This is the type of boat we're talking about here. Note couple of items clearly visible in the image: antennae for navigation, radio and satnav, and lots of guns. Really do you think a half dozen fiberglass runabouts with a few guys with AK 47's are going to take one if they don't want to be taken. Add to that these guys were most likely in communication with the USS Harry Truman task group, loaded with big ships and airplanes.... The Pentagon released a statement to wit:
"During the voyage leadership on the RCBs made an unplanned course change during the transit in route to a refueling stop with with USCGC Monomoy (WPB-1326) at about the midway point of the trip.
The crews of the boats were determining their position and repairing a mechanical problem with one of the boats when forces from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) – the units responsible for costal defense in Iran – interdicted the U.S. RCBs and took both the boats and their crews to Farsi Island. Diplomatic efforts from the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prompted their release after 16 hours. [my hero, sigh]
"The general route, commonly used by the small riverine boats used by the Navy to patrol close to shore, comes only within a few miles of the 12 nautical mile territorial buffer around Farsi Island – located in middle of the narrow and heavily trafficked Persian Gulf, USNI News understands.
“The planned transit path for the mission was down the middle of the Gulf and not through the territorial waters of any country other than Kuwait and Bahrain,” according to a Jan. 18 timeline of events from U.S. 5th Fleet.
"U.S. Navy 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Kevin Stephens would not comment on the navigational error and told USNI News that the incident is currently under an administrative investigation by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command."
Of course. And they need to get the sailors back in CONUS so they can be "debriefed" and silenced.
Under the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention – of which Iran is a signatory – the IRGCN forces could challenge a ship in their territorial waters operating under the concept of innocent passage but went over the line in drawing weapons, detaining the crew and seizing the boats, James Kraska, professor in the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the Naval War College, said.
The lack of U.S. reaction internationally to the seizure – which occurred mere days before the implantation of the long negotiated nuclear treaty with Iran – creates a troubling precedent for U.S. operations in the future, he said. [italics are mine]
Kraska compared the severity of the Farsi Island incident to when in 1986 Libyan forces of under Muammar Gaddafi fired missiles at U.S. Navy fighters operating in the Gulf of Sidra across the so-called “line of death” 64 nautical miles off the Libyan coast and the 1988 Black Sea bumping incident in which a Soviet Navy surface ship rammed a U.S. warship conducting an innocent passage in Soviet territorial waters.
In both cases, the U.S. raised a hue and cry internationally complaining of the violations [which] Kraska said have not been echoed in the aftermath of the current incident. [surprise, surprise]
“Why wouldn’t there be any reaction to this incident [on the part of the U.S.]?” Kraska said.
“Other countries now understand there’s going to be no reaction to the similar incidents in the future.”
And that's not a good thing.
Until next time,