U.S. Central Command has just released a preliminary timeline of events surrounding the mysterious detention of 10 American sailors by Iran in the Persian Gulf last week.
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It reveals new details about how the Iranians held U.S. sailors at gunpoint after the Americans unwittingly strayed into Iranian waters.
The sailors were on a short mission to bring two Riverine Command Boats (RCB) from Kuwait to Bahrain when they were approached by the Iranians, according to the three-page report.
The Navy said the boats never showed up for a refueling mission midway through the trip.
Instead, the boats were tending to a “mechanical issue” with one of their diesel engines, and it turns out they were in Iranian waters at the time. The report says it’s “not clear the crew was aware of their exact location.”
By that point, the U.S. Navy had lost communication with the two boats and was beginning to send out a search party by air and sea. The report describes how the boats were approached by four armed Iranians vessels.
“Initial operational reports indicate there was a verbal exchange between the Sailors and the Iranians but no exchange of gun fire,” the reports said. “Armed Iranian military personnel then boarded the RCBs, while other Iranian personnel aboard the Iranian vessels conducted armed over-watch of the boats with mounted machine guns. At gunpoint, the RCBs were escorted to a small port facility on Farsi Island where the U.S. Sailors disembarked and were detained for approximately 15 hours.”
The report also says that upon their release, the Iranians returned all U.S. equipment minus the SIM cards from two handheld satellite phones.
While investigations are still underway, there are no indications at this point that the 10 sailors were physically harmed during their detainment, but officials still stress that the details surrounding their detainment remain unclear.