American sailors who were detained by Iran in January gave away too much information to their captors, the US Navy said in a report on Thursday (June 30).
The report said some of the 10 crew members, detained at gunpoint Jan. 12 by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), had revealed sensitive information, such as phone and laptop passwords, to the Iranians.
The U.S. Navy report blamed the incident on poor planning, leaders who did not properly consider risks, and complacency amid a lack of oversight and low morale.
Navy officials sought to emphasize the corrective actions taken since the seizure at a news conference Thursday, and acknowledged that the crew and commanders had made serious mistakes.
““Our actions on that day in January and this incident did not live up to our expectations of our Navy,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said.“
“Big incidents like this are always the result of the accumulation of a number of small problems.”
The report cited the instance of one crew member revealing details to the Iranian interrogators such as the top speed of his vessel and that it conducted “presence” missions.
“It is clear that some, if not all, crew members provided at least some information to interrogators beyond name, rank, service number and date of birth,” the report said.
Indeed, some sailors revealed the passwords to their personal phones and laptops to the Iranians, as well as details on the capabilities of their vessels, the report said.
US Navy last week identified the commander of the boats’ task force as Captain Kyle Moses and said he had been relieved of his command.
The boats’ captains and crew did not review or stick to their planned course from the moment they left port, the report said, and inadvertently went through Saudi Arabian territorial waters before entering Iranian waters off the coast of Iran’s Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf.
At one point, the crew members did not realize they were near Farsi Island because they did not zoom into their navigation system’s map, the report said.
Near the island, one of the boats suffered a faulty engine, and the two crafts were approached by two IRGC boats, which pointed their weapons. They were soon after joined by two other IRGC boats. The boat captains did not direct their gunners to put on protective gear or to man the weapons on the boat.
Under the standard rules of engagement, U.S. military personnel are obligated to defend their units.However, in the hopes of de-escalating the situation, the captains directed their gunners to step away from their weapons.
“I didn’t want to start a war with Iran,” one of the boat captains told investigators. “My thought at the end of the day was that no one had to die for a misunderstanding.”
The Iranians forced the sailors to remove their body armor, kneel, and place their hands behind their heads, and took video and pictures of the crew doing so.
At Farsi Island, they interrogated and detained the sailors overnight before releasing them the next day.
In addition to Moses, in May, the U.S. Navy fired Eric Rasch, commander of the squadron that included the sailors. The report said administrative action had been taken with regard to two personnel, and recommended action be taken regarding six others.