Iranian officials have released 10 U.S. crew members from “two small American naval vessels that strayed into Iranian waters,” leading to their detention by the country’s coastal forces, according to The Washington Post.
Reports The Post:
“Ten U.S. Navy Sailors safely returned to U.S. custody today, after departing Iran,” said a statement early Wednesday from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “There are no indications that the Sailors were harmed during their brief detention.”
According to the Navy’s statement, the sailors departed Farsi Island, where they were held, at 8:43 GMT (3:43 a.m. Eastern time). They were transferred ashore by U.S. Navy aircraft, while other sailors took charge of the vessels, called riverine command boats, and continued on the way to Bahrain, the boats’ original destination.
According to the statement, the Navy will investigate “the circumstances that led to” the sailors’ “presence in Iran.”
Their capture threatened to overshadow Barack Obama‘s final State of the Union address, but the president stuck to his script and lauded his nuclear deal with Iran. He was alerted about the problem just before his speech.
“We built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. And as we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war,” Obama said, in his only mention of Iran in his final State of the Union speech.
Republican lawmakers, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, once Obama’s GOP challenger for the presidency, blasted the president for failing to make a reference to the incident in the Persian Gulf, writes CNN:
“Ten American sailors have been taken into custody in Iran,” he said in a statement. “But President Obama completely omitted this latest example of Iran’s provocative behavior so as not to interfere with his delusional talking points about his dangerous nuclear deal with Iran.
Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN’s Dana Bash that he expected the sailors to be released “very soon,” but declined to be more specific.