Commander Eric Rasch was removed from his position in the US Navy by Capt. Gary Leigh due to a “loss of confidence” regarding his performance as of late.
The incident occurred on January 12, in the vicinity of Farsi Island in the Arabian Gulf. Ten U.S. sailors mistakenly sailed into Iranian waters, which almost costs the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal that was set to take place on that same day.
The ten sailors were captured and their boats seized by Iranian military forces guarding the Persian Gulf. The detention lasted around 16 hours and at least one of the culprits was forced to apologize on videotape, a footage which was spread all over Iran through propaganda.
Although officials believe that the incident was a mistake from the sailors, some believe that the boats may have resorted to taking a shortcut to refuel their vessels with a nearby U.S. Coast Guard ship. Further investigations are to take place to verify this story.
None of the sailors were harmed in the incident, as it was assured by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens. He said that it was a great relief that the sailors were back home and that they are being taken care of. They are to undergo a “process of debriefing and making sure that their mental and physical and emotional needs are taken care of.”
Rasch, who joined the Navy back in 1989 after graduating from the University of San Diego was reassigned to another company. He has performed military service on the Arabic Peninsula mostly, as he took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which developed into the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
When the U.S. personnel sailed into the territorial sea a chase took place, but the sailors weren’t able to escape from the pursuing boats due to one of the river boats suffering from engine malfunction. After the detention, the boats were returned by Iranian forces with all of their communications and arms equipment intact.
U.S. Navy officials are currently debriefing sailors to correctly assess what really happened and what led the sailors to not follow an approved fuel rendezvous path.
The Iranian media was flooded with photos of the sailors kneeling with their hands on their heads and with the footage of the sailor apologizing to the Iranian officials.
“It was a mistake. That was our fault. We apologize for our mistake” he stated.
Source: Navy Times