Navigational error caused Navy boats to stray into Iranian waters

This picture released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detained American Navy sailors' boats in custody of the guards in the Persian Gulf Iran. Navy boats showed the sailors on their knees with their hands behind their head after the boats entered Iranian waters Tuesday.

Kerry learned of the incident around 12:30 p.m. EST as he and Defence Secretary Ash Carter were meeting their Filipino counterparts at the State Department, the official said. Credit: " After it became clear that the US combat vessels' illegal entry into the Islamic Republic of Iran's waters was the result of an unintentional action and a mistake and after they extended an apology, the decision was made to release them.

Along with the navigational error, one of the boats experienced engine trouble, preventing them from evading the Iranians once the crews realised they were inside Iran's territorial waters. The military had initially blamed mechanical problems.

The 10 sailors were taken prisoner by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on Tuesday evening after allegedly violating Iranian waters around Farsi Island in the middle of the Persian Gulf.

The sailor is not identified by name in the clip but the TV interviewer says he is the "commander" of the group seized by the Iranians.

Iran's armed forces chief, Maj-Gen Hassan Firouzabadi, said the incident should demonstrate Iranian strength to "troublemakers" in the US Congress, which has sought to put pressure on Iran after the nuclear deal.

Their quick release was hailed by the Obama administration as an unintended benefit of the new diplomatic relationship with Iran established by the nuclear accord negotiated between Tehran, Washington and five other nations in July.

The foreign ministers of both countries, John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif, had been in constant contact, speaking at least five calls during the course of the incident, a United States official said.

A USA military official said: "Clearly this staged video exhibits a sailor making an apology in an unknown context as an effort to defuse a tense situation and protect his crew". "They are all safe and we got our boats back, and I think that is the most important thing".

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