Detained American sailors return safely to San Diego

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – 1/27/2016 – The 10 San Diego-based Navy sailors briefly detained by Iran earlier this month have been reunited with their families, military officials said Wednesday.

The sailors of Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 were detained by the Iranian government Jan. 12 after their boats strayed into territorial waters around one of Iran’s islands in the Persian Gulf. They were released the following day and returned to Naval Station North Island on Friday.

"The sailors are in good health and we have determined they can return to duty,” Rear Adm. Frank Morneau, commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. The briefly detained sailors began a reintegration program immediately after they were released Jan. 13, according to the Navy.

The process involved ensuring their immediate health and safety and that they received structured briefings while underway. Once back in San Diego, the sailors reunited with their families and were receiving ongoing medical care and support.

Morneau said they would also "participate in the ongoing investigation and normal post-deployment duties as assigned.”

1/25/2016 – The 10 sailors briefly detained by Iran earlier this month are back in San Diego. The sailors of Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 returned to Naval Air Station North Island late Friday. Naval officials say all are in good health.

The Iranian government detained the sailors on January 12th after their boats strayed into Iranian territorial waters around one of Iran’s islands in the Persian Gulf. They were released the following day.

(CNN) – Wednesday 7:23 a.m. – The 10 American sailors captured by Iran have been freed, U.S. and Iranian officials said. A Navy statement said the detained sailor have been transferred to shore and are no longer on USS Anzio, the ship on which they departed from Iran.

The sailors were captured Tuesday after their two naval boats entered Iranian waters near Farsi Island, in the Persian Gulf.

The wait for the sailors’ release Wednesday morning dragged on for hours, with Iranian officials interrogating the sailors about their motives and demanding a U.S. apology.

But an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps spokesman told state-run media the boats strayed into Iranian waters by accident. "The evidence suggests that they unintentionally entered the Iranian waters because of the failure of their navigational system," IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the sailors traveled on their two boats to a rendezvous point in the Persian Gulf, a U.S. official said. They were escorted by Iranian boats, which turned back when they reached the rendezvous point in international waters. The sailors then boarded the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio, where they underwent medical checks Wednesday.

"There are no indications that the Sailors were harmed during their brief detention," the U.S. Navy said in a statement. The Navy said it would investigate how the sailors ended up in Iranian territory. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed "gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation ‎in swiftly resolving this matter," in a statement Wednesday.

"As a former Sailor myself, I know the importance of naval presence around the world and the critical work being done by our Navy in the Gulf region," he said, adding later, "That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong."

Tuesday 7:00 p.m. – According to the Associated Press, the 10 sailors being held in Iran were part of Riverine Squadron 1 based in San Diego and were deployed to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

Tuesday 3:00 p.m. – Ten Americans sailors are in Iranian custody after two U.S. naval crafts briefly entered Iranian territorial waters.

According to CNN, a U.S. senior defense official said he expects the situation to resolve itself quickly, without incident.

A senior administration official said there has been no hostility from Iran towards the sailors or the United States and the White House has received assurances the sailors will be released shortly.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told CNN’s Jake Tapper that President Barack Obama will be in touch with members of Congress about the incident.

"Certainly, everybody should be aware of the fact we have been in touch with the Iranians and they have assured us that our sailors are safe and that they’ll be allowed to continue their journey promptly," Earnest said.

According to CNN, the sailors will likely spend the night in Iran and will be released at first light Wednesday.

The incident happened after U.S. lost contact with the two crafts while they were en route from Kuwait to Bahrain.

It is unclear if the ships entered Iranian territory intentionally, but no distress call was made during the incident.

The official added that it is possible that one of the boats lost propulsion and drifted into Iranian waters.

"We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel," the senior administration official told CNN. "We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey."

The Fars News agency reported the detained sailors were nine men and one woman.

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