Two satellite phone SIM cards missing after Iran captured U.S. sailors

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Two SIM cards from satellite phones were missing from the boats of the 10 U.S. sailors who were detained by Iran.

In its first official account of the incident, the United States military on Jan. 18 released a timeline of the events of Jan. 12.

This frame grab from Tuesday, January 12, 2016 video by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency, shows detention of American Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran. The 10 U.S. Navy sailors detained by Iran after their two small boats allegedly drifted into Iranian territorial waters around one of Iran's Persian Gulf islands a day earlier have been freed, the United States and Iran said Wednesday. (IRIB News Agency via AP)
Frame grab shows the detention of U.S. sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf. /IRIB News Agency via AP

The sailors were headed from Kuwait to Bahrain, the location of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, when they “deviated” from their course into Iranian waters.

According to the timeline, the boats were scheduled to refuel with by linking up with a U.S. Coast Guard vessel in international waters. About 10 minutes after the scheduled refueling, Central Command’s naval headquarters at Bahrain received a report that the boats were being questioned by Iranians.

About 19 minutes later, the naval headquarters “was advised of degraded communications with” the two boats, the account added. After another 26 minutes, the naval headquarters was notified of a total loss of communications with the boats.

Iranian forces seized the U.S. boats and escorted the sailors at gunpoint to Farsi Island, which is in the middle of the Gulf and home to an Iranian military facility.

The military said the two SIM cards were the only items missing from the boats.

The sailors were released on Jan. 13. Iranian media reported that the U.S. agreed to Teheran’s demands and “apologized” for the incident. White House spokesman Josh Earnest later denied the reports, saying he was not aware of any discussions between Washington and Teheran about an American apology for the incident and noted one “certainly” was not given.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the sailors strayed from their course due to a “navigational error” but did not provide further details.