Navy fires commander of squadron captured in Iranian waters

by WorldTribune Staff, June 14, 2016

The commander of the 10 U.S. sailors who were captured and held by Iran in January has been relieved of his command by the U.S. Navy.

The Navy said in a statement on June 9 that it had lost confidence in Cmdr. Eric Rasch, who was the executive officer of the squadron that included the 10 sailors at the time of the January incident. He was responsible for the training and readiness of the more than 400 sailors in the unit.

US sailors being apprehended by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. /AFP
US sailors being apprehended by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. /AFP

A Navy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Rasch “failed to provide effective leadership, leading to a lack of oversight, complacency and failure to maintain standards in the unit.”

Rasch was promoted to commander of the unit in April — after the Iran incident occurred, but before the preliminary investigation was done. Rasch has been relieved of his command duties and reassigned, the Navy said.

Several other sailors involved in the incident received administrative reprimands and others are likely to be disciplined, the Navy said.

The sailors, nine men and one woman, were detained after their vessel drifted into Iranian waters off Farsi Island, an outpost in the middle of the Persian Gulf that has been used as a base for Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) speedboats since the 1980s.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the sailors made a navigational error and went off course.