Iran Captured U.S. Sailors at Gunpoint, Defense Department Finds

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg News/TNS) -

Ten U.S. sailors detained by Iran last week were taken at gunpoint after straying into Iranian waters, the Defense Department said in the first formal account of the confrontation in the Persian Gulf.

“Armed Iranian military personnel” boarded the U.S. boats while others “conducted armed over-watch of the boats with mounted machine guns,” U.S. Central Command said in the preliminary report issued Monday.

It describes an incident on Jan. 12 that began as a tense confrontation but ended quietly, with no indications the sailors were physically harmed.

Sailors on two Riverine Command Boats traveling from Kuwait to Bahrain “deviated from their planned course” down the middle of the Persian Gulf, according to the report, which said the reason remains under investigation.

Videos released by Iran showed the sailors forced to get on their knees with their hands behind their heads when they were captured and one of the Americans apologizing for the incident. Later in the video, the Americans are shown eating an Iranian meal.