Ten American sailors detained by Iran just hours before President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address were released this morning after being accused of trespassing on Iranian waters.
American governmental officials said that one of the two boats that was being piloted by the sailors suffered mechanical problems en route to Bahrain from Kuwait when it was intercepted. An Iranian Navy chief confirmed that account, saying on state television Wednesday that the Americans had drifted into Iranian waters after experiencing “mechanical problems in their navigation system.”
Images released this morning show the moment at which the Americans were captured:
“Our technical investigations showed the two U.S. Navy boats entered Iranian territorial waters inadvertently,” the IRGC said in a statement carried by state television. “They were released in international waters after they apologized,” it added.
Per Reuters, the American sailors were released into the Persian Gulf on the patrol boats they were detained with. From there they were reportedly met by other Navy aircraft, which took them ashore while a new crew boarded the captured boats and continued onto Bahrain.
The sailors were not harmed while being held, though a Pentagon statement said “the Navy will investigate the circumstances that led to the sailors’ presence in Iran.”