Navy commander fired over Iran's detention of 10 sailors

Navy commander fired over Iran's detention of 10 sailors
© IRIB News

The Navy has fired the commander of the 10 American sailors who drifted into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf earlier this year and were detained by Iran for about 15 hours.

Navy Cmdr. Eric Rasch was relieved of his duties as commanding officer of Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 as of May 12, according to a Navy statement. 

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"Rasch was relieved due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command," the statement said.  

Rasch was executive officer of the squadron at the time of the incident, in which two riverine boats drifted off course into Iranian waters after facing electrical malfunctions. 

Iranian military boats surrounded the U.S. boats and made the 10 American sailors onboard kneel with their hands behind their heads. 

The incident angered U.S. lawmakers, especially after Iran released video of one the sailors apologizing and another one crying. 

Rasch was responsible for the training and readiness of the 400-plus sailors in the unit and had failed to provide effective leadership, leading to a lack of oversight, complacency and failure to maintain standards in the unit, a Navy official told The Associated Press.  

Rasch recently became the squadron's commanding officer. He has been temporarily reassigned to Coastal Riverine Group 1, the Navy said. 

Capt. Stanfield Chien, prospective deputy of CRG-1, will assume interim command of the squadron, the Navy said.

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins said other administration actions have been taken, but those will not be disclosed until the investigation of the incident is completed. Administration actions can range from verbal counseling to a letter of reprimand, he said.

"Our intent is to complete the investigation this month," Hawkins said.