A Navy Riverine Command Boat like the ones detained by Iran. Navy photo

The Navy on Thursday blamed “failed leadership” by a San Diego-based squadron for Iran’s capture of two riverine boats and detention of 10 crew members in January.

“This incident was the result of failed leadership at multiple levels from the tactical to the operational,” investigators wrote in the detailed report released at the Pentagon.

On Jan. 12, two boats from San Diego-based Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 left Kuwait for a 259-nautical-mile transit to Bahrain and immediately went off course. Then one boat suffered an engine failure. While the crews were troubleshooting the problem, the boats drifted toward Farsi Island and were intercepted by Iranian patrol craft.

“Unprepared and unaware, the boat crews were late in responding to approaching (Iranian) patrol craft, delaying action to establish a heightened security posture,” according to the report. “Their lack of adequate force protection left them with few realistic options to resist detention.”

The crew members were taken into Iranian custody, but released the following morning after diplomatic negotiations.

The Navy’s conclusions from the investigation centered on poor leadership and disregarded risk management and mission planning standards by those directly involved in planning the riverine boat missions.

Two officers involved have already been fired — Capt. Kyle S. Moses and Cmdr. Eric Rasch — and more crew members could be punished.

While the report focused on leadership issues, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson noted that “the investigation concluded that Iran violated international law by impeding the boats’ innocent passage transit and they violated our sovereign immunity by boarding, searching and seizing the boats and by photographing and video recording the crew”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.