Saturday, July 2, 2016

Surrender Was Unnecessary

ComNavOps has faulted the boat crews for surrendering without resistance.  Some readers have suggested that this was the only prudent thing to do and that the boat crews would have been killed to no purpose had they resisted.  Here is the proof that surrender was not necessary.

From the full Navy investigative report we learn the following.

  • Various crew First observed two small boats at 1-2 nm.
  • Observed weapons on the boats at 800-1000 yds.
  • Both boats manned their weapon stations as the Iranian boats approached.  Some guns were loaded, some were not.
  • As the boats approached to within 100-300 yds, several crew members observed that each Iranian boat had a single COVERED crew served weapon.
  • The Iranians uncovered their weapons at 100-300 yds.  In addition, each Iranian was seen to be armed with an AK-47.
  • One of the Iranian boats had two crew and the other boat had a single crew member.  Here are the relevant quotes from the full report.

IV.H.31. (U) According to most accounts, one of the boats had two Iranians on board, while the other boat had only one Iranian onboard.

IV.H.32. (U) Concerning the boat with one Iranian, crewmembers observed the Iranian ?frantically? shifting between driving the boat, manning a weapon, and talking on a radio.

So what was the situation when the US boats were initially approached?  A grand total of three Iranians, two on one boat and one on another, threatened two US boats armed with four 0.50 cal machine guns and 10 crewmen each of whom were also armed with personal weapons of various types.  One of the Iranian boats was, essentially a non-factor, being crewed by a single person and incapable of simultaneously maneuvering and fighting.

The engine was repaired and both boats began to accelerate away.  The Iranians were seen pointing their weapons at the 802 boat.  It was at this moment that the boat 802 coxswain refused to continue accelerating and stopped the boat.  At this point, the 802 Boat Captain initiated the surrender.

So, two fully functioning US boats armed with four 0.50 cal machine guns and 10 crew with personal arms surrendered to two Iranian boats with two crew-served machine guns and a total of three crew members without a shot being fired.  At the moment of surrender, the US boats had twice the firepower and more than three times the crew numbers and surrendered without a shot being fired.

It bears repeating.  At the moment of surrender, the US boats had twice the firepower and more than three times the crew numbers and surrendered without a shot being fired.

Shortly after this decision, a third Iranian vessel showed up followed, eventually, by a fourth.

According to the report, at the moment of mutiny and surrender, the two Iranian guns were pointed at the 802 boat.  Thus, the 805 boat had the opportunity to fire, unhindered and unopposed, on the Iranians which would have prevented the surrender and seizure of the boats but did not do so.

The more we dig into this incident, the worse it gets.

The surrender is an example of cowardice, a violation of the Code of Conduct, and mutiny.  There is no other way to view this incident.


Side Note:

Some readers will, undoubtedly, suggest that it was “right” for the US boats to surrender because they were in Iranian waters.  From a legal perspective, that’s totally false.  All countries have the right to conduct a procedure called Innocent Passage through another country’s territorial waters.  Setting that aside, however, at the moment of surrender the boat crews were totally lost and believed they were in international waters.  Thus, they believed they were being attacked and seized in international waters.  By definition, that’s an act of war and should have been resisted with force – see, again, the Code of Conduct.  All of the rationales for surrendering based on being in Iranian waters were promulgated after the fact when the crews eventually learned where they actually were.  The crews believed they were in international waters and, as such, were obligated to resist and defend their boats and themselves.


  1. More heads need to roll, this is a lot worse than what I thought, I was always under the impression the Iranians had numbers and more boats. These crews were not mentally prepared for combat, why bother having all that gear if you aren't going to use it?!?

    I hope this isn't symptomatic across the fleet....

    1. If you look at photos the Iranian boats are tiny, one quarter the size of our Riverines. Another key point is the Iranians would never open fire unless attacked. The Riverines had far more firepower and the Iranians knew that American aircraft would arrive within a hour and sink them all.

      In other news, Taiwan just did an impressive (albeit accidental) display of new anti-ship weaponry. Supersonic, radar homing, and managed to lock on a slice through a small 60 ton trawler after flying 45 miles.

      Can we buy some and put them on our LCS?

      Or we could buy two, remove the warheads, and fire both at a fully ready carrier group. Would our Navy dare try this? It's just two incoming missiles, not 40.

    2. Wait, Taiwan has already built a corvette to carry these missiles. Buy these and scrap our LCS jokes.

      For $72 million each, and a crew of just 41, we'd get:

      Type: Coastal Corvette
      Displacement: 567 tonnes full load [2][3]
      Length: 60.4 m (198 ft)(Length on cushion)
      Beam: 14 m (46 ft)
      Draught: 2.3 m (7.5 ft)
      Propulsion: 4 x MJP CSU 850 waterjet
      Speed: 43 knots (80 km/h) (fully armed)
      Complement: 41 (including officers)
      Sensors and
      processing systems:

      Navigational Radar
      CS/SPG-6N(S) Surface Search Radar
      CS/SPG-6N(T) Fire Control Radar
      Variable Depth Sonar

      Electronic warfare
      & decoys: 12 counter-IR/RF chaff dispensers (6 bow and stern)[4]

      8 × Hsiung Feng II
      8 × Hsiung Feng III
      1 × Otobreda 76 mm
      1 × Phalanx CIWS
      2 × 12.7mm Browning M2HB
      2 × Mark 32 triple torpedo launcher (one port and one starboard)[4]

      Aviation facilities: Flight deck,[4] primarily for VERTREP

    3. Sorry I'm posting off-topic, but I really want to note that ships superior design. Its missiles are snap-ins atop the ship.

      I suspect they can be loaded ten times faster than our tricky VLS method of refilling each cell in port, and it can be snapped in at sea. In addition, should a missile explode it doesn't rip the hull apart like our VLS.

  2. The report alos states that 2 additional Iranian boats arrived on the scene and that the patrol captain ordered his men to stand down from their weapons.

    1. I stated this in the post. Do you have a point to make?

    2. Sometimes my reading comprehension is not what it should be. That said, I reread the part where the crew were approached and captured by the Iranians.

      A clarification first. The report stated each RCB was armed with a .50 cal and an M240. But, before that, the report stated that neither boat was "not equipped with a functioning," but the rest was redacted. I have to wonder what that was and how it affected the response of the crew.

      Also, the coxswain of 802 stopped accelerating out of fear that a fellow crewmember would have been shot. Then again, the report stated the believed, contrary to their training, they could not engage in self-defense unless the Iranians fired first. That helps explain why we surrendered without a fight.

      I suspect if RCB 805 had engaged the Iranians, they might have escaped before the arrival of Iranian reinforcements.

      The report makes some good recommendations, including SERE training for RCB crews. But, I think the Navy needs to instill a higher level of aggressiveness among the RCB crews.

    3. These boats are fitted for 7 weapon stations, 3 on each side and 1 atop the cabin. The cabin mount is for a remote operated weapon with target locking capability. My guess is that it is this remote weapon station that the report is saying was not equipped as that would likely only be mounted if combat were anticipated. Just a guess on my part.

    4. Sounds plausible, which might mean they could have fought their way out without direct exposure to Iranian fire.

    5. Heres a good summary of the RCB boats themselves and a good closeup photo showing many weapon stations manned.

  3. Why are we in the Persian Gulf if this is the worthlessness we deploy? The best technology in the world is of no value if contemptible cowards man it.

    1. Setting aside the coward part, I agree wholeheartedly. We spend enormous sums of money to place equipment in regions around the world and then refuse to make use of it. It's pointless.

      To your feeling on cowardice. It's clear that the Navy has inculcated a state of appeasement and non-confrontation in its forces that is at odds with the military's Code of Conduct. This needs to be corrected and that can only come from leadership.

    2. Damn if you do, damn if you don't. The vague language about deescalation (pointed to in your article) dosen't foster a readiness to do harm attitude.

      You can compare the Danish and Norwegian ROE in Afghanistan. Norway had a neverending list of requirements to act, whereas the Danes were strictly instruction to follow the rules of war (Geneva convention) and work clossely with the Brits. There was therefor much simpler for the Danes to coop with stressfiled situations. There was no vaguness conserning when they were and weren't allowed to use leathal force.

    3. Given the crew didn't think they could fire on the Iranians first, the concept of inherit self-defense may not be as well understood as it should be.

    4. US forces have no vagueness either, at least in theory. All US forces have the inherent right to self-defense and it does not require that we wait until shot at before we can shoot.

      That said, I continually hear about Rules of Engagement that prohibit shooting but I believe those are not "legal" and do not supersede the inherent right. However, I am not a military lawyer so I may not understand the issue correctly. I've looking into it.

  4. There are a few aspects at play here (when aren't there?)

    What may go down as legal and defensible, may not be conducive to staying on the path of promotion. USN, from my understanding, you're either on the way up or on the way out.
    With that kind of regiment, sticking your head out, on the proverbial chopping block (in that part of the world, not always proverbial) isn't conducive to long term employment.
    Efficiencies vs good soldiering.
    They're always at odds, or nearly always.

    1. Quite true and that's why we think so highly of real heroes. They stand when all others cower. They risk all for what they believe in.

      Your comment reminds us why we value heroism and seek to emulate those few who demonstrate the quality.

  5. Send to me that everyone forgot the video

    They had little to no ammunition!!!!

  6. Man, people need to go to jail from this! General Patton would have called them yellow bellows and physically beat them!


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