May 13-15, 2016 -- U.S. Navy riverine craft captured by Iran were on spy mission

publication date: May 13, 2016
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May 13-15, 2016 -- U.S. Navy riverine craft captured by Iran were on spy mission

WMR has learned from knowledgeable sources that two U.S. Navy riverine patrol boats, captured near Iran's military-sensitive Farsi Island on January 12 of this year, were on a National Security Agency-linked electronic surveillance mission. The Iranians captured the two Riverine Command Boats (RCB 802 and 805), which were assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron 3, when they drifted into Iranian territorial waters while en route from Kuwait to Bahrain. The two boats were to be refueled by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy before they were taken into custody by members of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. The seizure of the boats and their total crew of ten came as the U.S., Iran, and other nations were hammering out the last details of the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran.

WMR has learned that Secretary of State John Kerry, a veteran of U.S. Navy riverine intelligence penetrations of neutral Cambodia during the Indochina War, reacted quickly to defuse the incident when he became aware of the botched U.S. Navy intelligence mission targeting Farsi Island. Kerry phoned his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif within five minutes of being informed about the seizure and demanded their "quick" release.

The two RCBs were built by SAFE Boats of Bremerton, Washington but were designed and licensed to the Bremerton builder by Dockstavarvet of Sweden. The Swedish design is intended to maximize the ability of the craft to quickly enter and retreat from hostile waters while covertly collecting electronic and photographic intelligence. The boats' weapon systems are controlled by a system manufactured by the Israeli defense company Rafael.

The Obama administration was criticized by Republicans because the Iranian captors of the American crewmen forced them to keep their hands behind their heads while being videotaped for later viewing by worldwide television audiences. The U.S. personnel were held for 16 hours and one of them apologized to Iran on videotape. WMR has learned that the reason the Iranians forced the Americans to keep their hands behind their heads was to prevent one or more of them from disposing of thumb drives overboard or pushing any data destruction buttons on the boats that were rife with surveillance gear.

Initially, the U.S. Navy claimed the boats suffered a "navigation error." However, there was nothing wrong with the Global Positioning Systems on board the vessels or on portable units in the possession of the crew.

, Task Group (CTG) 56.7's 7 Riverine Command Boats (RCB) 802 and 805 participate in a bi-lateral exercise with Kuwait naval forces in the Arabian Gulf.
RCBs 802 and 805 on maneuvers in Kuwait prior to their capture by Iran in sensitive waters off Iran's heavily-fortified Farsi Island.

The capture of the two RCBs by Iran resulted in one of the worst compromises of U.S. intelligence information since the April 1, 2001 forced landing of a U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries electronic intelligence aircraft on China's Hainan Island. The compromise of NSA and other intelligence by the capture of the RCBs has led the Navy, as a result of a formal review of the incident, to remove from his duties Commander Eric Rasch, the Executive Officer of Coastal Riverine Squadron 3. Rasch began his Navy career as an intelligence specialist. Rasch was removed from his duties for
failure to "provide effective leadership." The Commanding Officer of CRG 3, Commander Gregory Meyer, is presently on administrative hold with CRG-1, pending the completion of the formal investigation.

After Iran returned the boats to the U.S., an inventory accounted for all weapons, ammunition, and communications, except for two satellite phone SIM cards. The Navy made no mention of surveillance or navigation equipment. The Obama administration has resisted efforts by Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain to subpoena the ten sailors captured by Iran. WMR has been informed that some of them may actually be assigned to a U.S. intelligence agency and were on the boats under U.S. Navy official cover.

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