US Officer Whose Crew Iran Held Hostage Allowed To Stay In Navy


By Saagar Enjeti

The U.S. officer in charge of the crew that Iranian forces temporarily detained in January 2016 will be allowed to stay in the Navy, Foreign Policy reports.

Lt. David Nartker was previously recommended to be “separated” from the Navy because of his role in the international incident. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps navy personnel detained Nartker and nine other sailors for nearly 24 hours after their riverine boats drifted into Iranian waters.

“His peers have looked at this, and they have decided that this doesn’t warrant separation, they want to keep him as a colleague,” Nartker’s lawyer told Foreign Policy.

A Navy report found that the crew was not fully prepared for the mission, did not understand the rules of engagement, and that by the time they saw Iranian boats approaching, they had “few realistic options to resist detention.”

The report also faulted the Navy chain of command saying it did not inculcate a “can do/will do” leadership environment which in turn “frequently compromised appropriate risk management and procedural compliance.”

Nartker along with seven other Naval officers were disciplined after the report was released. Nartker appeared on Iranian television to apologize for the incident, which violated naval standards of contact. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told reporters after the report that “those sailors know that clearly those actions on that day in January and this incident did not live up to our expectations of our Navy.”

Nartker, however, contended in 2016 that he helped stop an international incident.

“I was not going to ignite a conflict over this,” he said to Foreign Policy. “I embarrassed the Navy, and therefore they punished me.” He claimed he deserved more credit for preventing a worse international incident.

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