I rarely pull out my dusty Navy uniform, but having read the media reports about the incident in which U.S. sailors were taken into custody by Iran, I am compelled to respond.

I was an officer in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps in the 1980s.

I don’t believe the story we are being fed about this incident. Here’s a more believable scenario.

Before an open-water transit between nations, the CO of the Riverine Squadron plans the mission, paying specific attention given to staying clear of any hostile nation’s claimed territorial waters. In my day, the CO also sought advice from a nearby JAG on such matters before shoving off. Today, if there’s no readily available JAG in-theater, the CO consults his “JAG-in-a-bag,” a computer program that can provide him with real-time advice from JAGC headquarters.

The boats are checked over before departure and have sufficient fuel to accomplish their mission, plus extra. If for some unexplainable and rare circumstance one boat breaks down, the other tows it. That’s why two boats go on these missions, not one. It’s called “self-rescue” and it’s standard operating procedure.

The boats did not enter Iranian waters either intentionally or by equipment failure. They were overtaken in international waters by Iranian patrol boats so superior in both speed and firepower that it became a “Surrender, hands up or be blown out of the water!” situation, with automatic cannons in the 40mm to 76mm range aimed at them point-blank. I assume that the Iranians had an English speaker on a bullhorn to make the demand.


Just watch. The released sailors will be ordered not to say a word about the incident. The Iranians will have taken every GPS device and chart-plotter off the boats so that we won’t be able to prove where our boats were taken.

Robert G. Fuller, Jr.

Captain (Retired), Judge Advocate General’s Corps, USNR

Atlantic Beach, Florida

Seasonal resident of Winthrop

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