US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter says the US sailors who trespassed into Iranian waters had made a “navigational error.”
"The information that they have given us, and through their commanders is that they did stray accidentally into Iranian waters due to a navigation error," the Pentagon chief said in an interview with Univision on Thursday. "So that seems to be the original cause of this, according to the interviews that we have done."
Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy, said Wednesday that 10 sailors aboard two CB-90 patrol boats, who were reportedly moving between Kuwait and Bahrain for a training mission, were taken into custody.
The Marines, comprised of nine men and one woman, had reached three miles into the waters surrounding the Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf, according to the senior IRGC commander.
The sailors were released on Wednesday. An unidentified US official confirmed to the CNN that the Marines boarded US missile cruiser USS Anzio.
US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement shortly after, thanking Iran for allowing the servicemen to return.
"I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter," Kerry said.
"That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong," he added.