US navy commander dismissed after entering Iranian waters

US navy commander dismissed after entering Iranian waters
The lead officer in a US navy group briefly held by Iranian authorities in January has been 'relieved of his duties', US officials said on Thursday.
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The commander was dismissed after Iranian authorities captured the US navy boat [File Photo: AFP]
The US officer in charge of a group sailor who were briefly captured by Iranian authorities in January has been dismissed, the US navy announced.

Commander Eric Rasch "was relieved due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command", a statement said.

Several US riverine patrol boats have deviated off course and entered into Iranian territorial waters, but this is the first time a US sailor has been publicly held to account.

Navy Spokesman Lieutenant Commander Tim Hawkins said other sailors have also been disciplined, but he would not say who they were as the incident remains under investigation.

"The commander of US Fifth Fleet took administrative action involving personnel assigned under his authority," Hawkins told AFP.

"Administrative action can range from verbal counselling to a formal letter of reprimand."

In January, a crew of two US Navy boats were held by Iran for encroaching on its territory. They were released after Washington issued an apology.

Iranian media broadcasted images of the American sailors during the detention, showing the servicemen kneeling on their boats at gunpoint with their hands on their heads.

The US which appeared to be trying to avoid escalations with Iran days ahead of the implementation of a nuclear deal - maintained the incident was caused by navigational and mechanical problems.