Seven of the 15 British Royal Navy personnel held captive by Iran are back in the Persian Gulf searching for smugglers, Britain’s military said Tuesday. The seven returned to duty on the frigate HMS Cornwall, the Defense Ministry said. Another seven of the Royal Marines have returned to duty at a naval base in Scotland. No decision has been made on whether to send those marines back to the Persian Gulf, the Defense Ministry said, AP reported.
The seven sailors back in the Gulf include the group’s only woman, Leading Seaman Faye Turney. They are again working in small boats boarding ships in Iraqi waters to check for contraband goods, the ministry said. London alleges that it had been during such an operation that the sailors and marines entered Iran’s territorial waters and were subsequently captured by naval forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on March 23.
Iran charged them with being in its territorial waters, and televised apologies by some of the captured crew embarrassed the British government. Iran eventually freed the team without an apology from Britain, but London guaranteed that such aggressions would never be repeated by its troops.
The only sailor still at home is Operator Mechanic Arthur Batchelor, who lost his passport and is waiting for a new one to be issued. British military personnel are required to carry passports overseas in case they need to use civilian airports.
Batchelor’s failure to return to Iraq with his crewmates is his latest embarrassment.
British media ridiculed him for an interview in which he complained his captors took his MP3 player, flicked his neck and called him names. Media later ran pictures appearing to show him at a nightclub joking about his captivity by wearing a blindfold and pretending to hold a gun to his head.