WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Two SIM cards were removed from handheld satellite phones on the U.S. Navy boats picked up by Iranian forces on January 12 after sailors accidentally entered the country's territorial waters, according to the U.S. Central Command.
Central Command released a preliminary timeline of events from January 12 and 13 when 10 members of the U.S. Navy were held by Iran after they stopped in Iranian waters while attempting to fix an engine issue, the report states.
Military officials said in a press release they were unsure whether the missing SIM cards contained classified information, although an inventory of the two boats found all weapons, ammunition, and communication gear to be accounted for.
According to the timeline, two riverine command boats, or RCBs, were traveling through the gulf, from Kuwait to Bahrain, with plans to refuel alongside the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy. About half an hour after they were scheduled to meet to refuel, the Navy lost communication with the boats and launched a search, which included the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman and U.S. Air Force, which were operating in the area.
Iranian military units notified the Navy they had picked up the boats and U.S. sailors near Farsi Island, and that the American personnel were "safe and healthy." There was a verbal exchange when the Iranian military pickup up the Americans but no gunfire. The Americans were held for 15 hours and released.
"The Navy command investigation will focus on the Sailors' treatment while in Iranian custody, including any interrogation by Iranian personnel," officials said in the report. "All indications are that the RCB crews were detained by Iranian military personnel operating from Farsi Island."
Although investigators are aware of a mechanical issue in a diesel engine in one of the boats, they are unsure why the crew "deviated from their planned course on their way to the refueling. The command investigation will determine what caused the change in course and why the RCBs entered into Iranian territorial waters in the vicinity of Farsi Island."