'Knowing the waters well and having been myself 'captured' by the IRG, something smells here. Cornwall had the eye in the sky (helicopter) watching overhead, the zodiac boats can do 30 knots and the interdict was approx 2 miles from Cornwall. How did they not see the Iranian fleet steam up and 'surround' the zodiacs? How do you surround a rubber dinghy capable of 30 knots. Or is this the issue the USA has been needing to justify an offensive move against Iran?' -- Phillip Carr, Sherborne
The above people made these comments in the BBC 'Have Your Say' section of the BBC News website. If you know anything about the military and how things are done, there is absolutely no way that these poor sailors and marines were accidently allowed to be captured - this was a carefully planned 'psych op' to escalate British and overseas public opinion into accepting military action against Iran.
Poor Faye Turney -- interviewed by the BBC just moments before she went out on this 'routine' search of a 'smuggling' ship. We all know from our research into 9/11 that you have to believe in huge coincidences if you are to believe the official story. Well how about this ... there are currently thousands of British servicemen and women operating in Iraq and the Gulf and, guess what, not only does the BBC embed itself with the actual ship that was going to be involved with this major news story (along with selected newspaper journalists), but they also just happen to interview the young woman a couple of hours before she goes out on patrol. The 'hidden hand' needs a human face to get the most from this sort of operation -- if it were just fifteen hunky males in trouble, we would be concerned but not that concerned ... but a young mother with a three-year-old waiting back home for Mummy to come back, now that's something to really get people animated about.
Now to the actual capture itself. The military always, when they put their people into harms way, ensure that close support is available in the form of immediate firepower and reinforcements. The only exception to this are Special Forces who are trained to operate independently of other friendly units and to be able to operate behind enemy lines without immediate backup. A boarding party from a Royal Navy ship are not Special Forces, even though half of them in this particular case were Royal Marine commandos. The normal procedure for a Royal Navy boarding party is for their ship to place itself in a position were it can give covering or warning fire from its most appropriate weaponry, which in this case would have been shipboard mounted GPMGs (General Purpose Machine Guns) and the ship's helicopter. In other words, the boarding party's ship would be no more than 1800 metres (effective range of a mounted GPMG) away from the designated ship to be searched. So what happened in this particular case -- how far away was HMS Cornwall from this freighter? If it was further than two kilometres then that boarding party was deliberately sent out to be captured ... and if Cornwall was within two kilometres then why no support given with warning shots?
HMS Cornwall is bristling with radar and high tech surveillance devices -- how come they did not pick up the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's patrol boats as they were approaching the RN boarding party? And what about the helicopter -- one report says it was sent away when it was seen that the boarding party had received a friendly welcome from the suspected freighter. If that's true, then this is a break with normal SOPs (standing operational procedures).
It is also reported that the Cornwall had communication problems with the boarding party -- now problems with radios do occur, but the ship should have been close enough for other forms of communications to be used (lights, rockets and signal flags) in order to alert the boarding party as to the Iranian patrol boats movements. We also learn from other sources that Commodore Nick Lambert, senior naval officer in the area, was desperately trying to sort out Rules of Engagement with the Ministry of Defence in London and that hesitation here prevented any action from being taken to save the boarding party from capture. Excuse me! Rules of Engagement are decided before deployment and are constantly reviewed, and at no time would you put your people into harms way without knowing your latest Rules of Engagement.
One final thing -- the Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) used by the boarding party are capable of over 30 knots and, as we have seen when Greenpeace use them effectively, are extremely manouvreable. I just find it very strange that skilful avoiding tactics using excellent boatmanship (which you would expect from the Royal Navy), but not firing any shots to exacerbate the situation, were not used by the boarding party to get back to the Cornwall -- assuming of course the Cornwall was at a distance offering 'close support'.
The Ministry of Defence should give us an accurate, minute by minute, account of what happened, but my belief is that we will never know the full truth. Let's hope that some of the Navy personnel involved will speak out.
VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE Friday 30 March 2007:
On Thursday 29th March, the Guardian newspaper reported the official British version of events as given by the Royal Navy and the Ministry of Defence ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2044448,00.html ). Their article reads:
Three minutes in which routine boarding turned into armed ambush
· Iranian craft swarmed around naval boats
· Personnel were put in an 'impossible position'
Thursday March 29, 2007
The Royal Navy for the first time yesterday gave a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the capture of 15 navy personnel by heavily armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
They described in graphic detail how what they called an "entirely routine" boarding of an Indian-flagged vessel took place 7.5 nautical miles south-east of the al-Faw peninsula, the southern tip of Iraq, on Friday morning last week.
A boarding party of eight sailors and seven marines left the frigate HMS Cornwall in fast rigid inflatable boats - Ribs, as the navy calls them. The vessel they raced towards had been spotted unloading cars into two barges secured alongside.
As the search took place, four naval personnel were left to look after their boats and monitor the data link which kept it in contact with the frigate.
The remaining 11 boarded the merchant vessel at 7.39 local time. They carried SA80 rifles or pistols, and the Cornwall's Lynx helicopter hovered overhead.
Vice Admiral Charles Style, deputy chief of the defence staff, described the operation as "entirely routine business", conducted in an area where four other boardings had recently been completed without fuss. The boarding party finished inspecting the vessel, which was cleared to carry on its business, at 9.10am.
The 11 sailors and marines were leaving the vessel when "very heavily armed Iranian vessels" arrived. Adm Style said the Iranian crew initially appeared friendly.
However, with their two boats equipped with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns a few feet away, the Iranians suddenly became aggressive. Four other Iranian craft quickly came on the scene. "They came out to swarm around our boats and shepherded them in," said a senior naval officer. He added: "The navy personnel were put in an almost impossible position."
The Iranian ambush, carried out with six boats capable of 40 knots, took place in three minutes. British military sources insisted yesterday that commanders engaged in patrolling the northern Gulf were "entirely satisfied" with their rules of engagement. "They had all the freedom they needed, all rights to engage in self-defence," said one senior military officer. The naval personnel had acted "in a professional way".
HMS Cornwall could not come to their aid since the boarding took place in very shallow water. The frigate was more than four miles away at the time of the ambush, according to naval sources.
Communications between the naval boarding party and the Cornwall were lost at 9.10. The Lynx helicopter, which had left the scene, returned to locate the boarding team. The helicopter crew reported that the boarding party and their boats were being "escorted by Iranian Islamic Republican Guard Navy vessels towards the Shatt al-Arab waterway and were now inside Iranian territorial waters."
The government's apparent confidence that its case was solid was reflected in Ministry of Defence briefings yesterday. Adm Style pointed out that the British boarding party's two boats were equipped with GPS (global positioning system) chart plotters. Satellite data on the boats and on the Cornwall's Lynx helicopter proved the 15 naval personnel and the merchant ship they boarded had been inside Iraqi waters, British military officers said. Adm Style gave the position of the merchant vessel, and hence the boarding party, as 29 degrees 50.36 minutes north 048 degrees 43.08 minutes east. He said: "This places her 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi territorial waters. This fact has been confirmed by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry."
He said the Iranian government had provided Britain with two different positions for the incident, the first on Saturday and the second on Monday. The first of these was within Iraqi territorial waters, he said, and that was pointed out to the Iranians on Sunday in diplomatic contacts. The Iranians then provided a second set of coordinates that placed the incident in Iranian waters more than two nautical miles from the position given by HMS Cornwall.
Adm Style added: "On Sunday morning, March 25, HMS Cornwall's Lynx conducted an overflight of the merchant vessel, which was still at anchor, and once agian confirmed her location on global positioning system equipment. Her master confirmed that his vessel had remained at anchor since Friday, and was in Iraqi territorial waters."
Without a shadow of doubt, it is this paragraph in the article that proves to me that this incident was entirely engineered by the 'hidden hand' to enrage and so prepare Britain for the imminent attack on Iran:
"HMS Cornwall could not come to their aid since the boarding took place in very shallow water. The frigate was more than four miles away at the time of the ambush, according to naval sources."
As I pointed out in my initial article, the ideal situation for searching suspicious ships and boats in a war zone would be to have the boarding party's ship take up a position where immediate fire support, using GPMGs, can be called upon to protect the boarding party and to ward off any further hostile action. The ideal distance would be around one kilometre, not over 6 kilometres.
Now let's look at the so-called 'shallow water' shall we. According to Navy News, the draught of HMS Cornwall is 6.3 metres ( http://www.navynews.co.uk/ships/cornwall.asp)
The Indian registered vessel being checked by the Cornwall's boarding party when their seizure occurred was anchored in the channel leading to the Shatt al Arab waterway which in turn leads to the Al Basrah Port. This port is able to take vessels whose tonnage is much bigger than the 4,850 tonnes of the Cornwall. Have a look at the official statistics given by the maritime industry for the port ( http://steelmillsoftheworld.com/ports/display.asp?id=48400). You will see clearly that the Channel Depth to the Al Basrah Port is between 7.9 and 9.1 metres and that the anchorage is between 9.4 and 10.7 metres.
So why did HMS Cornwall not steam to within one kilometre of the suspect vessel instead of anchoring over 6 kilometres away in a position where it could not offer close support as is normal practice in a war zone? The British Government and the Ministry of Defence must be challenged about this - many believe that a short but devastating attack by the United States on the regime in Iran is perhaps only days away: