Saturday, March 31, 2007

The HMS Cornwall never contested the capturing of the 15 sailors

My previous D-KOS diary was based on the idea that we have not been told the whole story about how Iran captured 15 sailors from the the HMS Cornwall. This diary deals with the real reason why 6 Iranian gunboats got the drop on the British sailors. 6 Iranian gunboats/speedboats armed with machine guns and rocket launchers surrounded the Rubber Inflatable Boats, or RIBs, uncontested because the HMS Cornwall was nowhere near the area.

HMS Cornwall- Rubber Inflatable Boats, RIBs-Lynx mk8 w/missiles

If I was the CO of the Cornwall I would have been sitting an 1/8 mile off the merchant vessel with my 4.5 inch main gun pointed right at him.

And when I saw the Iranian gunboats coming up, I would've manuevered to put the Cornwall between the gunboats and my people in the Zodiacs. I would have gone to battle stations, just so folks could hear the claxons blaring. Both my Lynx mk 8 gunship helo's would have been air borne. I would have told Lt. Chekov to ready photon torpedoes.

I would have swiveled my both Quad Harpoon missile launchers, my 4.5 inch main gun just to make sure the Iranians noticed them, which delivers a message, "My boys got their finger on the trigger pal, you better watch it".

Just to be clear, I have never served. Those who have, might agree with my sense of what the protocals in that environment would be. I'm guessing I got it more right than wrong, in fact more right than the CO of the HMS Cornwall did. I think it goes without saying that if the Cornwall was there, Iran would not have 15 sailors at this juncture.

Why I know the Cornwall was nowhere to be found on that fateful day.

1) Tony Blair said so:

Text of Blair’s remarks on capture of British sailors by Iran:

"...another additional fact: by the time HMS Cornwall knew that our forces had been detained unlawfully by the Iranians, they were in Iranian waters,"

Ah, thats how they got the drop on them, those pesky Klingons had a cloaking device......

Canterbury and Whitstable MP Julian Brazier had a problem:

“If the rules of engagement allow a hostile power to sail into allied waters and kidnap British servicemen and women without a shot being fired, something is going badly wrong."

MP Julian Brazier, the reason the Iranians got off with your people without a shot being fired, is that the HMS Cornwall was not there. The area on the map outlines Iraqi Territorial waters. After the intial news reports, I guessed that the incident took place in the area marked with a solid red line. This area is roughly framed by 2 major outflows of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers enter into the Persian Gulf. Time to take a jaunt over to the Royal Naval briefing on the incident, where the Royal Navy adamantly proclaims the HMS Cornwall was within Iraqi waters.

2) The Royal Navy said so:

MOD briefing shows Royal Navy personnel were in Iraqi waters

"The briefing, at defence headquarters in London, was given by Vice Admiral Charles Style, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff.....who is responsible for providing strategic advice to operational commanders, explained in detail where the Royal Navy personnel were located when they were seized. "On 23 March a boarding team consisting of seven Royal Marines and eight sailors - who were embarked in two of HMS Cornwall's boats - conducted a routine boarding of an Indian flagged Merchant Vessel which was cooperative throughout.

They investigated this vessel after witnessing her unloading cars into two barges secured alongside. Since early March the force has conducted 66 routine boardings. So the one that I'm talking about was entirely routine business, and conducted in a particular area where four other boardings have been completed recently".

"As shown on the chart, the merchant vessel was 7.5 nautical miles south east of the Al Faw Peninsula and clearly in Iraqi territorial waters".

To be truthful, thats not the MOD chart, which is at the Royal Navy link above. I incorporated the nautical mile scale next to the ships location, becuase I didn't believe what the chart was telling me.

The HMS Cornwall was 10 nautical miles from its RIBs,

and in no position to support its 15 sailors.

To us landlubbers, thats nearly 12 miles. The Cornwall did not even have a visual on its sailors. At 32 knots the Cornwall was a good 20 to 25 minutes away, forget about blasting the Iranians to bits, the Cornwall wasn't even in the position to use her hull as a screen, between the Iranian gunboats and the RIBs.

I have been mulling this over in my head for nearly 48 hours. Maybe the rountine of 65 prior boardings lead to sloppy habits. The Cornwall's crew & her CO had gotten lax. Or maybe a Mossad commander (some guy with an eye patch, right?) was on board directing the operation to be sure the sailors were left behind, as bait. All right, joking... But somebody screwed up, Do you think the Captain of the Cornwall will ever make Admiral....

If Iran executes one sailor, I can think of one Royal Navy Captain whose career is toast.


ReasonableDoubt said...

Excellent observations. You might also want to note that, in spite if maps provided by the British and US military, there is currently no maritime boundary between the two countries, so it's all just he-said-she-said sort of arguing.

From the CIA Factbook (15 March 2007)

Transnational Issues Iraq
Disputes - international:

Coalition forces assist Iraqis in monitoring internal and cross-border security; approximately two million Iraqis have fled the conflict in Iraq, with the majority taking refuge in Syria and Jordan, and lesser numbers to Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, and Turkey; Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Turkey has expressed concern over the autonomous status of Kurds in Iraq.

X. Dell said...

Like everyone else, I'm learning about this as it unfolds. But I'm wondering if there isn't a very sophisticated version of the Tonkien Gulf gambit. The administration's wet dreams of war in Iran can only be bolstered by fifteen hostages. And, as you point out here, the Cornwall was approximately ten miles away.

If this is a gambit, though, I'll be interested to find out why Iran captured the offered pawn. In other words, they know that there's little strategic or political advantages in only having the fifteen sailors. I would guess they have something up their sleeve.

Roger said...


Yes I understand about the lack of a internationally recognized line in the ocean. Though in this diary I wanted to work the theme, as comments:
"I'll be interested to find out why Iran captured the offered pawn".

In the grand chessboard of things it maybe that the UK did offer a pawn. And it may be important that Iran took it.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. We need more of this. The WH spin operation and the bLIAR fabrications are totally unacceptable. Let's see how it spins out. I saw Larry Johnson, ex CIA honcho and patriot, gave this thread a plug. That's a high recommendation.

Great stuff.

Now here's another item for you to consider. Turkey was considering an "incursion" into Kurdistan because they don't take any crap from anybody (although there is equality of opportunity for Kurds in the Turkish political system). I'm wondering if their incursion was near those mega oil fields. What a bold move on their part. Will Prince Sobieski show up just in time to save us?

Anonymous said...


You're absolutely correct with your points regarding the lack of force protection during the vessel boarding operation. The HMS Cornwall should have had reasonable force protection with either air cover from the Cornwall's Lynx helicopter or with direct cover from HMS Corwall weapon systems.

The commanding officer in the Royal Navy who ultimately approved of that type of policy and procedure for force protection during boarding ops should have been court-martialed.