US soldiers in Iranian waters
US sailors on their knees after Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps captured two boats that strayed into Iranian waters in the Persian GulfICRG

The Navy commander of a group of US sailors captured off the coast of Iran has been fired from his position following an investigation into the incident. The group of 10 sailors – nine men and one woman – was detained when their vessels got lost in the Persian Gulf on 12 January 2016, less than a week before the completion of the Iran nuclear deal, which was jeopardised by the episode.

Commander Eric Rasch was in charge of the Costal Riverine Squadron 3 when the detention occurred, with images of the sailors raising their arms at gunpoint shared across the world.

The crew, detained by the Islamic Republic for around 16 hours, were released with their boats. The US administration were criticised by Republicans over its 'soft' response to the situation. Rasch has been removed from his position, the Navy Times has reported, after it was found there had been a "loss of confidence" in him.

According to the BBC, Rasch has been demoted and reassigned, although the US Navy did not comment on which department or role he would take up.

At the time, the US had claimed the sailors' boat had experienced a navigational error, and the ongoing investigation – which is expected to bring further disciplinary action against others involved in the incident – is to look into what factors caused the boats to enter the area.