Debriefing Process Begins for US Sailors Involved in Iran Boat Seizure

  • This picture released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detained American Navy sailors in an undisclosed location in Iran. Sepahnews via AP
    This picture released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detained American Navy sailors in an undisclosed location in Iran. Sepahnews via AP
  • This picture released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detained American Navy sailors in an undisclosed location in Iran. Sepahnews via AP
    This picture released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detained American Navy sailors in an undisclosed location in Iran. Sepahnews via AP
  • This picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detention of American Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran. (Sepahnews via AP)
    This picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detention of American Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran. (Sepahnews via AP)

The ten U.S. sailors who were returned to U.S. protection after briefly being taken into custody in Iran are no longer in Bahrain and are in the process of being repatriated, a senior Navy official told Military.com Thursday.

The official, who spoke under condition of anonymity to discuss the matter, said the sailors -- nine men and one woman -- began the first day of their debrief today, a process that is expected to take days or a week.

The sailors are also in the midst of a "reintegration process" to assess their states of physical and mental health, the official said. That reintegration is conditions-based and will be tailored to the needs of the individuals involved.

The Navy does plan to release more details about the incident after it completes the debrief, but the official said the service has no plans to publicly identify the sailors who were taken hostage ahead of that process.

"We find it is not very helpful to sailors and their families" to do so, the official said.

The specifics of how the sailors and their two riverine command boats ended up in Iranian waters are still scarce. A defense official confirmed that the boats had drifted, but said they did not run out of fuel. The official said at least one of the boats had engine trouble.

The U.S. has recovered the boats and the radio equipment on board, the official said.

Still unclear is whether the drifting of the boats was a mechanical or user error. Questions also linger about videos and images that have surfaced showing one of the sailors apologizing to an unseen Iranian interrogator and calling the intrusion into Iranian waters a mistake. Those images were circulated by Iranian media ahead of the sailors' release on Wednesday.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@monster.com.

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