HMS Cornwall

  egapup 09:09 31 Mar 2007

Just wondering why a Royal Naval frigate , full of the lastest technology, bristling with arnament, just sat there and let the Iranians waltz off with 15 of our young people. I worked on her once...nice ship.

  Al94 09:32 31 Mar 2007

Explanation according to today's Times

The British sailors and marines being held by Iran were ambushed at their most vulnerable moment, while climbing down the ladder of a merchant ship and trying to get into their bobbing inflatables.

Out of sight of their warship and without any helicopter cover, their only link to their commanders was a communications device beaming their position by satellite.

That went dead as they were captured. One theory is that it was thrown overboard to prevent the Iranians getting hold of the equipment and the information it contained.

  MichelleC 09:33 31 Mar 2007

What would you have done, egapup, if you were in command of the ship?

  wee eddie 10:43 31 Mar 2007

That Cornwall had accessed the risk as the point of embarkation was out of sight. Court Marshal material there then.

Had they failed warn it's team of the potential danger or to steam between the Iranians and boarded Dhow. Which they could have done if it was in Iraqi waters.

The Iranian craft must have been visible to the from the Bridge for at least 1/2 an hour, assuming that they were power boats travelling at about 15-20 knots, before they got within firing range of the Naval Personnel.

An almighty cock-up

  anchor 11:33 31 Mar 2007

wee eddie: I know nothing about nautical radar, but assume the approach of the Iranian boats would have been spotted long before that.

  medicine hat 12:07 31 Mar 2007

A shot across the bows tends to dissuade

  wee eddie 12:21 31 Mar 2007

The waterway is not that wide at that point, I don't know how wide but definitely not "Open Sea", and anyway line of sight would be needed to identify the craft and their occupants.

  Forum Editor 13:15 31 Mar 2007

but here goes.

The Cornwall is commanded by an extremely experienced officer, who has completed three previous tours of duty in the Gulf. He knew exactly what he was doing, and because of his previous experience he would know that encounters with Iranian naval patrols are a commonplace occurrence in the waterway - there would have been no warning that this was to be any different to a hundred other encounters.

As for "a shot across the bows tends to dissuade". Yes, it does, but you don't start firing into a group of boats in someone else's territorial waters - especially when one of them contains crew members from your own ship. To do so would be foolishness of the first order.

  medicine hat 14:17 31 Mar 2007

Surely the Iranian gunboats entering Iraqi territorial waters is an agressive act. If the Cornwall had THEN put a shot across their bows the later kidnapping would (probably) not have occured.

Your comments seem to infer that all the action took place in Iranian waters. As for "he knew what he was doing", well, look where it has got 15 of his crew, the reputation of our military and an increasing percentage of the population wondering when the SAS/SBS will be sent in. Not exactly the result of a "commonplace" encounter in the Gulf is it?

  wee eddie 14:28 31 Mar 2007

If the Dhow was so close to Iranian water that the Cornwall was not able to "Heave to" between the it and the Iranian Boats, then the whole episode was extremely ill judged.

To allow a lightly armed force to board a vessel, of whose credentials one is unsure, particularly when there are unidentified warships in the area, out of your line of sight, strikes me as a delectation of duty to his crew.

The Commander the Cornwall may be highly experienced, but then so was the Master of the Titanic who acted, as he did, at the behest of his Shareholders.

  wee eddie 14:35 31 Mar 2007

I would never suggest firing on the Iranian boats as that would have been tantamount to a declaration of war, unless they were indisputably within Iraqi waters.

It has struck me that the Cornwall was, as it were, sailing fairly close to the wind. The area in question appears to be in disputed territory and those that issued the orders to Board the Dhow must have been aware of this, which is why I was querying the Back-up procedures in my previous postings.

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