MoD 'fixing weaknesses' after Navy hostage incident

Leading Seaman Faye Turney sold her story to the British newspapers
Leading Seaman Faye Turney sold her story to the British newspapers

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is taking steps to help prevent a recurrence of the capture of Royal Navy personnel in March, MPs say.

Eight Royal Navy marines and seven sailors were abducted from their patrol boat in the Shatt al-Arab waterway on March 23rd by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, prompting "national embarrassment" according to the Commons' defence select committee.

Its report on the navy hostage incident drew its findings from the secret report prepared for the government by Lieutenant General Sir Rob Fulton, which it was given confidential access to.

Although unable to reproduce the classified details, the committee's report quashes 'whitewash' rumours about the government's response and expresses satisfaction that the likelihood of a recurrence will be "significantly reduced" once the Fulton report's recommendations are implemented.

It says the incident has "provided the spur to remedy major weaknesses" in standard practices among armed forces procedures.

"While security constraints prevent us from making public the exact nature of the weaknesses identified, it is public knowledge that there were weaknesses in intelligence, in communications, in doctrine and in training," the report states.

"There was a lapse in operational focus in the front line, and a widespread failure of situational awareness.

"While the hostage-taking exposed worrying weaknesses, action has been taken to address them."

The hostages were not released until April 4th in what became a major diplomatic incident which damaged UK-Iran relations.

Following their return to Britain Leading Seaman Faye Turney, the only woman among those detained, and Able Seaman Arthur Batchelor sold their stories to the press in what became a heavily criticised move.

Today's report described the decision to allow such media coverage as a "serious mistake" which proved "deeply damaging to the reputation of the Royal Navy".

"The secretary of state for defence has accepted responsibility and apologised. This should not absolve others from blame," it adds.

A spokesperson said the Ministry of Defence would comment after the report's publication.


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