Lt. David Nartker, 27, one of 10 U.S. sailors captured by Iran, is shown in a video apologizing to Iran after a U.S. Navy vessel drifted into Iranian waters. (Image: IRIB)
The skipper of the boats captured by Iran this year says he should be commended and not penalized for averting a potential firefight in the Persian Gulf.
The U.S. Navy has rebuked him and effectively ended his once-promising career in the military. But Lt. David Nartker makes no apologies for his actions when two boats under his command strayed into Iranian waters and ended up captured by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy, Nartker defended his role in the Jan. 12 incident in the Persian Gulf, arguing that he safeguarded the lives of his crew and averted a potential war with Iran over a navigational error.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the case, Nartker last week offered an alternative narrative to the one painted by the U.S. Navy, which has reprimanded him for “dereliction of duty.” He described a harrowing confrontation near Farsi Island as two Iranian vessels equipped with machine guns encircled his riverine boats. He said he had only seconds to decide whether to order his crew to open fire or to look for a way out of the showdown.
After his boats tried and failed to evade the two Iranian vessels closing in around them, Nartker considered the possibility of aiming his M4 assault rifle at a Iranian gunner only about 10 feet away.
“I know I could have hit that guy and killed him. There was eye contact,” Nartker said.
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WNU Editor: If he did not apologise to the Iranians .... just stuck to his name and serial number and a tone of defiance .... he would have probably been commended. But he apologised .... and someone had to take the fall for this fiasco. But his account on what happened is a fascinating read, and kudos to Foreign Policy for posting it.