Friday, January 15

The Farsi Island Incident: Death to America. Have more naan.

There is a story that Iranian TV showed the American crew being served a nice Persian meal on one side of the screen and on the other a shot of Abu Ghraib. If the story's true I can see how the Iranian government couldn't resist. 

But the commander of the crew, a young, friendly-looking lieutenant with a winsome smile, would've made a good impression in his television debut in Iran. What the audience will remember more than the brief apology was his sincere praise for the treatment the crew received from the Iranians -- and this would have been especially important to the audience -- their hospitality. 

The Farsi Island Incident that put the crew in Iranian hands was by all accounts a navigational error. Col. Pat Lang commented at Sic Semper Tyrannis: 
I am told that the lieutenant in charge of the two boats decided to re-set his navigational electronics to make a plotted course more of a straight line. That is what brought the boats into Iranian territorial waters.
Then the committee of correspondence at SST settled down to regaling each other with navigational bloopers they remembered from their service, although some are incomprehensible to civvies:
"What's the North star doing over there?" (Once heard on the conning tower of the big black fast attack.) Hmm, thought I (who had wandered up from the engine room) somebody should have listened to the QM1(SS).
But this one even I could follow:
Stuff sometimes happens. I remember being part of an Alpha Strike over North Vietnam. The briefed lead went down on deck so the secondary lead took charge. We all rendezvoused overhead the aircraft carrier and set off toward what we thought was North Vietnam. We could see it on the horizon. In actuality It was China's Hainan Island that we saw and we were heading directly to China with 30 or 40 armed aircraft!
Finally and thankfully someone - either on the ship or in the formation - said, "check your heading." Apparently while circling overhead the ship, the lead's compass had precessed 180 degrees out. We were heading 090 instead of 270.
Major mistake averted! Most of us were too concerned with flying into enemy fire than to worry about our navigation.
Yes stuff sometimes happens, but while Farsi Island had a good ending it's a reminder for us all to always and in everything check your heading.



Col. B. Bunny said...

I'm skeptical. It's too pat. One doesn't "reset" one's "electronics" to plot a different course. Plotting a different leg means you enter a different heading and off you go for the desired distance. Repeat as necessary. Your gear stays on and you use it per the directions. Resetting some computerized equipment means you basically turn it off then back on. Does that sound like SOP for simple course corrections?

I've used civilian boat nav GPS but, if anything, I'd think it's all much simpler with Navy gear.

This smoke screen also finesses the navigator's knowledge of where he was. Are we supposed to believe he or she didn't know where Iranian waters were? And just wanted a straight-line course for the heck of it?

I think we need to call in Capt. Crunch to get to the bottom of this.

Pundita said...

Hmmmm. Methinks you have a point. Unless of course the navigator is an idiot. These things do happen in the military, as Col.Lang & Co. pointed out. The timing however is suspicious....