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'Brits should've known' Aussie sailors had problems with Iranians in 2004

By Paul Wallis     Jun 22, 2007 in World
Curiouser and curiouser. The information has finally been dragged out of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) that an incident similar to that which occurred with Royal Navy (RN) personnel happened to Australian sailors- in 2004.
Intriguingly, even this level of information doesn't come direct from the RAN. It comes from "sources". Meaning probably that somebody knew something, and the information has been unofficially moved from ship to shore.
Doesn’t say much for the embedding process, when Australian media have been trumpeting their attachment to military units in the Gulf and Iraq. The RAN, and the Australian military generally, is very close-mouthed about any operational information, but this is pretty impressive, even by its standards. Not many military sources know how to keep their mouths shut like that. The BBC must have had to dig hard for this piece of information.
Even more interesting is how the Brits have decided to play the information, now they’ve got it. The British sailors are said to have had “no choice” in their actions. Additionally,.every military unit in the Gulf has rules of engagement, and it is quite possible the British were under direct orders not to engage Iranian forces unless told otherwise, or only in specific situations.
In which case the RN is hardly likely to tell Iran what its rules of engagement are, and encourage provocation.
It's also not unreasonable that the sailors chose not to restage Trafalgar in rubber dinghies. Tactical stupidity isn't in very high demand in the Royal Navy, historically.
That was the information, and was pretty much accepted as the facts, or something like them. A BBC commentator trying to put the RN in a more favorable light months later by comparing cases, inappropriately, in terms of circumstances, has somehow made these rather believable situations a bit less believable. In this case unnecessarily protesting too much has made a murky situation considerably murkier.
Update: RAN has officially confirmed the story. The Australian sailors were in a four hour standoff with the Iranians until extracted by helicopter and returned to HMAS Adelaide.
It seems the British media also originally got the time of this event wrong, and thought it happened a few months before the British sailors's ordeal.
More about Iraq, Sailors, Iran