Nearly All Of British Navy Members Detained By Iran Are Back At Work In The Persian Gulf

Tuesday, May 1st 2007, 3:13 pm
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Nearly half of the British Royal Navy personnel held captive by Iran are back in the Persian Gulf searching for smugglers, Britain's military said Tuesday.

Seven of the sailors in the group returned to duty on the frigate HMS Cornwall, the Defense Ministry said. Seven Royal Marines have returned to duty at a naval base in Scotland. No decision has been made on whether to send the marines back to the Persian Gulf, the Defense Ministry said.

The seven sailors, including the detained group's only woman, Leading Seaman Faye Turney, are again working in small boats boarding ships in Iraqi waters to check for contraband goods, the ministry said. It was during one such operation that the sailors and marines were captured by naval forces of Iran's Revolutionary Guards on March 23.

Iran charged them with being in its territorial waters, and televised apologies by some of the captured crew embarrassed the British government. Iran eventually freed the team without an apology from Britain, which steadfastly insisted the team was taken in Iraqi waters.

The only sailor still at home is Operator Mechanic Arthur Batchelor, who lost his passport and is waiting for a new one to be issued. British military personnel are required to carry passports overseas in case they need to use civilian airports.

Batchelor's failure to return to Iraq with his crewmates is his latest embarrassment.

British media ridiculed him for an interview in which he complained his captors took his iPod, flicked his neck and called him names. Media later ran pictures appearing to show him at a nightclub joking about his captivity by wearing a blindfold and pretending to hold a gun to his head.