Iran detained the crews of two U.S Navy boats in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday after the patrol boats appeared to have drifted into Iranian territorial waters, according to Pentagon officials. U.S. officials say one of boats broke down en route from Kuwait to Bahrain and that Iran had agreed to release the sailors. Ten sailors—nine men and one woman—were detained on Iran’s Farsi Island in the Gulf, according to NBC News.
“The Pentagon said they had been on a routine training mission, but those waters are a frequent location for intelligence collection by the United States, Iran and many Gulf countries,” according to the New York Times. “A senior military official said he expected the sailors to remain held overnight and be released on Wednesday.”
The nature of the mechanical failure remains unclear, but Secretary of State John Kerry contacted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who assured Kerry the sailors would be released promptly, Reuters reports. It continues to be a delicate time for U.S.-Iran relations as the nuclear deal begins to be implemented. An American official told the Times “that military and diplomatic contacts with the Iranians had been professional, which he credited to the stepped-up engagement over the nuclear accord.”