Five British sailors were being held hostage by Iran last night after they were snatched from their racing yacht in the Gulf. I wonder if they will be braver than the Royal Navy crybabies who were captured by Iran in 2007?
The Foreign Office last night conceded that the crew of the Kingdom of Bahrain may have ‘inadvertently strayed’ into Iranian territorial waters as they sailed from Bahrain to Dubai for the start of an international race. It appears that the high-tech yacht was swept towards Iran by strong winds after its propeller was damaged.
The crew were named as Sam Usher, Olly Smith, Luke Porter and Oliver Young – and David Bloomer, who works as a radio presenter in Bahrain. Last night 21-year- old Mr Porter’s mother Beverley said her husband Charles had spoken to their son on his mobile phone. She said the sailors had strayed into Iranian waters by only 500 yards, but were now being held somewhere off Iran.
Her 48-year-old husband added: ‘From what we understand, there was an oil field on their charts – which is a restricted area – so they chose to go one side of it. ‘In doing so they strayed too close to a small island called Sirri. I assume that is when they were picked up. They’re miffed that they are being cooped up and a race was going on.’ (Awwwww)
Mr Porter added: ‘Luke is a very resilient chap. I’m sure he’ll deal with things very well but obviously we are very worried about him.’He said the four sailors had done thousands of miles together over the last three years. The Kingdom of Bahrain is a Volvo 60 – the Formula One car of racing yachts. It is operated by Team Pindar, an international racing team owned by British multi-millionaire Andrew Pindar, who received an OBE from Prince Charles in June for his services to business. It is one of only 19 such yachts in the world.
Diplomats say they have been in ‘indirect contact’ with the hostages and that they are confident they are being well treated.
Privately the officials are furious that the news broke. They had hoped to keep the incident secret in order to avoid a new diplomatic incident with Iran. (That’s right, don’t aggravate the Iranians, we know how stupid they made you look the last time)
The worst case scenario would see the sailors charged with espionage, handing the regime in Tehran another international propaganda coup. Iran’s foreign ministry is expected to make a statement on the sailors today. ‘The Iranians know that they are not British naval personnel,’ said one diplomat. ‘We’ve explained that to them very clearly. Whether they chose to hear is another matter.’
The fear is that the hostages have been taken by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – the powerful hardline group behind Iran’s nuclear weapons programme – which held the Navy personnel two years ago.
Ultimately their fate of the hostages is in the hands of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei. Earlier this year President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed that Britain was a worse enemy of Iran than the United States. UK DAILY MAIL
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