Sailor who apologized to Iranian captors appeals punishment

The U.S. Navy lieutenant who apologized on video for “a mistake” while he and his crew were being held by Iranian captors in January is appealing his discipline for violating the service’s code of conduct, The Navy Times reported.

Lt. David Nartker was given a non-judicial punishment last week by the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, two officials familiar with the proceeding told The Times. Narker appeared before Rear Adm. Frank Morneau on Aug. 4 to hear the charges against him, Stars and Stripes reported.

The exact punishment given to Nartker and the charges leveled against him have not yet been revealed. Stars and Stripes reported the punishments could range from confinement to his quarters to a letter of reprimand – which could be a career-ender.

Nartker was the most senior officer of 10 sailors manning a pair of boats captured by Iran after the U.S. vessels accidentally strayed into Iranian waters on Jan. 12. He was filmed apologizing for the incursion on a video that was later released by Iran.

“It was a mistake,” Nartker said on camera. “That was our fault. And we apologize for our mistake.”

The sailors were detained for one night before being released.

“Left to his own devices, [Nartker] emulated the poor leadership traits he witnessed first-hand within his own chain of command,” the Iran incident investigation report said.

The NECC would not comment on the specifics of the case.

“Following [non-judicial punishment] proceedings, members may appeal the findings to a higher authority,” Lt. Cmdr. Jen Cragg said in an email to The Navy Times. “The appeal authority may set aside the punishment, decrease its severity, or deny the appeal, but may not increase the severity of the punishment.”

U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii has a 30-day period to review the appeal, Stars and Stripes reported.