Royal Navy crew captured by Iran, had met Gipsy Moth

The 15 Royal Navy crew held captive by Iran for 13 days and now released were part of a task force which met Gipsy Moth IV in the Gulf. They are all from HMS Cornwall, the Frigate 99 which rendezvoused with the famous ketch before the crisis.

HMS Cornwall was sailing south as part of the coalition force in the Gulf, while Gipsy Moth IV, complete with an RAF and Navy crew under the command of skipper John Jeffrey were sailing north with 20 other yachts making their way round the world with the Blue Water Rally.

Blue Water Rally director, Peter Seymour, said:’ Several members of Gipsy Moth’s crew were taken aboard HMS Cornwall for showers and hot food, more importantly a senior navy technician was taken aboard Gipsy Moth to try and repair the chronically faulty electronics, but unfortunately he was seasick!’

The sailors are on their way back to Britain after being freed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “gift” to the UK.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the homecoming would be “a profound relief” to the personnel and their families. The sailors were taken prisoner after Iranian officials claimed they had strayed into Iranian waters. This was denied by Blair. Later it transpired US forces had captured five Iranians, which, some feel, triggered the HMS Cornwall incident.

Gipsy Moth IV arrives in Plymouth on 28 May, 40 years to the day after Chichester completed his circumnavigation. Yachting Monthly will be aboard, we’ll keep you posted on the website.