Iran hostage captain is removed from post

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The Independent Online

The commanding officer at the centre of the Iranian hostage crisis has been removed from his post, the Ministry of Defence said today.

Commander Jeremy Woods was captain of the frigate HMS Cornwall when 15 sailors and Royal Marines were captured by Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf in March last year.

Iran claimed the group, who were conducting board-and-search operations, had strayed into their territorial waters.

They were arrested at gunpoint and held for 13 days before being released.

A parliamentary inquiry called the episode a "national embarrassment" and in December MPs said formal administration action has been taken against a number of service personnel.

The MoD said Cdr Woods was moved "to a post where his talents and experience can be used to best effect".

The spokesman said the transfer was an "internal administrative matter" and Cdr Woods would keep his rank and continue to serve in the Royal Navy.

He said: "We can confirm that Commander Jeremy Woods, Commanding Officer of HMS Cornwall, has been removed from command.

"This is an internal administrative matter between the individual and his senior officers and we will not give further details of the removal.

"Cdr Woods will continue to serve in the Royal Navy and he will be reappointed to a post where his talents and experience can be used to best effect."

The spokesman said that a new commanding officer was being appointed to HMS Cornwall, which is undergoing sea training and is expected to return to her home port in Plymouth on Thursday.

Cdr Woods was promoted to Commander in June 2004 and took control of HMS Cornwall in November 2006.

The ship was his second command after the minehunter HMS Bangor.

He has been in the Navy for 23 years and served in the first Gulf War and in Nato operations in Bosnia.

The seven Royal Marines and eight sailors were seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards following a boarding operation in the Persian Gulf off Iraq.

They were later released in a fanfare of publicity by president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the MoD suffered more embarrassment when they allowed some of the hostages, including Faye Turney and Arthur Batchelor, to sell their stories to the media.