In a concerning development, two U.S. Navy SEALs are reported missing after undertaking a nighttime boarding mission off the coast of Somalia, according to three U.S. officials.
The SEALs were engaged in an interdiction mission, scaling a vessel when one of them was knocked off by high waves. Following their protocol, the second SEAL jumped in after the missing teammate. As of now, both SEALs remain unaccounted for. A search and rescue mission is currently underway in the warm waters of the Gulf of Aden, where the incident occurred, according to two of the U.S. officials.
The U.S. Navy has been routinely conducting interdiction missions, intercepting weapons on ships destined for Houthi-controlled Yemen. However, it’s crucial to note that this particular mission was unrelated to Operation Prosperity Guardian, an ongoing U.S. and international mission providing protection to commercial vessels in the Red Sea. Additionally, it had no connection to recent retaliatory strikes by the United States and the United Kingdom in Yemen over the past two days, nor was it related to the seizure of the oil tanker St. Nikolas by Iran, as confirmed by a third U.S. official.
The officials, speaking anonymously to disclose details not yet public, clarified that the mission aimed at defending ships from launched drones and missiles originating from Houthi-controlled regions of Yemen. The U.S. military has also played a role in aiding commercial ships targeted by piracy.
In an official statement released on Saturday, U.S. Central Command announced the ongoing search and rescue operations to locate the two missing sailors. The command emphasized that additional information regarding the Thursday night incident would not be disclosed until the personnel recovery mission is successfully completed.
The sailors in question were forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, actively supporting a diverse range of missions. The situation remains fluid as the search efforts continue in hopes of a successful recovery.