The Search Continues for Two Missing Navy SEALs Who Fell Into the Sea off Somalia’s Coast

( — On Thursday, January 11, two U.S. Navy SEALs went missing during a mission to confiscate Iranian-made ballistic and cruise missile components from a traditional sailing vessel, sometimes referred to as a dhow, in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. The U.S. Navy has been intercepting such vessels carrying Iranian-made weapons to the Houthis for years. These missions can be hazardous as they operate under the cover of darkness, pulling alongside the dhows in a small vessel, boarding, and then interacting with the smugglers while they conduct the seizure of the dangerous cargo.

After the first Navy SEAL fell overboard, one of his compatriots followed standard protocol and dived in to assist him. The rest of the team continued their mission. Components for propulsion, air defense, and guidance were recovered, as well as warheads for anti-ship cruise missiles and medium-range ballistic missiles. Initial analysis of the recovered material indicates that they are the same weapons that have been used by the Houthis to threaten and attack international merchant ships in the Red Sea. They also detained 14 people who were aboard the ship, whose status has yet to be determined.

While the search for the two Navy SEALs is still ongoing, there is reason to hope they may still be alive. Former recon Marine Rudy Reyes commented that these men have some of the best survival training in the world, and the waters are warm, so there are good reasons to look forward to their safe retrieval. He conceded that this sort of mission can be very difficult, with variables like choppy seas, moving ships, darkness, exposure, and fatigue all being factors that can complicate the chances of survival.

U.S. CENTCOM Commander General Michael Erik Kurilla referred to the ongoing search as “exhaustive” but also said that these Navy SEALs are very competent in maritime operations. He added that his faith in American grit and determination fuels his belief that they may still be found alive. On Sunday, January 14, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby clarified that this mission wasn’t related to recent British and U.S. airstrikes against the Houthis but was part of ongoing missions to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Yemen.

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