How Two Elite U.S. Navy SEALs Were Lost At Sea

U.S. Navy SEALs
January 22, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Middle East Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Navy SealsU.S. NavyMilitaryDefenseHouthisSomaliaYemen

How Two Elite U.S. Navy SEALs Were Lost At Sea

The U.S. military has concluded an extensive search-and-rescue operation to locate the two missing Navy SEALs who were lost at sea during a risky operation in the Gulf of Aden.

 

The U.S. military has concluded an extensive search-and-rescue operation to locate the two missing Navy SEALs who were lost at sea during a risky operation in the Gulf of Aden.

Navy SEALs: Missing At Sea

The incident took place on January 11 during a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) operation in the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen. 

 

U.S. assets in the area located a suspicious dhow, and the SEAL platoon got the word to board and search the vessel despite the heavy seas. In approaching the dhow, the SEALs attached ladders and started assenting. However, one of the frogmen was taken off the ladder by a wave. A second SEAL jumped after his teammate in an effort to save him. 

The rest of the platoon continued on with the operation, securing the dhow and apprehending the crew. Suspicions proved accurate as the boat was carrying Iranian advanced conventional weapons and sensors to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

“We regret to announce that after a 10-day exhaustive search, our two missing U.S. Navy SEALs have not been located and their status has been changed to deceased,” the U.S. Central Command stated in a press release. 

Warships and air assets from the U.S., Japan, and Spain searched more than 21,000 square miles over a ten day period. In addition, the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command, University of San Diego – Scripts Institute of Oceanography, and the Office of Naval Research – Oceanographic Support supported the search-and-rescue operation. 

“We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example. Our prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the U.S. Navy, and the entire Special Operations community during this time,” General Michael Erik Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said. 

CENTCOM declined to release any further details about the missing SEALs at this time. 

“We mourn the loss of our two brave Navy SEALs, and our hearts are with their families. The entire Department is united in sorrow today. We are grateful to all who worked tirelessly to try to find and rescue them,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

The two missing special operators mark the first U.S. military casualties in the operation against the Houthis

Operations Against the Houthis 

At around the same time the two SEALs went missing, a U.S.-led coalition launched a series of strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. In the span of a few hours on January 11, Western fighter jets and warships attacked scores of Houthi targets at numerous locations in Yemen. 

U.S. Navy SEALs

The strikes came after repeated drone and missile attacks by the Houthis against merchant shipping and warships in the area. 

U.S. Navy SEALs

Since then, the U.S. military has launched additional strikes against the Houthis, targeting their infrastructure, weapon systems, munition depots, command and control centers, production facilities, and surveillance systems. 

The U.S., Australia, Bahrain, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom participated in the operation. 

About the Author  

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP. Email the author: [email protected].

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