/2 US Navy SEALs are missing after one fell off a boat in choppy water during a nighttime mission near Somalia, report says

2 US Navy SEALs are missing after one fell off a boat in choppy water during a nighttime mission near Somalia, report says


  • Two Navy SEALs are missing after one fell into the water near Somalia on Thursday, reports say.

  • A search-and-rescue operation is still underway.

  • Reports say the pair were boarding a vessel when one fell, and the other jumped in to help.

Two Navy SEALs are missing off the coast of Somalia after one fell into the water during a nighttime boarding mission on Thursday, US officials told the Associated Press.

The pair were climbing aboard a vessel while on a mission in the Gulf of Aden when high waves knocked one into the sea, the AP reported.

The second SEAL jumped in after him as part of Navy SEAL protocol to help a comrade in danger, the report said, and they both vanished.

The US officials spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

The US Central Command said in a statement Friday that a search-and-rescue mission was underway to find two sailors, though it did not specify that they were SEALs.

Reached by Business Insider early on Monday, a Pentagon spokesperson said they “have nothing new to provide.” The US Fleet Forces Command didn’t respond to requests for an update.

The Gulf of Aden has been a focal point of Navy activity in recent weeks. Still, officials told the AP and The Washington Post that the incident wasn’t related to the ongoing United States response to Houthi-led attacks on shipping in the Red Sea or to Iran seizing an oil tanker.

But two US officials later told the Post that the two sailors were sent to search for suspected Iranian weaponry heading for the Houthis in Yemen.

The details of the Navy SEALs’ mission and which vessel they were trying to board are still unclear, though it’s known that pirates roam the coast of Somalia hunting for cargo ships to hijack.

The Post reported that the US forces were often working with other nations on counter-piracy missions in the area, which sometimes included boarding vessels to ensure they had proper credentials and weren’t transporting illicit goods.

The AP reported that the US Navy had often conducted such interdiction missions to intercept weapons on ships heading for Houthi-controlled Yemen.

Centcom said the two sailors were “forward-deployed to the US 5th Fleet (C5F) area of operations supporting a wide variety of missions.”

The National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday that the search was “still ongoing” and that the vessel had been involved in a “normal interdiction” operation to try to disrupt the flow of weapon supplies to Yemen.

“It’s not related to the strikes that we took against the Houthis,” he said.

Correction: January 15, 2024 — An earlier version of this story misstated when the US Central Command’s statement was released. It was released Friday, not Saturday. It also incorrectly described John Kirby’s position. He’s a spokesperson for the National Security Council, not the Pentagon.

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