Reports indicate that two United States Navy SEALs are unaccounted for off the coast of Somalia after a tragic conclusion to a rescue mission, according to US officials briefed by the Associated Press.
The incident unfolded during a nighttime boarding operation in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday. The Navy SEALs were climbing aboard a vessel when high waves unexpectedly swept one into the sea. In adherence to Navy SEAL protocol, the second SEAL leaped in to assist his imperilled comrade, and both disappeared into the water.
A search and rescue mission is currently underway to locate the missing sailors, as confirmed by the US Central Command in a statement released on Saturday.
The officials providing information to the Associated Press did so under the condition of anonymity.
Although the Gulf of Aden has been a focal point of recent Navy activity, sources have clarified to the Associated Press that this incident is unrelated to the ongoing US response to Houthi-led attacks on Red Sea shipping or Iran’s seizure of an oil tanker.
While the specifics of the Navy SEALs’ mission and the targeted vessel remain unclear, the coast of Somalia is known to be frequented by pirates seeking to hijack cargo ships.
In the region, US forces often collaborate with other nations on counter-piracy efforts, involving the boarding of vessels to verify proper credentials and ensure the absence of illicit goods, as reported by The Washington Post.
The US Navy has historically conducted interdiction missions to intercept weapons destined for Houthi-controlled Yemen, according to the Associated Press.
US Central Command identified the two missing sailors as being “forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F) area of operations, supporting a wide variety of missions.”