UPDATE: Search and rescue efforts are ongoing for two Navy SEALs who went missing in the Gulf of Aden. The SEALs were part of a mission to seize a dhow loaded with components for Iranian medium-range ballistic missiles, as reported by the Associated Press (AP).
The SEALs’ mission was launched from the USS Lewis B. Puller, a Navy expeditionary sea base vessel. The targeted boat, which was not flying a country flag, was recognized by the Navy for its history of illicitly transferring weapons from Iran to Somalia. U.S. officials believed that the targeted vessel was attempting to transfer the illegal cargo to another vessel near the coast of Somalia.
In the course of the operation, the Navy successfully took about a dozen members of the targeted vessel’s crew into custody and confiscated the weapons on board. Following standard naval procedure, the dhow was sunk, typically achieved by setting off explosives near its hull. This action was part of a larger effort to curb the illegal transfer of arms in the region, specifically those originating from Iran and intended for destinations like Somalia.
Two U.S. Navy SEALs went missing off the coast of Somalia during a nighttime boarding mission on Thursday. The incident occurred in the Gulf of Aden, where the SEALs were attempting to climb aboard a vessel. High waves knocked one SEAL into the sea, and following Navy protocol, the other SEAL jumped in to assist his comrade.
The U.S. Central Command has confirmed the ongoing search and rescue operation for the two sailors. Officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have stressed that the incident is not connected to the recent U.S. and international responses to Houthi-led attacks on shipping in the Red Sea or Iran’s seizure of an oil tanker.
The specifics of the mission, including the vessel the SEALs were attempting to board, remain unclear. The U.S. Navy has a significant presence in the area, conducting various operations to ensure maritime security and counter piracy efforts The command emphasized the importance of completing the personnel recovery mission before releasing further details about the incident that occurred.