Two Navy SEALs Lost at Sea

( – Two US Navy special operations troops are missing in the Gulf of Aden. The two men went into the water off the coast of Somalia during a boarding operation. Despite an extensive search and rescue operation, no trace of them has been found, and hopes are fading.

On the night of January 11, a team of Navy SEALs, the US Navy’s special operations force, set out to board a boat in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia. SEALs have been searching suspicious vessels in the area to intercept weapons shipments from Iran to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been using Iranian missiles and drones to attack commercial shipping. These boarding operations often have to be carried out at night, as the small dhows that transport weapons try to avoid interception by hiding along the coast in daylight.

Unfortunately, when the SEALs boarded the suspect boat from their swimmer delivery vehicle last Thursday, the sea was rough and one team member was swept from a ladder by a wave. SEALs operate a “swim buddy” system, where troops operate in pairs; if one of the pair gets into trouble, the standard operating procedure is for the other to help them. When the first man was knocked off the ladder, the other dove in to assist. Unfortunately, the sea conditions were too heavy, and both were swept away.

Since the two men vanished, a search and rescue operation has been underway. Navy commanders say the water is warm so the men won’t be at serious risk from hypothermia; the danger is that they’ll become exhausted and be overwhelmed by the waves. There’s still some hope they’ll be found alive, but as time passes that’s diminishing. By this point, unless the missing men have managed to reach a boat or the shore it’s unlikely they’ll survive.

The boat the team intercepted turned out to be carrying missile warheads and rocket motors. With these sophisticated components supplied by Iran, the Houthis can build the crude missiles they use against ships. This cargo was stopped and the boat sunk — but it looks like two SEALs paid the ultimate price to achieve that.

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