According to two US military sources who spoke to NBC News, two Navy SEALs went missing after plunging into stormy nighttime waters while seizing a tiny ship off the coast of Somalia.
Military sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said one of the SEALs fell in while attempting to board a dhow, a tiny boat, on Thursday night as the waves were too severe. Two sailors followed procedure and swam to the first sailor’s assistance before vanishing into the night.
Rescue operations by air and sea are ongoing over the warm seas, which have persisted for four days after the men fell overboard.
They were examining yachts in the Gulf of Aden for illicit commodities like guns or narcotics when the two sailors, who were connected to a Naval Special Warfare Command squad, arrived. They are part of the Fifth Fleet, which is headquartered in Bahrain.
The sailors weren’t on the multinational mission sent to defend ships from assaults by the Houthis of Yemen. Nevertheless, the United States and its Western partners have been engaging in frequent raids to seize weapons from boats believed to be supplying the Houthis, an Iranian-backed group that backs Hamas and claims to want Israel’s destruction.
The United States military said on Sunday that an American destroyer was targeted by an anti-ship cruise missile launched from Yemeni territory held by the Houthi rebel group. In response, an American fighter aircraft successfully intercepted and destroyed the missile.
Other than being “forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F) area of operations supporting a broad range of tasks,” the statement did not specify the sailors’ current activity.
An ex-U.S. official said that night boarding missions are the most challenging and risky that Navy sailors face, with environmental and maritime conditions being monitored at all times.