The U.S. Navy is currently conducting rescue operations after two Navy SEALs went missing off of the waters of Somalia, U.S. Central Command announced on Friday, Jan. 12.
“On the evening of January 11, two U.S. Navy Sailors were reported missing at sea while conducting operations off the coast of Somalia,” CENTCOM said in a statement. “Search and rescue operations are currently ongoing to locate the two sailors.”
The Associated Press first reported that the missing sailors were SEALs. According to CENTCOM the missing sailors were there “supporting a wide variety of missions” in the 5th Fleet’s area of operations, which includes the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and other waters around the Middle East.
CENTCOM did not release any additional information about the operation or the missing sailors, citing both security and respect for the families of those missing.
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They disappeared the same day that the U.S. military carried out air strikes on several targets in Yemen, aimed at taking out military sites used by Houthi rebels. The U.S. Navy has stepped up its presence in the waters near the Middle East and Somalia, deploying destroyers, aircraft carriers and other assets to the region over the last three months. The Navy has been involved in several skirmishes with Houthi rebels in Yemen, shooting down missiles and drones launched at commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The more than two dozen incidents — which Houthi leaders have said is in response to Israel’s war in Gaza — led the U.S. and allies to launch air strikes on Yemen on Jan. 11.
It is unclear if the SEALs’ disappearance is connected to the strikes on Yemen or the ships that took part in those operations. CENTCOM also did not say if the sailors were participating in Operation Prosperity Guardian, the multinational freedom of navigation operation launched in response to shipping disruptions on the Red Sea.
This is a developing story.
Update: 1/13/2024: This story has been updated with confirmation that the missing sailors are Navy SEALs.