In the Gulf of Aden, two special operations troops of the United States Navy have gone missing. During a boarding operation, the two men dove into the ocean near the Somali shore. No sign of them has been found despite a massive search and rescue operation, and optimism is dwindling.
Near Somalia’s coast in the Gulf of Aden, a group of Navy SEALs (a special operations unit of the United States Navy) embarked on a mission to board a boat on the evening of January 11. In an effort to prevent the Houthi rebels in Yemen from receiving weaponry from Iran, the US Navy SEALs have been conducting searches of suspect vessels in the region. The rebels have been attacking commercial ships using Iranian-made missiles and drones. Since the little dhows that carry weapons attempt to hide along the coast during the day in order to evade detection, these boarding operations are frequently have to be conducted at night.
Last Thursday, while the SEALs were boarding the suspect boat from their swimmer delivery vehicle, the waves were so strong that one of their own team members was swept off a ladder. As part of their “swim buddy” method, SEALs have troops work in pairs; if one gets into danger, the other is expected to assist. One man jumped down from the ladder to help the other after he was knocked off. Sadly, the waves were too strong, and they were both carried away.
A rescue mission has been searching for the two men ever since they went missing. The sailors won’t be seriously at risk from hypothermia, according to navy officials; the concern is that they’ll grow fatigued and overwhelmed by the waves. As time goes on, the likelihood of their survival decreases, but it is still not completely eliminated. If the men who went missing haven’t made it to land or a boat by now, they probably won’t make it.
As it turned out, the team’s target vessel was actually transporting rocket motors and missile warheads. The Iranian-supplied sophisticated components allow the Houthis to construct their rudimentary missiles, which they employ in their attacks on ships. The ship went down with this cargo, but it appears that two SEALs gave their lives for it.