Two Navy SEALs Missing in Arabian Sea Declared Deceased

January 21, 2024 6:42 PM
US Navy Photo

The two Navy SEALs who went missing during a raid on a ship carrying missile parts for Houthi forces were declared deceased, U.S. Central Command announced on Sunday.

The two unidentified SEALs went missing in the Arabian Sea on Jan. 11, during a nighttime raid on the stateless dhow in the Arabian Sea, USNI News previously reported.

“We regret to announce that after a 10-day exhaustive search, our two missing U.S. Navy SEALs have not been located and their status has been changed to deceased. The search and rescue operation for the two Navy SEALs reported missing during the boarding of an illicit dhow carrying Iranian advanced conventional weapons Jan. 11 concluded and we are now conducting recovery operations,” reads the statement from CENTCOM.

The two special operators are the first two deaths of U.S. forces since the American naval build-up in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Southern Israel.

U.S., Spanish and Japanese naval forces searched more than 21,000 square miles for the missing sailors.

The SEALs were part of the mission launched from the expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) that interdicted the dhow off the coast of Somalia.

The oil-tanker-sized Puller is a platform for mine-counter measure and special operations forces.

The seized weapons included, “propulsion, guidance, and warheads for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), as well as air defense associated components. Initial analysis indicates these same weapons have been employed by the Houthis to threaten and attack innocent mariners on international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea,” reads a Jan. 16 statement from CENTCOM.

Boardings of unknown ships at night are among the most complicated and dangerous missions for naval special operations forces.

“It’s the sketchiest thing I did in the teams,” a former SEAL told Task & Purpose.

Sunday’s statement did not give a timeline for releasing the identities of the two SEALs lost at sea.

“Out of respect for the families, no further information will be released at this time,” reads the Sunday statement.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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