New Details Emerge About Navy SEALs Who Went Missing Near Somalia

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Duong Le)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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New details emerged Monday about the two sailors, now known to be Navy SEALs, who plunged into the waters while interdicting a vessel carrying Iranian weapons bound for Somalia, The Associated Press reported.

Search and rescue activities continued throughout the day for the two SEALs as a U.S. defense official revealed the two were on a mission to seize a dhow loaded with components for Iranian medium-range ballistic missiles, the AP reported. As the operators attempted to board the boat from a small special operations combat craft crewed by a special warfare team at around 8 p.m., a swell caught one of the SEALs and pulled him into the water, while the second went in after him.

Ships, helicopters and drones patrolled the area on Monday to locate the missing SEALs, according to the AP. The waters in the Gulf of Aden, where the two were conducting their mission, are warm, and SEALs are trained to survive in extreme circumstances, U.S. officials have said. (RELATED: US Fighter Aircraft Shoots Down Houthi Cruise Missile Flying Toward Navy Ship)

The SEALs’ combat craft operated from the USS Lewis B. Puller, a Navy expeditionary sea base vessel, according to the AP. The targeted boat did not bear a country flag, but the Navy recognized it as having a history of illegally transferring weapons from Iran to Somalia, the U.S. official said, according to the AP. Its captain had planned to transfer the illicit cargo to another vessel near the coast of Somalia.

The Navy took the targeted vessel’s crew of about a dozen members into custody and confiscated the weapons, the AP reported, citing the official. According to standard procedure, the boat was then sunk, usually by detonating explosives near the hull.

The mission was not related to Operation Prosperity Guardian, the coalition of more than 20 nations aimed at safeguarding shipping in the Red Sea region, officials said, according to the AP. It was also separate from the follow-on retaliatory strikes on a radar facility operated by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen that have threatened shipping in the Red Sea.

Search and rescue efforts are ongoing, a U.S. defense official told the Daily Caller News Foundation. The official declined to offer further details

Previously, the U.S. military’s Middle East command declined to provide additional details in order to protect operational security “until the personnel recovery operation is complete.”

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