Monday, February 26, 2024

Navy SEALs Who Went Missing off Somali Coast Pronounced Dead

Expeditionary sea bases USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) and USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) sail together in the Gulf of Aden. Lewis B. Puller is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Frederick Poirier)

After a 10-day search for two missing U.S. Navy SEALs, the sailors have been pronounced dead, the Department of Defense reports.

The sailors went missing during a Jan. 11 night-time seizure of a dhow conducting illegal transport of advanced lethal aid from Iran to resupply Houthi forces in Yemen as part of the Houthis’ ongoing campaign of attacks against international merchant shipping.

“We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example. Our prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the U.S. Navy, and the entire Special Operations community during this time,” said General Michael Erik Kurilla, USCENTCOM Commander.

The Navy is not releasing the names of the deceased to protect the privacy of their families. The operation was conducted by the USS Lewis B Puller (ESB 3), which is homeported in Manama, Bahrain.

The search for the two sailors included airborne and naval platforms from the U.S., Japan, and Spain across more than 21,000 square miles. Search assistance was also provided by Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command, University of San Diego – Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and the Office of Naval Research – Oceanographic Support.

During the operation in which the sailors went missing, the USS Lewis B Puller, supported by helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), boarded the dhow off the Somali coast, seizing Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missiles components, the military reports.

Seized items include 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 mariners on international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea.

This is the first seizure of lethal, Iranian-supplied advanced conventional weapons (ACW) to the Houthis since the beginning of Houthi attacks against merchant ships in November 2023.

Megan Kitt
Megan Kitt
Megan has worked as a reporter for more than 15 years, and her work in both print and digital journalism has been published in more than 25 publications worldwide. She is also an award-winning photographer. She holds BA degrees in journalism, English literature and creative writing and an MA degree in creative writing and literature. She believes a quality news publication's purpose is to strengthen a community through informative and connective reporting.Megan is also a mother of three and a Navy spouse. After living around the world both as a journalist and as a military spouse, she immediately fell in love with San Diego and Coronado for her family's long-term home.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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