2 Navy SEALs missing during Somalia night strike declared dead

Military officials confirmed two Navy SEALs dead on Sunday after they went missing on January 11 during a night raid off the coast of Somalia.

Attempts to rescue the missing personnel were called off after a 10-day “exhaustive search” spanning 21,000 square kilometers, according to a social media post from CENTCOM. Operations to recover their remains will continue.

“We grieve the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare fighters and will always remember their sacrifice and example. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the US Navy, and the entire Special Operations community at this time,” stated USCENTCOM Commander General Michael Erik Kurilla in a statement.

According to a CENTCOM statement released on January 16, the couple, whose names have not been released, were lost at sea while on a mission to intercept Iranian warheads being sent to Yemen.

One of the SEALs was thrown into the sea by high waves in the Gulf of Aden while climbing onboard a vessel during their mission, according to AP. The second SEAL rushed in after his friend, and they both disappeared.

The vessel targeted by the SEALs was eventually intercepted. According to CENTCOM, it carried warheads for medium-range ballistic missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, and air defense components.

In response to Business Insider’s request for comment, the Department of Defense referred us to CENTCOM. Representatives from CENTCOM did not immediately respond to BI’s request for comment.

With their highly specialized training, SEALs are extremely unlikely to get lost overboard while on a mission, giving some hope that the couple would eventually be located.

The last reported SEAL overboard incident occurred in 2013 when 33-year-old special warfare operator 1st class Matthew John Leathers went missing at sea after a training exercise off the coast of Hawaii.

Leathers were never located.

While the actual number of SEALs lost at sea or killed while overseas missions are classified, the nonprofit Navy SEAL Foundation keeps track of 125 SEAL service members who have died while on active duty, diplomatic service, or as a result of service-related injuries since 2002.

“It’s not something that happens very often,” Joe Buccino, former director of communications at CENTCOM, told BI.

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