On Sunday, the U.S. military announced that the 10-day search to rescue two Navy SEALs, who were lost in the Arabian Sea while on a mission to board a ship and confiscate Iranian-made weapons, has ended, and the SEALs are now considered deceased.
In a statement, U.S. Central Command announced that the search has been changed to a recovery effort. The names of the SEALs have not been released, as family notifications are ongoing.
The military said that ships and aircraft from the U.S., Japan and Spain searched more than 21,000 square miles, with assistance from the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command, and the University of San Diego – Scripts Institute of Oceanography and the Office of Naval Research.
“We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example,” said Gen. Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command. “Our prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the U.S. Navy and the entire Special Operations community during this time.”
According to officials, the raid took place on Jan. 11 and targeted an unflagged ship carrying illicit Iranian-made weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Officials have said that as the team was boarding the ship, one of the SEALs went under in the heavy seas, and a teammate went in to try and save him.
The SEAL team had launched from the USS Lewis B. Puller, a mobile sea base, and was backed by drones and helicopters. They loaded onto small special operations combat craft piloted by naval special warfare crew to get onto the boat.
In the raid, they seized various Iranian-made weapons, including cruise and ballistic missile components, such as propulsion and guidance devices and warheads as well as air defense parts, Central Command said.
This is the latest in a series of seizures by the U.S. Navy and its allies, as more weapons shipments make their way to the rebels who have launched multiple attacks and threatened global trade in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The seized missile components included types likely used in those attacks.
The ship carrying the weapons was sunk after the Navy deemed it unsafe, and the ship’s crew, 14 in all, were detained.
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