Two Navy SEALs who went missing earlier this month during an overnight mission off the coast of Somalia are now presumed dead, U.S. military officials said Sunday.
The announcement caps a 10-day search and rescue for the two SEALs who were carrying out a weapons raid of an illicit ship in the Arabian Sea on Jan. 11 when they went overboard, U.S. Central Command said.
The ship was later determined to be carrying Iranian weapons bound for Houthi fighters in Yemen, the military said.
More than 21,000 square miles were searched with the help of U.S., Japanese and Spanish air and naval resources before both men were declared deceased. “We are now conducting recovery operations,” the command said in a statement.
From left: Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram.
The two men were identified on Monday as Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram.
Chambers enlisted in the Navy in 2012 and graduated from SEAL qualification training in 2014. Ingram enlisted in the Navy in 2019 and graduated from SEAL qualification training in 2021, the U.S. Navy said.
“We extend our condolences to Chris and Gage’s families, friends, and teammates during this incredibly challenging time,” said Naval Special Warfare Commander Capt. Blake L. Chaney in a statement. “They were exceptional warriors, cherished teammates, and dear friends to many within the Naval Special Warfare community.”
Two U.S. Navy SEALS have been declared dead after vanishing in the Arabian Sea on Jan. 11 while boarding a ship, pictured, that the military said was carrying Iranian weapons bound for Yemen.
The SEALs were attempting to board the ship in rough waters when one either slipped off the boarding ladder or was swept away by a high wave. The other SEAL then jumped in to try to save the first but also went missing, The New York Times reported citing one current and one former Pentagon official.
The U.S. Navy ultimately took custody of the ship, and during an extensive search of the vessel, Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missiles components were recovered, the command said.
The U.S. military said the Navy confiscated Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missiles components that were bound for Houthi fighters in Yemen.
“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,” the command said in a statement. “The direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of weapons to the Houthis in Yemen violates U.N. Security Resolution 2216 and international law.”
A total of 14 crew members were removed from the ship, which was then sunk by U.S. Navy forces after the vessel was deemed unsafe.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden expressed their condolences to the SEALs’ friends, family and shipmates on Monday while recognizing the men as having “represented the very best of our country.”
“Our entire country stands with you. We will never fail to honor their service, their legacy, and their sacrifice,” the Bidens said in a statement.
The Navy said the incident remains under investigation, while Central Command said no further information will be released out of respect for the families.