Missing Seals Were On Secret Mission That Intercepted Iranian Missile Components Bound For Houthis

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Jan 16, 2024 - 07:40 PM

The Pentagon on Tuesday revealed more information about the two missing US Navy Seals, who disappeared off the cost of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday after they "fell into the water during a nighttime boarding mission" according to US military officials.

A search and rescue operation has continued, and the US Department of Defense has yet to formally declare them dead. The US has revealed additional information about their secretive mission, saying their team intercepted a shipment of Iranian missile components bound for Houthis in Yemen

Recovered missile components, photograph by US Navy/CENTCOM

The nighttime raid was conducted against a dhow, or a small sailing boat, which was found to have contained several advanced weapons components on board, according to the new press release by CENTCOM. 

The Seal team was "supported by helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)" and "executed a complex boarding of the dhow near the coast of Somalia in international waters of the Arabian Sea."

The military says that Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missiles components were seized from the vessel, and included "warheads for Houthi medium range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs)."

"It is clear that Iran continues shipment of advanced lethal aid to the Houthis. This is yet another example of how Iran actively sows instability throughout the region," CENTCOM commander Gen. Michael Kurilla said.

He further detailed the following:

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. The interdiction also constitutes the first seizure of advanced Iranian-manufactured ballistic missile and cruise missile components by the U.S. Navy since November 2019.

But importantly, the new statement also confirmed that the two Seals now lost at sea had been directly involved in his operation. "We are conducting an exhaustive search for our missing teammates," the CENTCOM statement emphasized.

The Seal boat had reportedly been headed toward a suspicious vessel off the Somali coast when the elite operators went overboard when a large wave crashed into them. One Seal fell into the sea, and the second reportedly went in while trying to rescue him. Locating them was complicated because it happened in the darkness of night in a vast ocean.

The intercepted dhow, which the US Navy later sunk. Image source: CENTCOM

When the incident was initially reported over the weekend, most news reports assumed or strongly suggested it may have been related to stopping Somali piracy. It was at first only reported that the vessel was deemed "suspicious" by the US Navy and so was approached by the Seal team.

Meanwhile, there have since been reported more strikes on Houthi sites in Yemen by the Western coalition which is patrolling the Red Sea.