Following a 10-day multinational search operation, two US Navy Seals, who fell overboard during a boarding operation in the Arabian Sea, have been declared deceased after the search failed to locate them.

On January 11th, US Navy Seals deployed from the USS Lewis B Puller to conduct a boarding of an “illicit dhow” off the coast of Somalia in support of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 which prohibits the supply, sale or transfer of weapons to Houthi forces in Yemen.

The dhow was found to be carrying Iranian advanced conventional weapons including “propulsion, guidance, and warheads for Houthi medium range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), as well as air defense associated components.” This is the first such seizure by the US Navy since November 2019 and these components are believed to be of the same type used by the Houthis to target commercial shipping in recent months. 

The 14 crew members have been taken into custody and the dhow, deemed unsafe, was sunk. 

According to US defence officials, the Navy Seals were climbing a rope ladder during the boarding of the dhow in rough seas when one fell into the water and another jumped in after to attempt a rescue. The circumstances surrounding their loss is now the target of an investigation. In response to them being reported missing, an extensive search operation was conducted by Spanish, Japanese and US naval and air assets covering 21,000 square miles. 

On Sunday, January 21st, after 10 days of searching US Central Command changed their status to deceased and on Monday the US Navy identified them as Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram. 

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Callum runs the Open Source Defence (@OSDefence) twitter account providing regular OSINT-based updates on global defence news, in particular on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. He has a keen interest in aviation and defence and has engaged in the OSINT community for a number of years.
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Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

Rest in peace.

Patrick C
Patrick C
2 months ago

Very sad. I think I read it was 8-10 foot seas when the boarding took place so incredibly dangerous job that. Brave of the other one to jump in after his mate… I’d also read that is SEAL protocol when something like this happens but can’t imagine jumping into those conditions! You’d have to think with those waves how easy it would be to get pulled under or knocked out on the side of the boat. I’m surprised they don’t have some sort of tracking equipment for this sort of scenario but perhaps for opsec reasons SEALs would choose not… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago

‘Always on watch’