The U.S. military announced on Sunday that the 10-day search for two Navy SEALs who went missing in the Arabian Sea while attempting to board a ship and seize weapons developed in Iran has come to an end, and the sailors are officially deemed dead.
U.S. Central Command announced in a statement that the search has now been renamed as a recovery operation. While family notifications are still being sent out, the SEALs’ names have not been disclosed.
With support from the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command, the University of San Diego Scripts Institute of Oceanography, the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, and the U.S. Coast Guard, ships and aircraft from the United States, Japan, and Spain continuously searched an area of more than 21,000 square miles, according to the military.
“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.”
Officials claim that the Jan. 11 attack was directed against an unflagged ship that was supplying the Houthi militants in Yemen with illegal weaponry manufactured in Iran. According to officials, during the team’s embarkation onto the vessel, a SEAL member submerged in the turbulent waters, prompting a fellow member to attempt to save him.
Supported by drones and helicopters, the commandos had taken out from the USS Lewis B. Puller, a mobile maritime base. To reach the boat, they boarded small special operations fighting craft piloted by a naval special warfare personnel.
According to Central Command, during the attack, a variety of Iranian-made weapons were taken, including air defense and cruise and ballistic missile pieces as well as propulsion and guidance equipment and warheads.