On January 11th, two US Navy SEALs fell into the waters while attempting to overtake an unflagged ship off the coast of Somalia. Leaving the expeditionary mobile base USS Lewis B. Puller, they were followed by manned and unmanned helicopters. One of the men fell into the water, and according to SEAL protocol, the other followed after him.
Identified as Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher Chambers, 37, and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram, 27, their bodies have yet to be recovered. The search for their remains was called off ten days later.
Covering over 21,000 square miles, the Navy was joined by air and sea-based assets from Japan and Spain in the search, but to no avail.
The ship the duo was attempting to board was transporting Iranian-made weapons to Houthi rebels in the area. Conducting the raid in heavy seas, the weather made a tremendous impact on the search efforts, eventually taking them from a search and rescue status to search and recovery before eventually shutting the search down entirely.
According to a statement from Central Command, the ship was found to be transporting “propulsion, guidance, and warheads for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles, as well as air defense-associated components. 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 Navy announced that there would be no change to the operational status of their SEAL Team, nor in the procedures they are using in the area. However, a thorough and detailed investigation into exactly what happened and why would be conducted. Given the Navy’s history of learning from tragedy, we can expect some big changes soon.
Rest east Frogmen. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten. To your family, friends, and fellow sailors, on behalf of a grateful nation, we mourn with you.