February 21, 2024

By Lolita C. Baldor | Related Press

WASHINGTON — Beneath the darkness of night time, within the roiling excessive seas off the coast of Somalia, members of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Workforce 3 started to climb aboard an unflagged ship that was carrying illicit Iranian-made weapons to Yemen.

Navy Particular Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers. Division of Protection through AP

As Navy Particular Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram started climbing the ladder onto the boat, he slipped, falling into a niche the waves had created between the vessel and the SEALs’ combatant craft. As he went below, Navy Particular Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers jumped into the hole to attempt to save him, based on U.S. officers acquainted with the incident.

It was an instinctive act, honed by years of coaching, one teammate going to a different’s help. However weighed down by their physique armor, weapons and heavy gear, the 2 SEALs plunged into the depths of the Arabian Sea and died, stated the officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity to offer particulars of the Jan. 11 raid.

The mission got here because the interdiction of weapons to Yemen takes on new urgency. The Yemen-based Houthis have been conducting a marketing campaign of missile and drone assaults in opposition to business and Navy ships within the Pink Sea and Gulf of Aden over Israel’s battle on Hamas within the Gaza Strip. And U.S. retaliatory strikes have up to now not deterred their assaults.

The 11-day search and rescue mission to find the 2 SEALs was known as off on Sunday and have become a restoration effort. And on Monday, the Navy launched their names, after their households had been notified.

“Chris and Gage selflessly served their nation with unwavering professionalism and distinctive capabilities,” stated Capt. Blake Chaney, commander of Naval Particular Warfare Group 1, which oversees SEAL Workforce 3. “This loss is devastating for NSW, our households, the particular operations group, and throughout the nation.”

On the White Home, President Joe Biden stated in an announcement that, “Jill and I are mourning the tragic deaths of two of America’s most interesting — Navy SEALs who had been misplaced at sea whereas executing a mission off the coast of East Africa final week.” He stated the SEALs signify “the easiest of our nation, pledging their lives to guard their fellow Individuals. Our hearts exit to the relations, family members, mates, and shipmates who’re grieving for these two courageous Individuals.”

The U.S. Navy’s fifth Fleet is conducting an investigation into the incident. That probe is predicted to look at whether or not the SEALs had been correctly geared up and skilled for the mission, whether or not procedures had been adopted, and any choices relating to the timing and approval of the raid, together with the climate and the state of the seas.

Based on officers, the commandos launched from the usLewis B. Puller, a cellular sea base, they usually had been backed up by drones and helicopters. They loaded onto small particular operations fight craft pushed by naval particular warfare crew to get to the boat. It was the kind of boarding for which SEALs practice routinely, and unlawful weapons shifting from Iran to Yemen-based Houthis have been a persistent concern, notably because the rebels proceed to focus on business vessels within the area.

This photo provided by the Department of Defense shows Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram. Ingram is one of the two SEALs who were lost at sea during a raid on a boat carrying illicit Iranian-made weapons to Yemen. The two were lost in the roiling high seas off the coast of Somalia. The rescue mission was called off and the SEALs are considered deceased. Recovery efforts continue. (Department of Defense via AP)
Navy Particular Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram. Division of Protection through AP

The group boarding the dhow was going through greater than a dozen crew members. They finally seized an array of Iranian-made weaponry, together with cruise and ballistic missile elements corresponding to propulsion and steering units and warheads, in addition to air protection elements, Central Command stated.

The raid was the newest seizure by the U.S. Navy and its allies of weapon shipments sure for the rebels, who’ve launched a collection of assaults now threatening world commerce within the Pink Sea and Gulf of Aden. The seized missile elements included varieties possible utilized in these assaults.

Chambers and Ingram, who had been assigned to a West Coast-based SEAL unit, “had been distinctive warriors, cherished teammates, and pricey mates to many throughout the Naval Particular Warfare group,” stated Chaney.

Chambers, 37, of Maryland, enlisted within the Navy in 2012, and graduated from SEAL coaching in 2014. His awards embody the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Fight “C” and three Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals. Ingram, 27, of Texas, enlisted in 2019, and graduated from SEAL coaching in 2021.