2 Navy SEALs fell into the water while on a mission off the coast of Somalia on Thursday.
A search and rescue operation is still underway.
The pair were boarding a vessel when one fell into the water, and the other jumped in to help.
Two Navy SEALs are missing off the coast of Somalia after falling into the water during a nighttime boarding mission on Thursday, US officials told the Associated Press.
The pair were climbing aboard a vessel while on a mission in the Gulf of Aden when high waves knocked one into the sea.
The second SEAL jumped in after him as part of Navy SEAL protocol to help a comrade in danger and both vanished, the AP said.
A search and rescue mission is underway to find two sailors, the US Central Command said in a statement Saturday.
The officials spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.
The Gulf of Aden has been a focal point of Navy activity in recent weeks. Still, officials told the AP and the Washington Post that the incident was not related to the ongoing United States response to Houthi-led attacks on shipping in the Red Sea or to Iran seizing an oil tanker.
However, two US officials later told the Post that the two sailors were sent to search for suspected Iranian weaponry heading for the Houthis in Yemen.
The details of the Navy SEALs’ mission and which vessel they were trying to board are still unclear, though it is known that pirates roam the coast of Somalia hunting for cargo ships to hijack.
US forces often work with other nations on counter-piracy missions in the area, which sometimes includes boarding vessels to ensure they have proper credentials and are not transporting illicit goods, according to the Post.
The US Navy has often conducted such interdiction missions to intercept weapons on ships heading for Houthi-controlled Yemen, per AP.
US Central Command, or CENTCOM, said the two sailors were “forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F) area of operations supporting a wide variety of missions.”
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told CBS’s Face The Nation on Sunday that the search is “still ongoing” and that the vessel was involved in a “normal interdiction” operation to try to disrupt the flow of weapon supplies to Yemen.
“It’s not related to the strikes that we took against the Houthis,” he said.
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