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2 US Navy sailors missing off the coast of Somalia

January 13, 2024

(CNN) — Two US Navy sailors were reported missing while conducting operations Thursday off the coast of Somalia, according to US Central Command.

Search and rescue operations are ongoing to locate the sailors, Central Command said in a Friday statement.

The two sailors were boarding a vessel when one fell into the water due to eight-foot swells, and the second jumped in after them according to protocol, a US official told CNN Saturday.

The official explained that if someone falls during a boarding operation, it is to be assumed that they’re incapacitated or having a health emergency, and a teammate should jump in to save them.

The Central Command has not released information about what the sailors had been doing when they went missing other than to say they were “forward-deployed” to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet area of operations and were “supporting a wide variety of missions.”

It’s unclear what vessel the sailors were attempting to board.

“Out of respect for the families affected, we will not release further information at this time,” Friday’s statement said.

The US maintains a small military presence in Somalia which focuses on the threat of the al-Shabaab militant group, an extremist Islamist organisation that has carried out attacks against the Somali government.

The US recognises al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation.

In addition to training Somali forces, the US has also coordinated with the Somali government to carry out strikes against al-Shabaab.

According to US Africa Command, “Al-Shabaab is the largest and most kinetically active al-Qaeda network in the world and has proved both its will and capability to attack U.S. forces and threaten U.S. security interests.”

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Archive Photos/Getty Images


This story has been updated with additional information.

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