Two US Navy sailors who were stationed in the 5th Fleet’s area of operation have been reported missing off the coast of Somalia, according to a statement issued by the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) on Friday. The sailors’ identities were not disclosed.
“On the evening of January 11, two US Navy sailors were reported missing at seat while conducting operations off the coast of Somalia,” the Pentagon said. “Search and rescue operations are currently ongoing to locate the two sailors.”
Citing security concerns, officials have announced that they will withhold further details until the completion of the rescue operation. The command has emphasized that private information about the sailors will also be kept confidential, considering the families’ well-being.
“For operational security purposes, we will not release additional information until the personnel recovery operation is complete,” stated CENTCOM.
The United States 5th Fleet oversees operations in a vast area, covering 2.5 million square miles of water in the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, and parts of the Indian Ocean. This region includes 21 nations and three critical choke points—the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb in southern Yemen, according to the Navy’s website.
These developments occur amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict and Houthi rebels’ attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea, escalating tension in the region.
In response, the United States and the United Kingdom conducted airstrikes against Houthi rebels, who have vowed to retaliate.
The U.S. and UK launched fresh strikes against Houthis in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, as reported by Reuters, citing the Houthi movement’s TV channel Al-Masirah. This followed President Joe Biden’s commitment to further military action if Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea persisted, despite previous airstrikes on the Iran-backed group.
Earlier in the week, U.S. and British warplanes, ships, and submarines targeted Yemen-controlled locations, framing their maritime campaign as support for Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza facing Israeli siege.
Biden stated, “We will make sure that we respond to the Houthis if they continue this outrageous behavior.” Reports of explosions at military bases near Sanaa and Taiz airports, a naval base in Hodeidah, and military sites in the Hajjah governorate surfaced early on Friday, Yemen time.