The US navy has ended a 10-day search and rescue operation for two members of the elite Seals navy force who vanished off Somalia’s coast on the night of 11 January.
The Seals disappeared as they attempted to intercept a dhow that was carrying weapons.
One of the Seals fell into the rough night-time waters while boarding the dhow, prompting the second Seal to jump in for a rescue attempt.
Neither of them resurfaced.
“We regret to announce that after a 10-day exhaustive search, our two missing US Navy Seals have not been located and their status has been changed to deceased,” the US Central Command said on Sunday, adding that it was “now conducting recovery operations”.
Japanese and Spanish forces had aided in the search, using ships and aircraft to comb more than 21,000 square miles (54,380 square km) in the Gulf of Aden.
The Seals were part of a naval unit that has been intercepting weapons and other illegal shipments in the region, unrelated to the ongoing operation to protect vessels in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemen’s Houthis rebel group.