The Navy has identified the pair of Navy SEAL operators who fell into the water and went missing Jan. 11 amid efforts to board an unflagged ship carrying Iranian-made weapons to Houthi rebels off the coast of Somalia.
The two sailors were Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher Chambers, 37, and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram, 27.
The Navy called off the search for the pair of sailors Sunday after a 10-day effort that, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh, involved an "expansive search operation" using "airborne and naval platforms from the U.S., Japan and Spain [to] continuously search more than 21,000 square miles."
On the evening of Jan. 11, Chambers and Ingram were part of a group of SEALs who were operating from the expeditionary mobile base USS Lewis B. Puller "supported by helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles," according to a statement from U.S. Central Command released Jan. 16.
The Associated Press, citing defense officials, reported that, as the team was boarding the ship, one of the SEALs went under in the heavy seas, and a teammate went in to try and save him.
The statement identifying Chambers and Ingram did not specify which sailor went into the water first.
Ultimately, the seizure of the boat led to the discovery of Iranian-made missile components including "propulsion, guidance and warheads for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles, as well as air defense-associated components," the statement from Central Command said.
"Initial analysis indicates these same weapons have been employed by the Houthis to threaten and attack innocent mariners on international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea," according to the statement.
Records provided by the Navy show Chambers enlisted on May 17, 2012, and served with West Coast-based SEAL units since graduating from SEAL qualification training in Coronado, California, in 2014.
His awards and decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat "C," three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, an Army Achievement Medal, and a Combat Action Ribbon, among other awards.
Ingram enlisted in the Navy on Sept. 25, 2019, and joined a West Coast-based SEAL unit in 2021. His awards include Global War on Terror service medals and a Good Conduct medal.
"Chris and Gage selflessly served their country with unwavering professionalism and exceptional capabilities," Capt. Blake Chaney, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, said in the Navy's statement Monday.
"This loss is devastating for [Navy Special Warfare], our families, the special operations community, and across the nation," he said.
Singh said that the Navy is not making any changes or pausing operations as a result of the incident but she did say that "there's certainly going to be an investigation into what exactly happened."