The two Navy SEALs who are presumed dead after going missing during a Jan. 11 boarding mission near the Somali coast have been identified as Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers, 37, and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram, 27.

Chambers, who the Navy said is from Maryland, was a combat veteran and had been a SEAL for nearly a decade. Ingram, who was from Texas, graduated from SEAL training at the end of 2021, according to the Navy.

“We extend our condolences to Chris and Gage’s families, friends, and teammates during this incredibly challenging time,” Navy Capt. Blake L. Chaney, commander, Naval Special Warfare Group 1, said in a statement. “They were exceptional warriors,  cherished teammates, and dear friends to many within the Naval Special Warfare community.”

Little information has been publicly released about how Chambers and Ingram went missing during the mission. Media outlets have reported that Ingram slipped off a ladder while climbing aboard a dhow and Chambers jumped into the water to try to rescue him. Neither was seen again.

U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, announced on Sunday that both SEALs were presumed dead after 10 days of search efforts failed to locate them. Ships and aircraft from the United States, Japan, and Spain searched more than 21,000 square miles for Chambers and Ingram.

Chambers enlisted in the Navy in May 2012 and later served with West Coast-based SEAL units after graduating from SEAL qualification training in 2014, according to the Navy. His military awards include the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat “C,” three Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal, and three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.

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Ingram, who went by his middle name “Gage,” joined the Navy in September 2019 and completed SEAL qualification training in 2021. He served with West Coast-based SEAL units, and his military awards and decorations include the Navy “E” Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal Active, Nation Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

“Chris and Gage selflessly served their country with unwavering professionalism and exceptional capabilities,” Chaney said in the statement. “This loss is devastating for NSW [Naval Special Warfare’, our families, the special operations community, and across the nation.”

Both men were part of a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit that boarded a dhow on the night of Jan. 11 that was carrying ballistic and cruise missile parts for Houthi rebels in Yemen. The dhow was sunk afterward.

“The incident remains under investigation. Naval Special Warfare’s top priority is to respect the families’ privacy while providing unwavering support to them, their loved ones, and our personnel affected by this loss,” the Navy announced on Monday.

The SEALs were taking part in an extremely dangerous type of mission known as Visit, Board, Search and Seizure, or VBSS. SEALs can spend hours braving rough seas in a small, open boat before climbing a rope ladder onto another vessel while carrying their weapons and other gear.

SEAL identified VBSS boarding
Navy SEALs and Combatant-Craft Crewmen secure a ladder during a visit, board, search, and seizure exercise in 2020. Army photo by Sgt. Aven Santiago,

It is easy for a Navy special operator to fall overboard during such missions, said the SEAL veteran, who added that SEALs instinctively aid their teammates in emergencies.

President Joe Biden issued a statement on Monday saying that he and First Lady Jill Biden mourn the loss of Ingram and Chambers.

“These SEALs represented the very best of our country, pledging their lives to protect their fellow Americans,” Biden said. “Our hearts go out to the family members, loved ones, friends, and shipmates who are grieving for these two brave Americans. Our entire country stands with you. We will never fail to honor their service, their legacy, and their sacrifice.”  

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