"We mourn the loss of our two brave Navy SEALs, and our hearts are with their families," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said
The two US Navy SEALs who went missing off the coast of Somalia on January 11 are dead, US Central Command said after searching for them for 10 days.
"We regret to announce that after a 10-day exhaustive search, our two missing U.S. Navy SEALs have not been located and their status has been changed to deceased," Central Command said in a statement Sunday. "Out of respect for the families, no further information will be released at this time."
U.S. Central Command said the search has now been changed to a recovery effort. The names of the SEALs have not been released as family notifications continue.
CENTCOM added that teams from the US, Japan and Spain searched more than 21,000 square miles to try to locate the two missing SEALs.
According to officials, the Jan. 11 raid targeted an unflagged ship carrying illicit Iranian-made weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Officials have said 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.
"We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example. Our prayers are with the SEALs' families, friends, the U.S. Navy, and the entire Special Operations community during this time," said Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, US CENTCOM commander.
"We mourn the loss of our two brave Navy SEALs, and our hearts are with their families," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement Sunday. "The entire Department is united in sorrow today. We are grateful to all who worked tirelessly to try to find and rescue them."
The commandos had launched from the USS Lewis B. Puller, a mobile sea base, and they were backed by drones and helicopters. They loaded onto small special operations combat craft driven by naval special warfare crew to get to the boat.
In the raid, they seized an array of Iranian-made weaponry, including cruise and ballistic missile components such as propulsion and guidance devices and warheads, as well as air defense parts, Central Command said. It marked the latest seizure by the U.S. Navy and its allies of weapon shipments bound for the rebels, who have launched a series of attacks now threatening global trade in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden over Israel's war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The seized missile components included types likely used in those attacks.
The U.S. Navy ultimately sunk the ship carrying the weapons after deeming it unsafe, Central Command said. The ship's 14 crew were detained.
The US maintains a small military presence in Somalia that focuses on the threat of the al-Shabaab militant group, an extremist Islamist organization that has carried out attacks against the Somali government. The US recognizes al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization.
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."
CNN and The Associated Press contributed to this post.