• True Stories

12 Declassified Navy SEAL Missions From Military History That Were Top Secret

Created in 1962, the Navy SEALs are one of the most prominent go-to special forces organizations in the United States military. They’ve seen action in almost every major conflict the US has been involved in since their inception, and their covert actions and reconnaissance skills have been invaluable in saving American lives across many engagements over the years.

Of course, the most famous and well-respected unit in the SEALs is SEAL Team Six. Their successor unit, DEVGRU, has been responsible for some of the most courageous and dangerous covert operations attempted by the United States. They’ve participated in countless rescues, captures, and even the assassination of Osama bin Laden - and those aren't the only prominent things Navy SEALs have done. Check out the list below for more declassified Navy SEAL missions from history.

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  • Octave Fusion Was A Textbook Rescue Mission

    Photo: Vladimir Lysenko / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    When Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted were kidnapped by Somali bandits in 2012, DEVGRU was called in to rescue them. Originally, the American woman and Danish man were in Somalia on an aid mission to remove landmines, but they were taken hostage. The rescue operation had been in planning for weeks, but when Buchanan’s health started to decline, they accelerated their plans.

    DEVGRU parachuted in at night two miles away from the hostile encampment and proceeded the rest of the way on foot. While DEVGRU tried to capture the kidnappers, the engagement ended with all the hostiles dead. The hostages were extracted with no injuries. 

  • SEALs Stopped The Mukatayin Dam From Exploding

    Photo: United States Navy SEALs / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    During the invasion of Iraq, Coalition forces became worried that the retreating Iraqi forces would destroy a hydroelectric dam to slow the advance of US troops. The worst-case scenario was that the dam would be taken out, which would not only cut off the surrounding area from badly needed power but also cause massive flooding that would lead to countless deaths.

    So, a joint mission between the SEALs and GROM (Polish Special Forces) was greenlit to take the dam. After a helicopter insertion, the strike force secured the dam with no casualties. 

  • The 2012 Rescue Of British Aid Workers Showed Great Teamwork

    When four aid workers were kidnapped in Afghanistan, a joint SAS (British Special Forces) and DEVGRU task force initiated an operation to recover them. Intelligence sources used satellites to watch the kidnappers' compound while SAS and DEVGRU forces set up a forward-operating base within striking distance. After negotiations with the kidnappers deteriorated, a two-pronged assault was greenlit.

    The SAS and DEVGRU teams would each rescue two targets. The operation took place right after sunset, and the soldiers used silenced weapons to take out the kidnappers. All four hostages were rescued successfully. 

  • The Rescue Of Dr. Dilip Joseph Resulted In The Capture Of Two Taliban Leaders

    The Taliban kidnapped an American doctor and two Afghan men in 2012 while they were traveling to a rural clinic in Afghanistan. They were taken into the mountains, where the kidnappers demanded ransom. The Afghan men were released but the kidnappers kept Dr. Joseph. Convinced the doctor was in danger, DEVGRU was sent in to rescue him.

    The operation ended with six deaths, including a member of the SEAL team, Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque. Two Taliban leaders were also arrested. Dr. Dilip Joseph was successfully rescued.