What Makes Special Warfare Crews So Lethal?

Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, the “Boat Guys” in all those Navy SEALs photos, are a small and elite bunch of warriors who don’t get nearly enough credit for their contribution to American security.

Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, the “Boat Guys” in all those Navy SEALs photos, are a small and elite bunch of warriors who don’t get nearly enough credit for their contribution to American security.

Here’s what makes the “SEALs Taxi Service” so lethal.

Live-Fire Immediate Action Drills

Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen from Special Boat Team 22 conduct live-fire immediate action drills at the riverine training range at Ft. Knox. (Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

First, yes, they have SEALs on the boats. When your payload is Navy SEALs, that’s a pretty big plus in the lethality department.

Naval Special Warfare Celebrates 41st Annual UDT-SEAL East Coast Reunion

U.S. Navy SEALs splash into the water from a combat rubber raiding craft attached to an 11-meter rigid hull infalatble boat, during a capabilities exercise, at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek – Fort Story. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Gary L. Johnson III.)

But SWCCs don’t just drop off and pick up SEALs. They also conduct their own missions.

navy-swcc-photo-060

(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Combatant-craft crews can be sent against enemy shipping and other water traffic to shut down commerce or supply operations.

Live-Fire Immediate Action Drills

(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

The SWCC crews keep an eye out for enemy movements or other activity in their domain. If they identify a threat, they can prosecute it themselves or report it up to the deepwater guys for help.

Live-Fire Immediate Action Drills

(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

The SWCCs do all of this from some of the world’s most advanced and dangerous small crafts.

100717-N-8949D-327

(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Daniels)

Their boats are typically well-armed, and SWCCs train extensively on small craft tactics and strategies.

SWCC-YouTube-GIF-2

(GIF: YouTube/America’s Navy)

The Navy prefers to deploy SWCC craft in groups so boats can provide fire support to one another.

Special operations craft-riverine at John C. Stennis Space Center

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Laird/Released)

But even a single boat brings a lot of firepower.

navy-swcc-photo-005

(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black)

Navy SWCCs can launch and recover their vehicles in the well decks of larger ships.

ARG/MEUEX SWCC maneuvering

(Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Darren M. Moore)

And some of the boats can even be airdropped into the water for operations. All SWCC operators are static-line parachute qualified so they can jump with their boats.

navy-swcc-photo-037

(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Of course, jumping after a boat means the operators will land in the water. So they conduct open water swims, sometimes into near-freezing water, to prepare.

Open Ocean Swim Training

Special Warfare Combatant-craft crewmen finish an open ocean swim, with water and air temperatures hovering below 40 degrees. (Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Tim Miller)

The Navy gets sailors ready for this grueling job by demanding constant and rigorous physical training.

Training in San Diego

A Crewman Qualification Training candidate puts on his flippers before swimming in Coronado Bay during a Monster Mash training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Navy SWCC and SEAL candidates awaiting training are assigned to the Fleet Transition Program to ensure they remain physically capable of becoming elite maritime warriors.

Fleet Transition Program

(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abe McNatt)

The SWCC training pipeline consists four phases, the two-month Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School, Naval Special Warfare Orientation, Basic Crewman Training, and Crewman Qualification Training.

Monster Mash exercise

Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) candidates hustle to shore during a Monster Mash training exercise. (Photo: U.S Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Scorza).

And the Navy isn’t afraid to recruit potential candidates while they’re still young. Scout teams go into the community to seek out talented individuals who might be interested in a special operations career.

ARG/MEUEX SWCC maneuvering

Chief Petty Officer Joseph Schmidt, assigned to the Navy SEAL and SWCC Scout Team, speaks to San Diego Junior Lifeguard members before a physical training evolution. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi)

The Navy has over 700 sailors trained and assigned as SWCCs at a time. This tiny force conducts dangerous and essential missions all over the world.

SBT 22 Demonstration

(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Richard Miller)


Warrior Top Stories