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.
First, yes, they have SEALs on the boats. When your payload is Navy SEALs, that’s a pretty big plus in the lethality department.
But SWCCs don’t just drop off and pick up SEALs. They also conduct their own missions.
Combatant-craft crews can be sent against enemy shipping and other water traffic to shut down commerce or supply operations.
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.
The SWCCs do all of this from some of the world’s most advanced and dangerous small crafts.
Their boats are typically well-armed, and SWCCs train extensively on small craft tactics and strategies.
The Navy prefers to deploy SWCC craft in groups so boats can provide fire support to one another.
But even a single boat brings a lot of firepower.
Navy SWCCs can launch and recover their vehicles in the well decks of larger ships.
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.
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.
The Navy gets sailors ready for this grueling job by demanding constant and rigorous physical training.
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.
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.
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.
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.