Naval Special Warfare might be close to welcoming its first-ever female operators.

Three female sailors are currently at various stages of the Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) selection pipeline. SWCC is the primary maritime mobility component for U.S. Special Operations Command.

The three SWCC candidates aren’t the only ones who have tried out for a spot at the Naval Special Warfare. Last fall, a female officer attended and successfully completed the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection (SOAS) program, before opting for a career in the Navy’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams.

SWCC sources reached out to SOFREP about the possibility of female operators in the ranks. The consensus was that since the standards weren’t dropped to accommodate the female candidates, then there is no issue. “The pipeline is tough – and I daresay as tough as BUD/S [referring to the SEAL’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training],” said one SWCC operator. “Gone are the days when SWCC was considered the bastard child of NSW. If women are capable of finishing the pipeline, then my hat’s off to them.”

The SWCC pipeline is broken in five phases, though only the last three comprise the official pipeline. Most SWCC candidates must go through all five. A considerable portion of the attrition happens in the initial courses.

  • BUD/S Preparation (attended by both SWCC and SEAL candidates)
  • BUD/S Orientation (attended by both SWCC and SEAL candidates)
  • Basic Crewman Selection (BCS)
  • Basic Crewman Training (BCT)
  • Crewman Qualification Training (CQT)

The complete SWCC pipeline has an attrition rate of approximately 65 percent.

“Naval Special Warfare focuses on standards, not gender, when assessing for any training pipeline,” said Captain Tamara Lawrence, the Naval Special Warfare Command spokesperson, in a statement to Military.com. “Additionally, Naval Special Warfare Center remains committed to providing a safe, fair and equally dignified training environment that will best prepare all SEAL and SWCC candidates for the extreme demands put upon them as members of a SEAL or Special Boat Team.”

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The SWCC community is comprised of less than 1000 operators. An interesting fact about the tight-knit community is that it only has enlisted operators; the senior leadership positions are held by SEAL officers.

There are three SWCC teams, or Special Boat Team (SBTs):

  • Special Boat Team 12 (SBT-12), stationed in Coronado, California
  • Special Boat Team 20 (SBT-20), stationed in Little Creek, Virginia
  • Special Boat Team 22 (SBT-22), stationed in Stennis, Mississippi

SBT-12 and SBT-20 focus on blue water operations (for instance, ambushing an Iranian small vessel illegally carrying arms to Yemen or infiltrating a SEAL platoon in the North Korean coast). SBT-22, on the other hand, specializes in brown water operations (for example, the extraction a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) from a South American river or inserting a Ranger platoon by river in Mosul).

There is an additional, more secretive SWCC unit: Grey Squadron is a SWCC detachment attached to SEAL Team 6, also known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). Grey Squadron operators master, among other skillsets, the dark arts of insertion and extraction in maritime counterterrorism (MCT) scenarios.