The U.S. Navy officially transferred four Mark V Special Operations Craft (MK V SOC) to the Hellenic Navy last week.

The four boats, which have been assigned to the Hellenic Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams/Navy SEALs (ΜΥΚ), will have to undergo maintenance and refitting before they can requalify as operational.

The MK V SOC packs two MTU 12V396 diesel engines and two Kamewa 50-511 waterjets. The combined power of the diesel engines and waterjets allows the MK V SOC to reach speeds close to 60 miles/hour (around 50 knots); the craft has an operational range of close to 600 miles.

As far as weaponry goes, the MK V SOC packs a heavy load indeed. It can carry an assortment of weapons, including the M2 .50 caliber machine gun, M240 machine gun, M134 minigun, and MK19 40mm grenade launcher. In addition, it can launch remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).

U.S. Navy SEALs fast-rope on top of a moving MK V SOC during training (U.S. Navy).

The MK V SOC first entered service with the Naval Special Warfare Command back in the 1990s. Given to the Special Boat Teams and operated by the Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC), the MK V SOC fleet proved its mettle time and again. Indeed, SWCC operators thought very highly of them.

Capable of carrying a crew of five and a platoon of SEALs (about 16 operators) and their equipment, the MK V SOC offers a flexible and reliable transportation and infiltration platform. One of the bigger assets of the vessel is its capability to act as a mothership for Over-the-Beach (OTB), Special Reconnaissance (SR), or Direct Action (DA) operations. In addition to the aforementioned cargo, the MK V SOC can carry up to four inflatable Zodiac rubber boats. Its small size, agile nature, and self-defense capabilities, compared to conventional vessels, make it an ideal platform from where SEALs or other SOF units with maritime capabilities, for example, Marine Raiders, Force Recon platoons, or Special Forces dive teams, can launch operations. And they are also brilliant in transporting larger SOF elements between islands, for instance, the Philippines or the Aegean Sea.

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The four craft during the induction ceremony (Image courtesy of e-amyna).

Hellenic Special Operations units fall under two tiers — mind you, these categories are unofficial and have to do more with the unit’s mission and budget allotment.

The below units fall under the first tier. They are almost exclusively manned by full-time personnel:

  • The Hellenic Army’s Z Amphibious Raiding Squadron (Z’MAK), an amphibious commando unit that specializes in recapturing small islands, among other SOF tasks.
  • The Special Parachute Section (ΕΤΑ), the Army’s “Tier 1” unit that specializes in special reconnaissance (SR) and direct action (DA) missions.
  • The Hellenic Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams/Navy SEALs (ΜΥΚ).
  • The Hellenic Air Force’s 31st Special Operations Squadron (ΜΕΕΔ).

The second tier is comprised of the following units, which are manned by a combination of national servicemen and professional personnel.

  • The 32nd Marine Brigade, which contains three infantry battalions (505th, 521st, and 575th), one cavalry squadron (32nd), and one artillery battalion (32nd).
  • The 1st Airborne/Commando Brigade, which will contain the Mountain Raider Squadrons (Β; Δ; Ε; and 35, which is deployed in Cyprus), the Maritime Raider Squadrons (Α, Γ, Η, Θ, and I), and the Paratrooper Squadrons (1st and 2nd).