The Naval Special Warfare Center has resumed training for almost all the Navy SEAL and Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmember (SWCC) classes that had been paused because of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
In mid-March, NSW Center decided to pause three of its classes of twelve classes that were in the early stages. The decision was made in order to protect students and staff from the Coronavirus. It was the right call given the crowded conditions of those phases. For example, the First Phase of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training starts with a few hundred people. The constant beating, mental stress, and, of course, the notorious Hell Week reduce the number of students significantly.
Captain Bart Randall, the Commodore of the NSW Center said on DVIDS that “we took a conservative approach to properly assess our student population and establish protocols in order to minimize risk to them during training.”
The NSW Center’s decision to resume training was made only after they instructors and staff could ensure that the Department of Defence’s (DoD) and the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) mitigation guidelines, for example, the wearing of a protective mask and gloves and the allowing of space between people, could be met.
During academic instruction, only a certain percentage of students and instructors will be allowed in the classrooms. Moreover, physical activities, such as runs and swims, will be broken down into groups. Students will also be restricted to the base until they have completed Hell Week and The Tour, which is the SWCC version of Hell week.
“The health and well-being of our students still remains our top priority,” added Commodore Randall. “Any student showing signs of illness will be pulled from training and evaluated by medical professionals before returning. NSW expects its operators to be flexible in all phases of mission planning and execution, and we practice what we teach at our schoolhouse. NSW Center will continue to safely train and deliver SEALS and SWCC to the Force capable of performing at the high standards demanded of NSW operators.”
BUD/S is comprised of three phases. First Phase, which includes Hell Week and a myriad other physical evolutions, is where most of the quitting happens. Second Phase is where students learn how to be combat divers. The Pool Week, part of this phase, is another major hurdle in the pipeline. Finally, Third Phase focuses on land warfare and the staples of the SEAL job (basic weapons, demolitions, land navigation, and small unit tactics). Once they have graduated BUD/S, students move on the SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) where they become proficient on the necessary skills of a SEAL operator. Upon graduation from the SQT, students receive their SEAL Trident and are assigned to a SEAL Team.
You can read a detailed breakdown of the SWCC training pipeline here.