The U.S. Navy has just released a new recruiting and capabilities video about one of its – and indeed the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community’s – less known career fields. Often mistakenly identified as Navy SEALs, the Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen (SWCC) are Naval Special Warfare Command’s (NSWC) go-to choice for maritime mobility.
To become a SWCC operator, a candidate must successfully complete the Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman (SWCC) Basic Crewman Selection and Qualification training. The combined SWCC pipeline has an attrition rate of 65 percent, placing it slightly above average in terms of attrition levels. There are less than 1000 SWCC operators, and the career field is for enlisted only. Officers commanding SWCC units are Navy SEALs.
As the caption of the video states “Stealth saves lives. As a Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, you’ll operate in a team as one well-oiled machine quietly inserting and extracting SEAL and spec ops teams. From the coastal regions of the Middle East to rivers deep in the heart of South America, you operate in any and every environment. Combat-ready at a second’s notice, you’ll provide support for special reconnaissance missions and even carry out your own. Whether you’re navigating through a jungle river or wielding an M240 machine gun, SWCC teams are always-on.”
SWCC is organized in Special Boat Teams (SBTs). There are three SBTs: Special Boat Team 12 (SBT-12) based in Coronado, California; Special Boat Team 20 (SBT-20) based in Little Creek, Virginia; and Special Boat Team 22 (SBT-22), based in Stennis, Mississippi. SBT-12 and SBT-20 specialize in open-water tasks (for instance, infiltrating a SEAL platoon in a hostile shore or ambushing an enemy vessel in the ocean). SBT-22 specializes in riverine operations – these are the guys you mostly see on the Act of Valor movie. SEAL Team 6, also known as Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), has a dedicated SWCC element (Grey Squadron) to ensure rapid reaction times in case of a maritime counterterrorism scenario.
Each SBT is comprised of a number of support and command elements (for example, headquarters, communications, medical, intelligence, ordnance, etc.). The operational elements, however, are known as Special Boat Detachments (SPECBOATDETs). Usually, each SPECBOATDET is comprised of two crafts, which could range from the Special Operations Craft-Riverine (SOC-R) to the Naval Special Warfare Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (NSW RHIB), depending on the mission. Onboard each vessel, there are usually three to four SWCC operators: Navigator, helmsman, and boat commander are the staples. Specific missions, however, often require additional operators, particularly in the riverine environment.