Naval Special Warfare is in the process of taking delivery of the new Mark 11 SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. According to SOCOM’s maritime program executive officer, Captain Kate Dolloff, two of these Mark 11s have already arrived, allowing SEAL SDV operators to begin the familiarization process.
The Mark 11 will replace the older Mark 8 SDV. This new version is slightly larger, measuring 22 feet in length; it weighs 4,000 pounds more. SDV Team 1’s command acknowledged that the older Mark 8’s were becoming obsolete. The Mark 11 still requires all operators to have to wear wetsuits and scuba gear, but the payload capacity has increased and the navigational equipment has been greatly improved. Just like the Mark 8, the Mark 11 is transported and deployed via a Dry Deck Shelter, attached to a large submarine.
Teledyne Brown Engineering was awarded a $178 million contract back in October 2019, to build and deliver all 10 Mark 11’s. According to Teledyne Brown Engineering, this SDV is “specifically designed to insert and extract Special Operations Forces in high-threat areas.”
While at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, Dolloff claimed that “the big takeaway here is we’re fielding a much more capable platform to the fleet, and we’ve got it out there with the operators working on it now.”
It is no secret, that for the greater part of the last 20 years, our Special Operations Forces, including the Navy SEALs, have spent most of their time engaged in a ground conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. A major culture shift is taking place within NSW. The shift will be a move back to the maritime environment. Additionally, NSW recognizes the need to have the ability to contend with powerful countries, thus creating a requirement for more technologically advanced equipment and tactics.
On that point, SOCOM Commanding Officer, General Richard Clarke said during SOFIC 2020, “The National Defense Strategy is clear — We’ve got to build a more lethal force, we have to continue to foster our allies and grow more partners and we’ve got to reform, in the case of SOCOM, we’ve got to reform to meet those threats.”
Yet, he went on to add, “We still need guys that can kick down the door, that can shoot well, can jump out of airplanes, but we need coders.”
As NSW’s mission changes, the need for more advanced training continues to increase. A $54.3 million contract was awarded to build an underwater training facility, accompanied by an underwater training vehicle. The facility will be built at Pearl City Peninsula. It will support SDV 1, NSW Group 3, and NSW’s Advanced Training Command.
Looking ahead, a larger, 39-foot dry submarine is in the works; the plans have already been approved by SOCOM. The Dry Deck Shelters for the SDVs are being enlarged, allowing operators to have more room to work around the Mark 11 and to make room for dry minisubs, which is something NSW hopes to have in the future.