Despite the hurdles, isolation, and chaos that the coronavirus pandemic has caused in our nation and throughout the world, Naval Special Warfare successfully graduated Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC) Class 109 on Thursday, May 14 at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, CA.

The ceremony was conducted in a slightly different fashion, with all participants wearing masks and maintaining some sense of social distance. The graduation was limited to the SWCC graduates and the Instructor staff. Although the atmosphere was slightly different from a normal SWCC or SEAL graduation, the new operators were not cheated on any of the traditions, speeches, or congratulations that are standard to an NSW graduation.

Master Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator Robert Wickelhaus and Commander Keith Marinics, the Commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command, both addressed the newest generation of SWCCs. Marinics expressed how vital it is that these operators maintain the highest level of integrity, and stressed the paramount importance of executing all actions with absolute conviction.

The graduates all received a special compass in a wooden box, which is a longstanding SWCC graduation tradition. These compasses symbolize the history and proud reputation that the SWCC community has built over the years. Recognizing the Special Boat Team’s roots, stemming from the Brown Water Navy that engaged in fierce combat in Vietnam, these compasses are a reminder that major challenges lie ahead. These challenges will have to be navigated with confidence, a sense of duty, and absolute professionalism.

After graduation, these newbie SWCCs will report to their respective Special Boat Teams (SBT). A few will likely head to the Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM) course. There are three Special Boat Teams: SBT 12 (Coronado, CA), SBT 20 (Virginia Beach, VA), and SBT 22 (Stennis, MS).

Historically, the top performers in each SWCC class get first dibs on which team they would like to be assigned to. NSW tries to accommodate each operator’s requests, but at the end of the day, the needs of the Navy come first.

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Upon arrival at a Special Boat Team, these “new guys” will be assigned to a Boat Detachment within a Troop. They will most likely be assigned as a Navigator, Chief Engineer, or Comms guy.

Typically they are assigned to Troops that are entering into their pre-deployment workup. During these workups, SWCCs sharpen their skills. They participate in training blocks such as weapons expertise, navigation, medical, free fall, land warfare, and small unit tactics.

Upon completion of pre-deployment training, Special Boat Team Detachments deploy all over the world, in the pursuance of NSW’s operational responsibilities. These include, among others, Foreign Internal Defense, Counter-Terrorism, and Crisis Response.