In addition to submarines and Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs), naval orientated Special Forces are increasingly employing purpose-built high speed surface craft for insertion, extraction and mission support. These high-powered surface planing boats are generically termed Special Operations Craft (SOC). The prototypical SOC is the US Navy’s Mk.V which is operated by the Special Boat Units (SBU) in support of SEAL operations.
These boats combine speed with utility, versatility and a modest amount of sneak. Although they are less stealthy than submarines or Swimmer Delivery Vehicles, they are growing in popularity. Part of the reason is that they provide organic shore-shore capability without having to depend on the Navy to loan their valuable submarines. And with Submarine forces stretched ever further, this trend is likely to continue.
SOCs are large powerboats 45-80ft (14-25m) boats capable of offshore operations. The current generation provide a covered cockpit, basic berthing and amenities (galley, toilet) and a large working deck with stern access for inflatable boats.