Navy SWCC – The Navy’s Elite Boat Warriors

I have worked extensively with both MK5 and RHIB operators. As a Task Unit, we conducted non-compliant maritime interdiction operations (MIO) in the Northern Arabian Gulf and Foreign Internal Defense (FID) missions in the Philippines. Special Boat Team have amassed an impressive combat record since 9/11, cementing their own significant operational contributions into an already impressive and decorated community history. In my experience, they are always the first to show up and the last to leave. The bottom line: Boat Guys are the unsung heroes of the Naval Special Warfare Community.

– Travis Lively, U.S.N (SEAL)

“On Time, On Target, Never Quit”

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a SWCC Special Warfare Boat Operator?

  • Serve the United States in the Global War on Terrorism
  • Qualify for an elite force that is on time, on target, and never quits
  • Go into harm’s way worldwide as part of the Naval Special Warfare Team
  • Infiltrate and exfiltrate Navy SEALs on daring, clandestine missions
  • Drive high-performance state-of-the-art combatant craft at 50 knots
  • Operate day and night, in all sea states, weather, and temperatures
  • Navigate rivers, coastline. and open ocean on combat missions
  • Master high-technology engineering, navigation and communications
  • Parachute (air drop) 11-meter boats from transport aircraft at 3,500 feet
  • Excel in 22 weeks of physically and mentally demanding training:
    • Travel 3,200 nautical miles underway (900 at night)
    • Shoot 170,000 rounds of ammunition
    • Swim 100 miles
    • Run 400 miles
    • Perform 20,000 pushups
  • Operate vessel-mounted 50-caliber machine guns from high-speed boats
  • Enter a brotherhood where teamwork is mission-critical to success
  • Always operate in accordance with the values of the SWCC Creed
  • Wear the SWCC Insignia with Honor, Courage, and Commitment

Take The SWCC Challenge

The Navy seeks fit, smart, and hard working young men from all backgrounds to join its Naval Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmember (SWCC) units. If you’re ready for adventure, responsibility and challenge, contact your local Navy recruiter. Be sure to specify that you are interested in the SWCC Challenge program. The Navy recruiter will guide you through the enlistment process, qualification for the program, and your entrance into the Navy. For more information on a career in Naval Special Warfare, call 1-888-USN-SEAL.

The SWCC Challenge Program was created for civilian recruits who have never served in the Navy. It includes Navy basic training, rigorous physical training, and 22 weeks of specialized SWCC instruction. Successful completion of this unique program guarantees the opportunity to enter the Naval Special Warfare Special Boat (SB) career specialty for individuals desiring a 4 year enlistment.
SWCC Challenge Requirements

Following is a list of requirements to enter the program:

  1. U.S. Citizen
  2. Age: 18-30 years old or less. (17 with parental permission). Age waiver is possible on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Gender: Men only (SWCC is classified as ground combat duty). Women are encouraged to investigate the Diver and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) fields.
  4. High school graduate (or meet High Performance Predictor Profile (HP3) Criteria). Be proficient in reading, speaking, writing and understanding the English language.
  5. Not be under civil restraint, a substance abuser, nor have a pattern of minor convictions or any non-minor, misdemeanor, or felony conviction (waivers are granted dependent on number and severity). Cannot enlist with pending lawsuit against you, unless receive prior approval.
  6. Vision: Uncorrected vision can be no worse than 20/200 in each eye. Both eyes must be correctable to 20/20, with no color blindness. SWCC candidates may qualify for PRK Refractive Surgery to correct their vision. You can read more about the PRK policy on the BUMED PRK Refractive Surgery web site
  7. Minimum ASVAB Score: VE + AR = 104, MC=50.
    8. Swimming: Must be qualified as a Second Class Swimmer or better.
  8. Waivers: For more information on Eyesight, Age, or ASVAB Test waivers, go to There are no waivers for U.S. citizenship, color-vision, or gender requirements.
  9. Pass the SWCC Physical Screening Test (PST) Minimum Requirements.

SWCC Physical Screening Test Requirements

SWCC PST Minimum Standards:

SWIM 500 YDS. side stroke or breast stroke 13:00 min
Rest 10 minutes
PUSH-UPS within 2 minutes 42
Rest 2 minutes
SIT-UPS within 2 minutes 50
Rest 2 minutes
PULL-UPS no time limit 6
Rest 10 minutes
1.5 MILE RUN 12:30 min/sec

SWCC – A New NSW Career Path

While littoral warfare goes back 900 years and SWWC trace their origins to the “Brown Water” navy of the Vietnam War, special boat operators did not have their own distinct career path until recently. On October 1, 2006, the Navy created the Enlisted Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) rating. This decisive action acknowledged the imperative for NSW SWCC to have a dedicated career path reflecting their unique and important role in our nation’s littoral warfare, particularly in the Global War on Terrorism.

SWCC are our nation’s premier force for operating and maintaining high-performance, state-of-the art craft on NSW combat missions in littoral (shallow-water) environments. These elite fast-boat operators are part of Naval Special Warfare Command, which is comprised of SEAL Teams, SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Teams and Special Boat Teams. Together, they constitute the Maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Command, which exercises joint command of Navy, Army, and Air Force Special Operations Forces. All Special Warfare Boat Operators are Enlisted personnel or Warrant Officers.


The exclusive mission of SWCC operators is to expertly drive and provide small-caliber gunfire support on specialized high-tech, high-speed, and low-profile Surface Combatant Craft to secretly infiltrate and exfiltrate Navy SEALs on Special Operations missions worldwide. These missions include Direct Action on land, sea, coastline or rivers (such as strikes, captures, and ship take downs by Visit, Board, Search and Seizure), Special Reconnaissance, Coastal Patrol and Interdiction of suspect ships and surface craft, Counterterrorism operations, Riverine Warfare, Deception Operations, Search and Rescue Operations, and Foreign Internal Defense missions (training foreign forces in the tactics, techniques and procedures of maritime and riverine patrols). SWCC may also support military and civilian law enforcement agencies.


The SWCC designation is a relatively new Naval Special Warfare career path that is independent of the regular line Navy. Today’s Special Boat Teams have their origins in the PT boats of WWII, and the “Brown Water” naval force that was created in 1965 at the onset of the Vietnam War. In its seven-year involvement in the Vietnam War, “the boat side” of Naval Special Warfare grew into three specialized Navy task forces totaling over 700 craft and 38,000 men. These were:

  • Task Force 115 (Coastal Surveillance)
  • Task Force 116 (River Patrol)
  • Task Force 117 (River Assault)

Training for the prospective crew of Task Force 115 was conducted at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, CA, while Task Forces 116 and 117 trained at Mare Island, CA. In the 11-week River Assault Craft training program, sailors were exposed to the special features of joint operations, counter-insurgency, SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape), and all aspects of riverine warfare.

SEAL Support

In 1963, Boat Support Unit ONE (BSU-1) was created and commissioned as a component of the Naval Operations Support Group commanded by Captain Phil H. Bucklew, an NSW pioneer after whom today’s Naval Special Warfare Training Center is named. BSU-1’s unique purpose was to modify, test, evaluate and operate combatant craft in support of Navy SEALs in Vietnam. The Navy SEAL Teams had been created just a year before, in 1962, from the existing Underwater Demolition Teams, to develop a specialized Navy capability in guerilla warfare and clandestine maritime operations.

The members of BSU-1 deployed to Vietnam as part of the Mobile Support Teams tasked with the operation and maintenance of the Light SEAL Support Craft (LSSC) and Medium SEAL Support Craft (MSSC). Although other units (primarily Patrol Boat Riverine and the dedicated Armored Troop Carrier “Mighty Moe”) supported SEALs during the Vietnam War, BSUs alone were specifically created to support Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) and SEAL Teams.

The unique nature of riverine operations in Vietnam created an urgent need for a centralized and systematic training program to prepare prospective boat crews of Task Forces 115, 116, 117, and BSU-1 for the demands of warfare along coastal and inland waterways. On January 30, 1967 the Naval Inshore Operations Training Center was commissioned in Mare Island, California, and tasked with providing this highly specialized training.


After the Vietnam War, the three task forces were reorganized into stateside Riverine/Coastal Divisions and Squadrons in order to retain the expertise of these highly-experienced “Brown Water” boat operators in support of SEAL missions. They were subsequently assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Groups and re-designated Special Boat Squadrons and Special Boat Units.

In a major reorganization of NSW in 1983, UDT unit designations were replaced by SEAL Teams, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams were created, and the last Special Boat Unit was redesignated as a Special Boat Team (SBT). This change reflected the ever-increasing importance of small-boat support to Navy SEAL operations in the worldwide littoral environment. Today, fully half of the world’s infrastructure and population is located within one mile of an ocean or river.

Today’s Special Boat Teams

Naval Special Warfare has three Special Boat Teams to which SWCC personnel are assigned: Special Boat Teams TWELVE (SBT-12), TWENTY (SBT-20), and TWENTY-TWO (SBT-22). Each is unique in its location, mission, primary designated Operational Area, and numbers and type of craft. They are all under the overall command of Naval Special Warfare Group FOUR, which is headquartered in Little Creek, VA.

Special Boat Team TWELVE

SBT-12 is based in Coronado and led by an O-5 Navy SEAL Commander. It has Enlisted SWCC personnel who operate and maintain (81-foot) Mark V Special Operations Craft (SOC-R) and (11-meter) Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats. These craft normally operate in detachments of two boats with crews. SBT-12 supports NSW maritime and coastal Special Operations missions in the Pacific and Middle East. The command deploys detachments aboard amphibious ships, to Naval Special Warfare Unit ONE (NSWU-1) in Guam, Naval Special Warfare Unit THREE (NSWU-3) in Bahrain.

Special Boat Team TWENTY

SBT-20 is based in Little Creek, Virginia and led by an O-5 Navy SEAL Commander. It has Enlisted SWCC personnel who operate and maintain (81-foot) Mark V Special Operations Craft and (11-meter) Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats. These boats normally operate in detachments of two boats with crews. SBT-20 supports NSW maritime and coastal operations in Europe, the Mediterranean, and South America. It deploys detachments aboard amphibious ships and to Naval Special Warfare Unit TWO (NSWU-2) in Stuttgart, Germany, and Naval Special Warfare Unit TEN (NSWU-10) in Rota, Spain.

Special Boat Team TWENTY-TWO

SBT-22 is based at John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and led by an O-5 SEAL Commander. It has Enlisted SWCC personnel who operate and maintain (33-foot) Special Operations Craft Riverine (SOC-R). These craft normally operate in detachments of two boats with crews. SBT-22 supports NSW riverine operations worldwide.

Number of SWCC Forces

Naval Special Warfare has a small, powerful, and elite force of 600 active duty and 125 reserve SWCC operators, all of whom are enlisted personnel. These Special Warfare Boat (SB) operators support the worldwide operations of 2,450 active duty and 325 reserve SEALs. The total NSW force of 5,400 active duty and support personnel and 1,200 reserves comprises only 1% of all Navy personnel.

Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) Rating

In May 2006 the U.S. Navy authorized the establishment of the Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) rating to allow Enlisted Sailors to focus on rating-specific technology, skill sets, and training systems demanded of NSW SWCC operators in the Global War on Terrorism. The rating is also intended to broaden the professional development, career opportunities, and quality of service for these Sailors. This new rating was implemented in October 2006.

SWCC Warfare Designator

As of October 1, 2006, the enlisted SWCC Warfare Designation (NSW Rating) became “Special Warfare Boat Operator” (SB), representing its own specialized Navy career path. SWCC (and SEALs) no longer use and wear regular Navy ratings – such as boatswain’s mate, gunner’s mate, hospital corpsman or operations specialist – that they earned before entering the Naval Special Operations community.

The need for a SWCC designator became clear after the SWCC community became close-looped in 1996, allowing SWCCs to stay in and specialize in the Naval Special Warfare boat community for their entire careers, rather than returning to the fleet after one tour. The SWCC designator enables qualified Combatant-craft Crewmen to compete on an even level with other warfare specialists – such as the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist — for promotions and awards.

SWCC Warfare Insignia

The SWCC Insignia is not just a qualification, (as was the previous small craft pin), but an actual warfare designator, on par with other warfare specialties such as Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist. It consists of the Enlisted Cutlass and Flintlock Pistol set behind the Mark V Special Operations Craft (MK-V SOC) and waves, and symbolizes the seaborne combat readiness of SWCC personnel. Requirements for wearing the pin include:

  • Graduating from a 2-week Indoctrination and 8-week Basic Crewman Training course at the Naval Special Warfare Training Center in Coronado, CA;
  • Completing extensive Personal Qualification Standards (PQS)
  • Successfully passing written and oral examinations
  • Being recommended by commanding officer for the 5350, 5351, or 5352 Navy Enlisted Classification Code (NEC)

Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) Badge

The Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) Badge was first conceived as the SWCC Badge in 1996 — the design was approved for wear in 2001. The SB rating badge is all black, and consists of an Anchor crossed diagonally by a Flintlock Pistol and Cutlass.

SWCC Navy Enlisted Classification Code (NEC)

There are three SWCC NECs:

  • NEC 5350 (Basic SWCC)
  • NEC 5351 (Reserve SWCC)
  • NEC 5352 (Advanced SWCC)

Military Pay Charts

Most SWCC operators are Navy Enlisted personnel and range in rank from E-4 to E-9. The first SWCC Chief Warrant Officer was commissioned in October 2003.

SWCC Special Pays

SWCC Operators (5352) are eligible for the following special pays and bonuses:

  • Current Enlistment Bonus: SWCC $25,000 (paid upon final qualification)
  • Special Duty Assignment Pay $225 (per month)
  • Selective Reenlistment Bonuses maximum $45,000
  • Parachute Pay — $150 – $225 per month (when qualified)
  • Language Pay – per month (when qualified). Amount depends on the type of foreign language and level of proficiency.

SWCC Training

SWCC training is 22 weeks long. This highly-demanding physical and mental training consists of 2 weeks of Indoctrination (administrative and physical preparation), followed by 8 weeks of Basic Crewman Training (BCT), and 12 weeks of advanced Crewman Qualification Training (CQT).

By the end of training, students will have:

  • Traveled 3200 nautical miles underway (900 at night)
  • Shot 170,000 rounds of ammunition
  • Swum 100 miles
  • Run 400 miles
  • Done 20,000 pushups

Basic Crewman Training (8 weeks)

Initial SWCC training, known as Basic Crewman Training (BCT) is conducted at the Naval Special Warfare Training Center in Coronado, CA. Sailors receive their SB Rating and NEC 5350 upon successful graduation. This intensive course of instruction includes training and basic certification in a wide range of skills, as well as a demanding final exercise. Boat instruction uses primarily the Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) and ACB. Training is broken down into the following phases:

  • First Phase – Physical Fitness/Water Safety Skills. The 1st phase of training consists of running, swimming, and calisthenics, all of which become increasingly difficult as the course progresses.
  • Second Phase — Basic Crewmember Skills. The 2nd phase of training teaches combatant craft principles of engineering, basic seamanship, maritime and land navigation, and communications. Emphasis is placed on teamwork, with the goal of teamwork, with the goal of training the students to become basic combat crewmembers.
  • Third Phase – Basic SWCC Warfare Skills. The 3rd phase of training concentrates on teaching basic tactics, patrolling, and individual and combat craft weapons.
  • Field Training Exercise – BCT culminates in a demanding, week-long exercise in a practical environment, where students apply all the skills acquired throughout training.

Crewman Qualification Training (12 weeks)

Advanced training, known as Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) further trains, develops, and qualifies SWCC candidates in basic weapons, seamanship, first aid, and small unit tactics. Daily physical training increases steadily in intensity and difficulty to bring the candidate’s fitness up to real-life requirements of the operational Special Boat Teams. CQT concentrates on teaching Maritime Navigation, communications, waterborne patrolling techniques, marksmanship and engineering. Boat training uses primarily the 11-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) which is a jet boat.

Candidates also receive an introduction to the NSW Mission Planning Cycle. They then conduct a full-evolution training exercise mission, from the initial tasking to launch point, combat objective, and final debriefing. In the course of mission planning, briefing and execution, students apply all the skills, tactics and techniques they have acquired during training. The combination of these skills sets SWCC apart as an elite Special Warfare boat capability unmatched by any other SOF. Graduates of CQT are awarded NEC 5352 and receive the SWCC Warfare Insignia.

Additional Training

All SWCC personnel receive Survival, Escape, Resistance and Evasion (SERE) training prior to deployment. A select few who are in Maritime Craft Aerial Deployment System (MCADS) billets also receive parachute training. This is a special capability to deploy (air-drop) an 11-meter Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) rigged with four large parachutes, from a C-130 or C-17 transport aircraft at 3,500 feet.


After graduating Crewman Qualification Training, most SWCC go straight to an NSW Special Boat Team. Once assigned, they operate and maintain craft and vessel-mounted small caliber weapons in direct support of Navy SEAL and other SOF missions. They have the opportunity and expectation to immediately exercise a high degree of personal responsibility, accountability and attention to detail. For example, a First Class Petty Officer (E-6) can be Officer-In-Charge of his own detachment, issued cryptographic communications material and automatic weapons. SWCC operators who excel in their field have the personal satisfaction of advancing to positions of ever-greater responsibility and leadership throughout their careers.

Points of Contact

SWCC Motivator West Coast: (619) 437-2049
SWCC Detailer: (901) 874-3622
SWCC Info: 1-888-USN-SEAL

Information Resources
[email protected]