Special Boat Teams: The 'Wave' of Future
By Journalist 1st Class (SW/AW) Sonya
Ansarov, Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs
CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) High speed, sharp
turns, the ability to stop on a dime, stealth, and enough firepower to make the
enemy think twice about attacking, make Mark-Five (MK-V) boats formidable
weapons in the global war on terrorism. But it's the Special Warfare
Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC -pronounced "swick") that make the MK-Vs, and
other special operations surface craft, more than just boats.
SWCCs, also referred to as the Boat Guys, are a
major component of Naval Special Warfare. They are highly-trained individuals
who operate and maintain the state-of-the art, high-performance craft used in
maritime special operations missions, such as overseas coastal patrol and
surveillance, and Maritime and Leadership Interdiction Operations (boarding and
searching vessels suspected of smuggling contraband or terrorists).
SWCCs of Special Boat Team (SBT) 12 from San Diego proved
their worth and special skills during Operation Enduring Freedom where they
boarded and searched 21 vessels, captured 18 highly-ranked terrorists trying to
escape the Middle East via the Arabian Sea, and stopped the smuggling of 3,500
metric tons of oil.
Most recently, SBT-12 showed what they were made of during
two major missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The first mission was the
securing of the two main oil distribution platforms of the Al Faw peninsula and
the offshore gas and oil terminals in Iraq.
We were able to get SEALs and other Special Operations
Forces to the platforms, and then provide cover for them, said
Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class (SWCC/DV) Herbert Clay, MK-V assistant boat
captain. It was vital that the oil platforms and the off-shore terminals
were shut down at exactly the same time to prevent the pipes from bursting, and
causing the mission to be all for nothing. This was an important mission during
the war, because it prevented Saddam Hussein from sabotaging the platforms and
causing a major environmental disaster similar to what he did in the first Gulf
The second mission involved SWCCs clearing and securing the
Khor Al Abdullah and Khor Az Zubayar waterways, which enabled the first
delivery of humanitarian aid to the port city of Umm Qasr.
This was the first time in history a MK-V operated in
a river, said Operation Specialist 2nd Class (SWCC) Brian Dillon, MK-V
navigator. We were the first ones up the river, and it was difficult to
navigate because I didnt have any navigational charts for the river. It
had never been charted before. There were numerous boat wreckages floating in
the river, plus we had to deal with bad weather, from thick fog to sand and
rainstorms, and extreme tidal changes. The craziest thing was we were about
half way up the river when mines were discovered behind us the same path
we had just crossed and in front of us. We stopped where we were and
waited for the minesweeper ships to clear the mines.
Once the mines were cleared, SWCCs continued their mission
of securing the river, ensuring enemy forces werent hiding among the boat
wreckage and preventing vessels from trying to pass by to get down river.
We were clearing about 22 vessels a night, said
Dillon. We would put special operation forces on board to scout for enemy
targets trying to escape, oil being smuggled, and to make sure the vessel
wouldnt be a threat to our forces or anyone else.
Being in a hostile environment was something new for some of
This was my first time to go to war, said Hull
Maintenance Technician 2nd Class (SWCC) Michael Nelson, MK-V weapons specialist
and gunner. We had to call on a lot of our skills that we hadnt yet
used when it came to operating in the river and dealing with the enemy.
Sometimes the rough waters, cold winds and the darkness would start to get to
me, but then my training would kick in and everything was fine. Being out there
also brought us closer together as a group, which was amazing because we are
already a close-knit team just by virtue of being a SWCC.
In addition to SBT-12s two main missions for Operation
Iraqi Freendom, SWCCs helped check and clear 110 suspicious vessels of having
contraband or being suspected terrorists, and captured 31 enemy prisoners of
war during their five-month deployment.
For related news, visit the Naval Special Warfare Navy
NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/nsw.