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Last Updated: 28 March, 2016

This article is structured as follows:

  • Part 01: Introduction
  • Part 02: Entry Standards and Applications
  • Part 03: Outline of the US Navy SWCC Selection and Training Process
  • Part 04: Miscellaneous


1.0     Introduction

Logo, NAVSPECWARCOM, US Naval Special Warfare Command, US, Special Forces, US NavyThis article provides an overview of the recruitment, selection and training process for the United States (US) Naval Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen.

US Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC, pronounced swick), officially known as Special Warfare Boat Operators (SB), are Tier 2 forces (i.e. undertake support action) and are trained at the US Navy’s Special Warfare Centre (NSWCEN).

These Naval Commandos constitute an important element of the US Naval Special Warfare Command (NSW or NAVSPECWARCOM) Special Operations Forces (SOF) community, which is the naval component of the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

Each year approximately 240 candidates (mainly US Navy Sailors) are given the opportunity to attend US Navy SWCC training. Although numbers vary, approximately 120 will succeed and join the approximately 755 active duty and 50 Reserve US Navy SWCCs.

The role of a US Navy SWCC is sea-duty intensive, with approximately 70% of their time spent in operational roles and 30% in shore/instructional/staff-related roles.

Historically, SWCC operators have worked mostly in coastal and river areas, but their missions at times may include non-maritime environments.

From boot camp to first deployment, a US Navy SWCC will undertake approximately one year of training.

The US Navy SWCC training process prepares candidates for the missions they may undertake as a qualified SWCC. SWCCs support and perform maritime special operations in open ocean, littoral, and riverine environments. SWCCs are experts in:

  • Maritime special operations tactics;
  • Small unit leadership;
  • Detailed mission planning;
  • Cultural awareness;
  • Advanced weapons tactics;
  • Depot level maintenance;
  • Tactical communications;
  • Advanced craft operations and preventive and corrective maintenance;
  • Long-range, over the horizon, and riverine navigation;
  • Tactical combat medicine; and
  • Intelligence operations.

Candidates who achieve the SWCC specialist qualification have proved that they have excelled in the operation of naval special warfare combatant-craft, and are formally recognised as fully trained in combat support to maritime special operations. The SWCC qualification is based on demonstrated knowledge of navigation, communications, engineering, weapons, deck systems and tactical operations of naval special warfare combatant-craft.

In times of armed conflict and war US Navy SWCC personnel are required to operate in small parties in enemy controlled territory. Operations of this nature require individuals of courage and high morale who are self-disciplined, intelligent, reliable, determined and physically fit, and who possess mental, moral and physical stamina. These units will operate in support of conventional forces, Special Forces or independently. Principle roles are:

  • Conducting maritime insertions/extractions of US Navy SEALS and other SOF.
  • Collecting information and intelligence on enemy military installations in coastal areas.
  • Performing parachute/helicopter insertion operations in support of missions.
  • Supporting military and civilian law enforcement agencies.

The US Navy SWCCs as part of the US military’s SOF community provide support to the US Navy SEALs and other SOF units and personnel. During peacetime, overseas deployments for training are frequent though usually of (relatively) short duration; this is balanced by greater stability for families who are able to remain in locally situated Service accommodation.

It must be emphasised that a candidate must be physically fit at the beginning of the US Navy SWCC training process if they are to stand any chance of success. The course requires far greater expenditure of physical energy than is normally required in other peace time training. It is essential that candidates arrive fully fit, carrying no injuries and with a sound grasp of basic navigational techniques and swimming techniques.

1.1     Aim

The aim of this article is to describe the fundamental entry requirements, selection process and training for personnel seeking to serve as a US Naval Special Warfare Boat Operator, aka US Navy SWCC.

1.2     Women and the US Navy SWCCs

From January 2016, in accordance with current US Federal Government policy on the employment of women in the US military, service as a Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman is open to both male and female volunteers (Pellerin, 2015).

1.3     Brief History

US Navy SWCC, Badge, SOF, Special Operations Forces (1)Today’s SWCC trace their roots to the motor torpedo boat squadrons of World War II, and especially from the Vietnam-era mobile support teams (MSTs) of the Naval Special Warfare Boat Support Units (BSUs).

In February 1964, Boat Support Unit One (BSU-1) was established under Naval Operations Support Group, Pacific, to operate patrol torpedo fasts (PTFs, aka naval attack craft) and other high-speed craft conducting special operations and coastal patrol and interdiction (CP&I).

Late in 1964, the first PTFs arrived in Danang, Vietnam.

In 1965, BSU-1 began training Vietnamese patrol craft fast (Swift Boat) crews to conduct CP&I. As the Vietnam mission expanded, additional Naval Special Warfare craft, tactics, and training evolved, including insertion, extraction, and fire support for US Navy SEAL operations. BSU-1 crews formed into MSTs deployed with and supported every SEAL platoon engaged in Vietnam.

Naval Special Warfare combatant craft units were reorganised twice in the 1970s and again in 1994. In 1994, the organisational structure included:

  • Special Boat Units (SBUs) Eleven (SBU–11) and Twelve (SBU–12) under Special Boat Squadron One (SBR–1) (West Coast).
  • SBU-20 and SBU–22 (East Coast) under SBR-2 (East Coast).
  • SBU-11 was disestablished in September 1997.

During Operation EARNEST WILL in the Persian Gulf from 1987 to 1989, SBUs operated 65-foot patrol boat (PB) MK III craft from the Hercules and Wimbrown VII. The PBs conducted extensive patrol and interdiction operations in the Northern Persian Gulf.

On 01 April 1994, the SWCC enlisted warfare specialty was established allowing the Naval Special Warfare force to retain highly trained boat crews rather than have them return to the fleet after one tour.

In 2001, the SWCC breast insignia was approved.

During October 2002, the three remaining SBUs (12, 20 and 22) were re-designated as Special Boat Teams (SBTs),

In October 2006, the US Navy established the Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) rating allowing personnel to stay in Naval Special Warfare field for their entire career.


Information regarding the basic requirements for enlistment or commissioning in the US Navy can be found by clicking on the links, which the reader is advised to read if not already familiar.

2.0     Eligibility

Unlike the UK model of SF, the US Navy accepts direct entry applicants, i.e. civilians with no prior military experience. As a result, volunteers for US Navy SWCC Selection may be accepted from both US civilians and US military personnel (both officer and enlisted) from any branch of military service to serve with the US Navy’s SWCC Teams.

Consequently, there are three recognised pathways to becoming a US Navy SWCC:

  1. Enlist as a civilian;
  2. Enlist while in the US Navy and apply for a transfer; or
  3. Enlist from another Branch of Military Service.

There are also a number of pre-requisite tests that candidates must pass (discussed in Sections 2.5 to 2.11 below) in order to progress their application.

The US Navy SWCC recruiting process is overseen by two SEAL and SWCC Scout Teams, West Coast Team which is based out of San Diego, California, and the East Coast Team which is based out of Little Creek, Virginia. The SEAL and SWCC Scout Team is commanded by the Director, a US Navy Captain (OF-5) (McNatt, 2014).

2.1     Enlist as a Civilian

Table 1 provides an outline of the enlistment process for civilians.

 Table 1: Enlist as a Civilian
 Step Outcome Details 
1 Visit Local US Navy Recruiter
  • Candidate informs their US Navy recruiter they aspire to be a US Navy SWCC.
  • During the initial meeting, candidates will be screened for basic US Navy eligibility (education, age, citizenship, medical history and police background).
  • The first meeting might also include a practice ASVAB (a 30-minute timed test).
  • If a candidate meets the basic requirements and does well on the practice ASVAB, the recruiter will put them in contact with the regional Naval Special Warfare/Special Operations Mentor or coordinator.
  • US Navy SWCC Mentors help guide candidates through the US Navy SWCC specific requirements and help them train for their PST.
  • Mentors will also be the ones to give candidates their Delayed Entry Programme (DEP) qualifying PST.
2 Get a US Navy Contract
  • A recruiter will schedule: the ASVAB (first day); medical exam (first or second day); and a background screening at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
  • Generally, on the same day as the medical exam, candidates will sit down with a job counsellor to find out if they are qualified to become a US Navy SWCC.
  • Generally, after the ASVAB and medical exam, candidates may have to wait to receive a US Navy SWCC contract, but will be allowed to take two tests: the C-SORT (Section 2.9) and PST (Section 2.10).
  • If a candidate meets the criteria, they will need to accept a contract into the US Navy in a role other than US Navy SWCC (meaning if an individual fails they could still be employed in the wider-Navy).
  • The US Navy contract will have a boot camp date on it, which will likely change once a candidate gets a US Navy SWCC contract.
  • Once a candidate has signed their US Navy contract, they will be in the Delayed Entry Programme, and their Special Warfare/Special Operations mentor will put them on a physical training regimen designed to help them prepare for the PST.
  • Until a candidate has taken and passed a PST, they cannot receive a US Navy SWCC contract.
3 Get a US Navy SWCC Contract
  • Once a candidate has taken and passed the PST, their recruiter or mentor will request a reclassification for them into the US Navy SWCC programme. This will generate a US Navy SWCC contract, which will supersede the US Navy contract the candidate originally received.
  • Candidates should follow the workout regimen dictated by their mentor because they will need to pass an additional PST 14 days before boot camp in order to keep their US Navy SWCC contract.
  • Strong, committed physical preparation is key to maximising a candidate’s chance of success.

2.2     Enlist While in the US Navy and Apply for a Transfer

Table 2 provides an overview of the enlistment process for Active Duty US Navy personnel wishing to transfer to the US Navy SWCC. US Navy Reservists are eligible to apply for US Navy SWCC training.

 Table 2: Enlist While in the US Navy and Apply for a Transfer
 Step Outcome Details 
1 Notify Your Command
  • US Navy SWCC candidates who already serve in the US Navy should first notify their command of their desire to become a US Navy SWCC, by submitting a Special Request Chit (see Useful Documents at end).
  • A candidate’s chain of command is not responsible for determining a candidate’s eligibility, but they must be notified before the candidate proceeds.
  • A candidate’s command should reference document: MILPERSCOM 1220-400 (see Useful Documents at end).
2 Notify Special Warfare Command
  • Candidates must notify:
    • Naval Special Warfare Command of their desire to attend US Navy SWCC selection;
    • Career counsellor; and
    • Leading petty officer or leading chief petty officer.
3 Pass a PST
  • If a candidate meets the requirements, they must schedule a PST by calling: (888) 876-7325 or (888) USN-SEAL.
  • A candidate will receive a MILPERSMAN 1220-400 instruction from the Naval Special Warfare Recruiting Directorate after successfully passing the PST.
  • This form must be included with the candidate’s application package.
  • If a candidate does not show up for a PST as scheduled, or if they fail a PST, they are disqualified from taking the test again for 45 days.
4 Apply (if pass PST)
  • Candidates will need to complete several sub-steps in order to complete an application package, which is submitted by the candidate’s career counsellor.
  • Candidates will need to have the following:
    • Signed/completed: SF-88 – Medical Screening Questionnaire.
    • Signed/completed: NAVPERS 1306-92 – Special Programmes Screening.
    • Signed/completed: DD 2807-1 – Report of Medical History [Document], filled out by the candidate.
    • Signed/completed: DD 2808 – Report of Medical Examination [Document], filled out by Dive Medical Officer.
    • Signed/completed: NAVPERS 1200-6 ‘US Military Diving Medical Screening Questionnaire.’ [Document].
    • Signed/completed: NAVPERS 1306-7 ‘Enlisted Personnel Action Request’, initiated by the candidates career counsellor [Document].
    • ASVAB certification form (which can be found in the ‘Electronic Service Record’).
    • Last three evaluations.
    • Signed/completed: Physical Screening Test (obtained from the SEAL & SWCC Scout Team once the candidate has passed the PST).
  • All packages are submitted via the candidates Command Career Counsellor (CCC) and the FLEETRIDE system for consideration by the NSW Community Manager Quarterly.
5 Prepare for the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory Course
  • If a candidate’s application package is approved, they will receive orders to attend the US Naval Special Warfare Preparatory Course in Great Lakes, Illinois.
  • Candidates must pass a PST within 30 days of their departure for the Preparatory Course.
  • If a candidate does not pass this PST, their Naval Special Warfare orders will be cancelled.

For precise criteria, candidates should consult ‘MILPERSMAN 1220-400: Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) Rating, Change 32, 02 August 2010’ located in the Useful Documents section at the end.

2.3     Enlist from another Branch of Military Service

Table 3 provides an overview of the enlistment process for US military personnel from another branch of military service wishing to transfer to the US Navy SWCCs.

 Table 3: Enlist from another Branch of Military Service
 Step Outcome Details 
1 Visit Local US Navy Recruiter
  • About 60 days before a candidate separates (transfers) from the military branch in which they currently serve, they should request a Statement of Service from their current command. This statement will include dates of active duty service and may include multiple enlistments, breaks in service, changes in grade and other information related to that service.
  • About 45 days before a candidate separates, they should visit their local US Navy recruiter. The candidate should inform the recruiter of their desire to join the US Navy and become a US Navy SWCC. The local recruiter should be able to tell the candidate if the US Navy is currently accepting personnel who have prior military experience into the US Navy SWCC programme. If the US Navy is, the recruiter will put the candidate in contact with the local Special Warfare/Special Operations mentor or coordinator.
  • During this initial meeting with the recruiter, candidates should take the following documents:
    • Statement of Service;
    • Birth Certificate;
    • Social Security Card;
    • High School Diploma; and
    • A 10-year history of addresses where they have lived.
  • For each item in the history, be prepared to provide:
    • Three personal references with name, phone number and address.
    • Addresses of people who can verify the three references information.
2 Separate from Current Branch of Service
  • Once a candidate has separated from the military, the recruiter will help them begin the process of joining the US Navy.
  • While the recruiter helps candidates with their basic US Navy requirements, the Special Warfare/Special Operations mentor or coordinator will help them with the Naval Special Warfare-specific requirements.
3 Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS)
  • The recruiter will schedule MEPS.
  • While at MEPS, candidates will find out if they pass the initial qualifications to become a US Navy SWCC.
  • If a candidate’s military entrance scores do not qualify them for the US Navy SWCC programme, they may need to retake the ASVAB.
  • Candidates may also have to take a screening medical exam.
4 Take a PST
  • Schedule a PST with the Naval Special Warfare/Special Operations Mentor or coordinator.
  • If successful, a candidate will receive a MILPERSMAN 1220-400 instruction from the Naval Special Warfare Recruiting Directorate, which must be taken to MEPS for inclusion in the candidate’s application package.
5 Get a US Navy SWCC Contract
  • If a candidate meets all the requirements to become a US Navy SWCC and are selected for Naval Special Warfare, their recruiter will contact them to schedule another visit to MEPS.
  • Candidates will receive their US Navy SWCC contract from MEPS, which will identify what rank the candidate will hold upon entering the US Navy.
  • Candidates will now be in the Delayed Entry Programme, and their Naval Special Warfare/Special Operations Mentor or coordinator will put them on a physical training regimen designed to help them prepare for their final PST and Basic Crewman Training.
  • Candidates will need to pass one more PST 14 days before they leave for US Navy Indoctrination in Great Lakes, Illinois.
  • After the indoctrination is complete, candidates will begin the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory Course.

2.4     US Navy Officers and Warrant Officers

  • Both commissioned officers and enlisted (other ranks) personnel can undertake US Navy SEAL training.
  • Only enlisted personnel can undertake Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) training.
  • SWCC rates (typically ranking from E-4 to E-9) can rise to the rank of Warrant Officer, with the first Chief Warrant Officer being commissioned in October 2003.
  • SWCC personnel and units are commanded by US Navy SEAL officers.

2.5     US Navy SWCC Entry Standards

In addition to meeting the basic requirements for enlistment or commissioning in the US Navy, candidates for US Navy SWCC training must also meet rigorous physical and mental requirements.

A potential US Navy SWCC candidate is assessed through:

  • Pre-enlistment medical screening.
  • Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB): used to assess a candidate’s mental sharpness and ability to learn.
  • Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT): used to assess a candidate’s mental sharpness and ability to learn.
  • Computerised-Special Operations Resilience Test (C-SORT): used to screen a candidate’s maturity and mental resilience.
  • SEAL Physical Screening Test (PST).

2.6     Pre-Enlistment Medical Screening

As well as the general physical examination requirements (scroll down to Section 5.2) required by the US Navy, there are also additional steps to be undertaken by US Navy SWCC candidates.

These steps can be seen in Table 2, Step 4, above.

2.7     Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

Detailed information on the ASVAB can be found here (scroll down to Section 5.1).

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is used to assess a candidate’s mental sharpness and ability to learn, and is typically conducted at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). The standard ASVAB contains the following subtests:

  • Word Knowledge (WK)
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
  • Shop Information (SI)
  • Automotive Information (AI)
  • Electronics Information (EI)
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
  • General Science (GS)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Assembling Objects (AO)
  • Verbal Expression (VE) – a scaled combination of WK+PC

An additional line score, Coding Speed (CS), should be requested at MEPS, and the score can be included in the calculation to determine eligibility for the US Navy SWCC programme. If the CS line score is not taken, only one set of line scores can be used to determine eligibility.

A candidate must score the following on the ASVAB:

  1. VE + AR = a minimum score of 103 and MC = a minimum score of 51

If a candidate does not achieve the minimum score, they will:

  • If not in the US Navy: complete more studying and re-take the test.
  • If in the US Navy: The US Navy College offer ASVAB preparation courses which can be taken prior to a re-test.

If a candidate’s score is close to the minimum and they are considered a particularly strong candidate, they may be eligible for a waiver (although not if their MC score is more than 5 points below the minimum). It must be noted that waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis. A candidate’s PST scores and the strength of their overall application package will be assessed in order to decide on eligibility.

2.8     Armed Forces Qualification Test

Detailed information on the AFQT can be found here (scroll down to Section 5.1).

Four of the ASVAB subtests are combined to form the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). It measures general cognitive ability and is composed of verbal and mathematics subtests.

AFQT results are returned as percentiles from 1-99. A score of a 50 would mean a candidate was in the 50th percentile, or have an average score. The US Navy requires an AFQT score of at least 35.

2.9     Computerised-Special Operations Resilience Test

The Computerised-Special Operations Resilience Test (C-SORT) is used to screen a candidate’s maturity and mental resilience (aka mental toughness), and can only be taken once.

The C-SORT includes multiple sections designed to assess a prospective candidate’s abilities in three areas:

  1. Performance strategies: test for capabilities such as an individual’s goal-setting, self-talk and emotional control.
  2. Psychological resilience: focuses on assessing several other areas like an individual’s acceptance of life situations and the ability to deal with cognitive challenges and threats.
  3. Personality traits.

The scores on each section of C-SORT are combined into a band score on a scale of one to four, with four indicating highest level of mental resilience and one being the lowest level of mental resilience.

To determine eligibility for the US Navy SWCC programme, the C-SORT band score is combined with the candidate’s PST run and swim times. Individuals who have low C-SORT and slow combined run and swim times are not offered US Navy SWCC contracts.

Although candidates cannot retake C-SORT, they can retake their delayed entry programme qualifying PST and demonstrate their motivation by improving their PST score (in particular the run and swim times). Individuals improving their PST score may then increase their C-SORT band, and thus qualify for a US Navy SWCC contract.

2.10     US Navy SWCC Physical Screening Test

To receive a US Navy SWCC contract, or even be remotely considered, a candidate must achieve a minimum pass in the US Navy SWCC Physical Screening Test (PST), as outlined in Table 4 below.

 Table 4: US Navy SWCC Physical Screening Test
 Exercise Minimum Pass Optimum Pass Time Limit Rest Period
500 Yard Swim 13.00 9.30 13.00 10 minutes
Press-ups 50 80 2 minutes 2 minutes
Sit-ups 50 75 2 minutes 2 minutes
Heaves 6 15 2 minutes 10 minutes
1.5 Mile Run 12.00 10.30 10.30 N/A
PST Score 1364 955

For details on swim technique (Combat Side Stroke) see the Useful Documents Section at the end of the article.

The qualifying PST must be administered by a Naval Special Warfare coordinator or mentor. Prospective candidates can increase their chances of being selected for Basic Crewman Training and succeeding in training by having optimum PST scores or better.

“In fiscal year 2014, the average in-fleet SEAL or SWCC candidate who was selected did more than 22 pullups [heaves] in his PST, said NSW recruiting directorate commanding officer Capt. Duncan Smith last year,” (Myers, 2015).

2.11     Other Requirements

  • Age:
    • Candidates must be from 17 to 30 years old.
    • Waivers for individuals aged 31 to 34 are available for highly qualified candidates.
  • Vision:
    • Must be correctable to 20/25.
    • Uncorrected vision must be at least 20/70 in the worst eye and 20/40 in the best.
    • Colour blindness is disqualifying.
  • Citizenship:
    • Candidates must be US citizens.
  • Security Clearance:
    • Applicants must be able to obtain a secret security clearance.

“Despite the bare minimum requirements, applicants in each monthly pool compete against each other for a limited number of spots, so the selection ends up with a curve. Of hundreds of thousands who contact NSW recruiting every year, maybe 10,000 work with a recruiter to prepare, and less than 700 will end up cleared for training, Smith said.” (Myers, 2015).


3.0     US Navy SEAL Selection and Training Phases

070825-N-9769P-317 FT. KNOX, Ky. (Aug. 25, 2007) - A Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC) mans his GAU-17 minigun during live-fire patrol training along the Salt River in northern Kentucky. SWCCs attached to Special Boat Team 22 (SBT-22) from Stennis, Miss., employ the Special Operations Craft Riverine (SOC-R), which is specifically designed for the clandestine insertion and extraction of U.S. Navy SEALs and other special operations forces along shallow waterways and open water environments. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jayme Pastoric (RELEASED)

Special Warfare Boat Operator selection, aka US Navy SWCC training pipeline, is the selection and training process for candidates wishing to join the US Navy’s SWCC community.

Once (Phase 1) recruit training has been successfully completed, and other (Phase 2) training for in-fleet and in-service transfers, all US Navy SWCC candidates will undertake four distinct stages of training.

During this training candidates are taught the fundamentals of naval special warfare through a combination of formal US Navy schooling and on the job training. The four stages of training include:

  • Stage 1: Special Warfare Boat Operator Preparatory Course.
  • Stage 2: NSW Orientation.
  • Stage 3: Basic Crewman Training.
  • Stage 4: Crewman Qualification Training.

Stages 1 to 3 provide a candidate with their basic and intermediate SWCC skills and stage 4 (Section 3.4) consists of advanced SWCC skills.

3.1     Stage 1: Special Warfare Boat Operator Preparatory Course

The Special Warfare Boat Operator Preparatory Course (NSW Prep) is delivered by the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School located at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. This stage of training is/has also been known as SWCC Prep, Pre-SWCC and Pre-Indoctrination. The course is led by the Officer in Charge (OIC), a Master Chief Petty Officer (OR-9).

The NSW Prep course was officially established on 07 February 2008 (SOCNET, 2007; ShadowSpear, 2008), having been piloted the previous summer, and was designed to increase the chances of candidates during the training process. Of the 250 candidates who started before the course was officially established, 33 left (ShadowSpear, 2008).

This course is between 5 and 9 weeks in duration and covers the physical and psychological preparation for SWCC training. Essentially, this phase of training acts as a link between basic training and the SWCC course, as many individuals will suffer from detraining as a consequence of the naval basic training process.

NSW Prep can be divided into three distinct elements:

  1. Check-in: conducted in week 1 and includes administration, physical/medical assessments and course introduction.
  2. Conditioning: conducted over 4-8 weeks and includes group physical training (determined by ability level), daily academic instruction and progress tracking.
  3. Testing and transfers which includes exit standards, PST, review board and ship to BCT.

This phase of training starts with a PST, as described above, and ends with a modified PST, as outlined in Table 5 below.

 Table 5: Modified US Navy SWCC Physical Screening Test
 Exercise Minimum Pass Time Limit
1000 Yard Swim (with fins) 22.30 minutes or less 22.30 minutes
Press-ups 50 2 minutes
Sit-ups 60 2 minutes
Heaves 7 2 minutes
3 Mile Run (with pants and shoes) 24 minutes or less 24 minutes

Candidates who do not pass the longer, more intense test are removed from training and reclassified to other jobs in the US Navy, or maybe moved to another class.

Instruction involves a variety of teaching methods including group instruction, classroom-based and practical. The School utilises US Navy Recruit Training Command pools, indoor and outdoor tracks and other facilities in and around Naval Station Great Lakes. The School’s staff and curriculum are under the Naval Special Warfare Centre.

US Navy SEAL ChallengeThe curriculum reinforces the US Navy’s core values and is divided into three streams:

  1. Physical training which includes:
    1. Swimming (basic swimming techniques).
    2. Running (principles of running and running fundamentals).
    3. Strength and conditioning (plyometrics).
    4. Basic underwater skills.
    5. Group calisthenics.
  2. Academic training which includes:
    1. SWCC ethos.
    2. Core values (military heritage (aircraft, ships, honours and courtesies) and sexual assault, harassment, fraternisation and discrimination training).
    3. Exercise science (injury prevention, stretching, rest and recovery, hypothermia related injuries and heat related injuries).
    4. Nutrition (supplements).
    5. Mental toughness.
  3. Military training which includes:
    1. Basic military training (knot tying and operational risk management).
    2. Berthing (military pay system, military rights and responsibilities, and moral, welfare and recreation).
    3. Personnel inspections.
    4. Phased liberty (leave and liberty policies).
    5. Professional development (principles of team building, cycle of achievement, goal setting and alcohol and its effects).

3.2     Stage 2: NSW Orientation

The NSW Orientation, also known as Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Orientation, is delivered by the US Naval Special Warfare Centre located at Coronado, California. This stage of training is also known as SWCC Indoctrination or just Indoctrination.

This course is 3 weeks in duration and covers the physical and psychological preparation for Basic Crewman Training (BCT). This training involves becoming ‘familiar’ with the obstacle course, swimming practice and teamwork.

Instruction involves a variety of teaching methods including group instruction, classroom-based and practical. NSW Orientation is delivered in three elements:

  • Week 1: This week involves administration and check-in, including equipment issue and administrative indoctrination. Candidates will undertake two initial runs and two initial obstacle courses run-throughs.
  • Week 2: This is known as orientation week and involves learning the routine, skills and standards required, practicing the skills required for BCT entry, and also ‘safe student’ learning and practical of high-risk evolutions.
  • Week 3: This is known as test week and involves BCT Entry Standards.

3.3     Stage 3: Basic Crewman Training

US Navy SWCC, SOF, Special Operations Forces (2)The Basic Crewman Training (BCT) course, or ‘A’ school, is 7-weeks in duration and develops candidates in physical training, water competency and mental tenacity while continuing to develop teamwork.

This stage of training is delivered by the US Naval Special Warfare Centre located at Coronado, California.

During these 7-weeks, candidates will undertake timed runs, swimming (pool, bay and ocean) and calisthenics, as well as enjoying the obstacle course. The intensity of candidate performance increases each week.

Training during this stage consists of physical fitness, water safety skills and basic crewmember skills, including basic navigation and small boat seamanship.

The ultimate test of the candidates’ physical and mental fortitude comes during a 3-day period known as ‘The Tour.’ This 51-hour period includes a navigation, boat tactics, and swimming evolution with little sleep and constant exposure to the elements. Candidates must demonstrate teamwork and mental tenacity.

Completion of BCT requires proficiency in coxswain skills, over-the-horizon navigation, small-craft tactics, weapons, communications, maritime insertion and extraction, and coastal patrol and interdiction.

On completion of BCT, successful candidates advance to Crewman Qualification Training.

3.4     Stage 4: Crewman Qualification Training

Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) is 17-weeks in duration and is delivered by the US Naval Special Warfare Centre located at Coronado, California.

During this stage of training, candidates advance to intermediate levels of seamanship and navigation. They will also be introduced to various weapons and communications systems.

Candidates become proficient in marksmanship and close quarter combat, seamanship, maritime navigation, communications, engineering, waterborne patrolling, mobility and combat casualty care (first aid). Physical training during CQT continues to increase in preparation for the requirements of the operational Special Boat Teams, which they will join once they successfully complete the course.

They also receive an introduction into the Naval Special Warfare Mission Planning Cycle; a demanding exercise in a practical environment where candidates apply all the skills acquired throughout training. This involves the 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, candidates apply all the skills, tactics and techniques they have acquired during training.

Candidates also attend the 3-week NSW SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) course prior to deployment.

Graduates of CQT are designated as Special Warfare Boat Operators, authorised to wear the SWCC insignia, and assigned to a Special Boat Team.

3.5     Graduation

Upon completing these (not inconsiderable) requirements, trainees receive their SWCC Badge, designating them as qualified US Navy SWCCs. They are subsequently assigned to a Special Boat Team to begin preparing for their first deployment.

At this point successful candidates will be awarded the SWCC Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) 5350.

Obligated Service, Return of Service in the UK vernacular, is 36 months from completion of ‘A’ school class graduation date and awarding of the 5350 NEC or until completion of previous obligated service, whichever is greater.

3.6     SWCC Badge

US Navy SWCC, Badge, SOF, Special Operations Forces (2)The US Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman insignia, or Specail Warfare Boat Operator (SB) Badge, is a military qualification badge which was first conceived in 1996, although the design was not approved for wear until 2001.

The SB rating badge is all black, and consists of an Anchor crossed diagonally by a Flintlock Pistol and Cutlass.

3.7     SWCC Navy Enlisted Classifications

Enlisted SWCC personnel are designated by Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) codes per their qualifications:

  • NEC 5350: Basic Special Warfare Boat Operator (Student)
  • NEC 5351: Reserve Special Warfare Boat Operator.
  • NEC 5352: Special Warfare Boat Operator (SWCC)
  • NEC 5392: Naval Special Warfare Medic.

Refer to NAVPERS 18068F Volume II in the Useful Documents Section at the end for further details on NEC codes.

3.8     Post-Graduation and Skill Training

Initial training (within the first 2-years of graduation) that SWCC may undertake includes:

  • 1-week Navy Parachute Line Static Course.
  • 22-week Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Special Operations Tactical Paramedic (SO-TP) (5392).
  • 6-week NSW Communications Course.
  • 2-week NSW Photographic Image Capture (PIC).
  • 5-week NSW Small Arms Organizational Level Maintenance Technician (NSW Armorer) (9536).
  • 4-week Navy Parachute Free Fall Course.
  • 1-day High Altitude Parachutist Physiology (HAPPS).
  • 4-week Naval Special Operations Parachute Rigger (7353).
  • 1 to 2-week Kamewa Mechanical & Electronics Basic/Advanced.
  • 2-week Caterpillar Diesel Technician (4305).
  • 2-week Outboard Engine Mechanic (4313).
  • 1 to 2-week American Sailing Association.
  • 2-day Chapman Powerboat Certification.
  • 1-week Explosive Demo Driver Course.


4.0     Summary

US Navy SWCC training is open to all male and female enlisted personnel of the US military. US Navy SWCC training seeks to attract determined, highly-motivated, intelligent, reliable and physically fit individuals to serve with the US Navy’s Special Boat Teams. This article provides the basic information to allow individuals to make an informed judgement before applying for US Navy SWCC training.

4.1     TV Documentaries

First aired in August 2010, ‘Surviving the Cut’ was a 12-part, two season series for the Discovery Channel that followed elite and special forces trainees from across the US military during their training programmes.

Season 2, Episode 1 ‘Naval Special Warfare Combatant Craft Basic’, first aired in July 2011, followed trainees during their first phase of SWCC training. The training lasted 5-weeks and successful candidates then advanced to the next and final phase of training – SWCC Advanced.

Season 2, Episode 6 ‘SWCC Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman (Advanced)’, first aired in August 2011, followed trainees during their final phase of training. The candidates faced hostile water rescue tests, brutal team building events and small boat operations in extreme conditions.

A fascinating insight, and eye-opening experience, into the selection and training process for one of the US military’s Special Operations Forces units. You WILL feel the pain after watching the physical and mental challenges these candidates are faced with.

4.2     Useful Documents

The following documents can be found within the various websites listed in the Useful Links Section below.

  • The US Navy Enlisted Occupational Classifications System (NEOCS):
    • NAVPERS 18068F, Manual of Navy Enlisted Manpower and Personnel Classifications and Occupational Standards, Volume I, Navy Enlisted Occupational Standards. October 2015.
    • NAVPERS 18068F, Manual of Navy Enlisted Manpower and Personnel Classifications and Occupational Standards, Volume II, Navy Enlisted Classifications. October 2015.
  • US Navy Recruiting Manual – Enlisted, COMNAVCRUITCOMINST 1130.8J, Volume II – Eligibility Requirements. Change 8, 27 May 2011.
  • Manual of the Medical Department (MANMED). NAVMED P-117, Chapter 15, Article 15-105. Change 139, 24 January 2012.
  • US Navy Diving Manual. Revision 6, 15 April 2008.
  • OPNAV Instruction 1160.8A, Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB) Programme. 30 January 2007.
  • BUPERS Instruction 1430.16F, Advancement Manual for Enlisted Personnel of the US Navy and US Navy Reserve. 02 November 2007.
  • OPNAV Instruction 5350.4D, Navy Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Control. 04 June 2009.
  • OPNAV Instruction 1414.5, Enlisted Naval Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC) Specialist Qualification Programme (2000-10-03); superseded by OPNAV Instruction 1414.9.
  • OPNAV Instruction 1414.9, Navy Enlisted Warfare Qualification Programmes (2010-08-10).
  • US Navy Defence Joint Military Pay System (DJMS) Procedures Training Guide (PTG) (Offline). 18 December 2015.
  • MILPERSMAN 1220-100: Navy Diver (ND) Rating, Change 43, 30 May 2013.
  • MILPERSMAN 1220-200: Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Rating, Change 45, 14-11-2013.
  • MILPERSMAN 1220-300: Special Warfare Operator (SO) Rating, Change 47, 01 April 2014.
  • MILPERSMAN 1220-400: Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) Rating, Change 32, 02 August 2010.
  • MILPERSMAN 1220-410: SEAL/EOD/SWCC/DIVER/AIRR Physical Screening Test Standards & Procedures, Change 42, 06 January 2013.
  • Naval Special Warfare Combat Side Stroke (CSS) Guide (2014-03).
  • NAVPERS 1306-92 – Special Programmes Screening.

4.3     Useful Books and Magazines

Bahmanyar, M. (2005) Elite 113 – US Navy SEALs. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

Darby, M.J. (2004) Mind Games. All Hands: Magazine of the U.S. Navy. August 2004, pp.14-23. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/department_arch2004.html. [Accessed: 08 February, 2016].

Ethos: Magazine of US Naval Special Warfare: http://www.sealswcc.com/navy-seals-ethos-magazine.html#.VriYOFh4aM8

Liptak, E. (2014) Elite 203: World War II Navy Special Warfare Units. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

McNab, C. (2013) America’s Elite: US Special Forces from the American Revolution to the Present Day. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

4.4     Useful Links

4.5     References

Feickert, A. (2013) U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress. CRS Report for Congress. Washington: Congressional Research Service

Myers, M. (2015) Navy SEALs Won’t Change Standards for Women, Admiral Says. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2015/12/17/navy-seals-wont-change-standards-women-admiral-says/77417136/. [Accessed: 08 February, 2016].

Pellerin, C. (2015) SecDef Opens all Military Occupations to Women. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.therecruiterjournal.com/secdef-opens-all-military-occupations-to-women.html. [Accessed: 04 December, 2015].

ShadowSpear (2008) BUD/S Prep School SWCPC at RTC. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.shadowspear.com/vb/threads/bud-s-prep-school-swcpc-at-rtc.2553/. [Accessed: 08 February, 2016].

SOCNET (2007) New Program Before BUD/S. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.socnet.com/showthread.php?t=74440. [Accessed: 08 February, 2016].