The Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen's history dates back to World War II Patrol Coastal and Patrol Boat Torpedo generally known as PT Boats. Though no organizational lineage exists between the World War II units that used these boats and NSW, these boats were the ancestors of the NSW Patrol Coastal ship, a boat no longer in the NSW inventory, and the MKV Special Operations Craft.
Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, which used PT Boats, rescued Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur ( and later the Filipino president ) from the Philippines after the Japanese invasion and then participated in guerrilla actions until American resistance ended with the fall of Corregidor.
PT Boats subsequently participated in most of the campaigns in the Southwest Pacific by conducting and supporting joint/combined reconnaissance, blockade, sabotage and raiding missions as well as attacking Japanese shore facilities, shipping and combatants. PT Boats were later used in the European Theater beginning in April 1944 to support the Office of Strategic Service in the insertions of espionage and French Resistance personnel and for amphibious landing deception.
Naval Special Warfare Boat Teams trace their origins to the "Brown Water" naval force established in 1965 to support American military efforts during the Vietnam conflict.
COMMISSIONING: BOAT SUPPORT UNIT ( BSU )
DESIGNATION | SUPPORT NSW FORCES
Boat Support Unit ( BSU ) One was commissioned in February 1964 to modify, test, evaluate and operate combatant craft in support of Navy SEALs in Vietnam. Home ported at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, BSU-1 was a component of the Naval Operations Support Group, Pacific, commanded by Navy Capt. Phil H. Bucklew, a pioneer of Naval Special Warfare and the namesake of the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado.
BSU-1 operated the newly reinstated Patrol Torpedo Fast ( PTF ) program and high-speed craft in support of NSW forces. In late 1964 the first PTFs arrived in Danang, Vietnam. In 1965, BSU-1 began training Patrol Craft Fast crews for Vietnamese coastal patrol and interdiction operations. As the Vietnam mission expanded in to the riverine environment, additional craft, tactics and training evolved for riverine patrol and SEAL support.
The development of a robust riverine warfare capability during the Vietnam conflict produced the forerunner of the modern Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman. Mobile Support Teams provided combat craft support for SEAL operations, as did Patrol Boat-Riverine and Swift Boat sailors.
FORMAL TRAINING: AMERICA'S TASK FORCE 115, 116 AND 117
INSTRUCTION | PROSPECTIVE CREWMAN
On Jan. 30, 1967, the Naval Inshore Operations Training Center was commissioned on Mare Island, California, and charged with providing instruction and functional training for the prospective crewmen of Task Forces 116 ( River Patrol ) and 117 ( River Assault ).
Training for the prospective crews of Task Force 115 ( Coastal Surveillance ) was conducted at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, Calif. In the 11-week River Assault Craft training program, sailors were exposed to the special features of:
and all aspects of riverine warfare.
ORGANIZATION INTO DIVISIONS AND SQUADRONS: THE RE-DISIGNATION OF BOAT SUPPORT UNITS
RECOGNITION | BROWN WATER OPERATORS
After the Vietnam conflict, the three task forces were reorganized into stateside Riverine/Coastal Divisions and Squadrons to retain the expertise of these highly trained and combat-proven operators in support of Naval Special Warfare missions.
By 1972, the three specialized task forces totaled more than 700 craft and 38,000 men. In May 1983, the Naval Special Warfare community went through the first major organizational evolution since the establishment of SEAL Teams One and Two in 1962.
Underwater Demolition Team unit designations were retired, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams were commissioned, and the last Boat Support Unit was re-designated as a Special Boat Unit. The re-designation of BSUs was a clear recognition of the active and expanding role the "Brown Water" operators were taking in Special Operations.
dates also attend the NSW Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape course. Physical training during CQT continues to increase in preparation for the requirements of the operational Special Boat Teams, which they will join once they complete the course.