Female Sailor is now a Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen

The Tour - SWCC Hell Week

The first woman to become a Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) graduated from the Naval Special Warfare training pipeline on Thursday, July 15, 2021. She was among 17 graduates of the Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) class earning their pins.

“Becoming the first woman to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment, and we are incredibly proud of our teammate. Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join our force.”

Rear Adm. H. W. Howard, commander, U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command

The Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen specialize in small boats used in maritime operations, insertion and exfiltration of SEAL and other special operations elements, Visit Board Search Seizure (VBSS), and in the conduct of coastal patrol and interdiction. SWCCs provide dedicated rapid mobility in shallow water areas where larger ships cannot operate. The Special Boat Teams have the unique capability of delivering combat craft via parachute drop utilizing the Maritime Combatant Craft Aerial Delivery System.

Photo: CORONADO, Calif. (May 14, 2020) A member of Crewman Qualification Training Class 109 receives a Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC) Basic pin during a graduation ceremony at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, May 14, 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anthony W. Walker/Released) 200514-N-QC706-0117

The ‘official’ Naval Special Warfare website on SEAL / SWCC training details the rigorous and demanding 37-week long training that SWCCs undergo to become qualified. The website states that there are five stages for a SWCC candidate.

  • Stage 1 (2 months) takes place at the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School in Great Lakes, Illinois where the candidates improve their physical fitness and learn the basic concepts of special warfare.
  • Stage 2 (three weeks) is the Naval Special Warfare Orientation course where there is a lot of physical fitness and water training.
  • Stage 3 (7 weeks) is the Basic Crewman Selection course (BCS) where the physical fitness training and conditioning continues. More running and swimming with lots of time spent in the pool or ocean. The last part of the BCS is called “The Tour” – a grueling days long crucible period requiring mental fortitude and physical stamina.
  • Stage 4 (7 weeks) is the Basic Crewman Training where the candidates learn special operations maritime skills, navigation, communications, combat medicine, and small boat seamanship.
  • Stage 5 (7 weeks) is the Crewman Qualification Training. The mental and physical toughness of the SWCC candidates is tested while they learn advanced navigation, weapons, mission planning, and small boat operations. After competing this phase the candidates attend NSW survival, SERE, and cross-cultural training.

The graduation rate for the SWCC assessment and selection pipeline is about 35%. In 2016 the Navy’s special warfare duty positions were opened to female sailors. 18 women have attempted the SEAL or SWCC training, but thus far, only one has successfully completed the training. The new SWCCs will either go on to some specialized training (for instance, the Special Operations Combat Medic course) or report to a Special Boat Team.

Naval SOF Train in Mediterranean Sea

Photo: Naval special operations forces from the Greek Underwater Demolition Team (DYK), Cypriot Underwater Demolition Team (UDT), and U.S. Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) conduct Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) in Souda Bay, Greece, during a trilateral exercise, January 11-29. (Photo by Sgt. Monique ONeill, SOCEUR, Jan 24, 2021)

Once qualified SWCCs continue to train in their core competencies as well as in advanced skills. They are experts in maritime operations, navigation, communications, engineering, parachuting, and other special operations tactics and techniques. The principle boats that they will operate include the Combat Craft Assault (CCA), Combat Craft Medium (CCM), Combat Craft Heavy (CCH), , and the Special Operations Craft Riverine (SOC-R).

Photo: Two combatant craft assault crafts (CCA) assigned to the Special Boat Team 20 perform a high-speed transit in the Mediterranean Sea, May 26, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Coffer, May 26, 2021)

The Navy has three Special Boat Teams with 800 sailors. The Special Boat Teams are located in Coronado, California (SBT 12), Little Creek, Virginia (SBT 20), and Stennis, Mississippi (SBT 22). The SBTs are continually deploying to overseas locations in support of naval special operations exercises, training, and missions.


Top Photo: A Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC) candidate from Basic Crewman Selection (BCS) Class 111 prepares for an evolution during “The Tour” at Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Center in Coronado, Calif., June 1, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Furey)

About John Friberg 201 Articles
John Friberg is the Editor and Publisher of SOF News. He is a retired Command Chief Warrant Officer (CW5 180A) with 40 years service in the U.S. Army Special Forces with active duty and reserve components.