NOTE: This is the first of a three-part series for Special Operations undersea and surface vessels, air delivery platforms, and land mobility platforms. Links to parts two and three are presented at the bottom of the article.
On a deserted beach half a world away, Navy SEALs — elite commandos tasked with completing some of the United States’ most sensitive military missions — silently emerge from the waves and approach their targets. Their mode of transport, an underwater vessel capable of being ferried by submarine, loiters in the sea awaiting their return.
Watercraft — both underwater and on the surface — provide special operators with a key technological advantage: the ability to quickly, efficiently and covertly conduct missions from the sea. While commandos as of late have become closely associated with conducting operations on land thanks to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a command-wide pivot to great power competition will increase the need for these maritime systems as operators turn to the water, experts have said.
Special Operations Command is currently undergoing two major modernization efforts for its underwater systems — the shallow water combat submersible and the dry combat submersible. Both platforms are key to moving SEALs through oceans and seas.
Capt. Katherine Dolloff, program executive officer for maritime systems at the command, said SOCOM has over the past year taken delivery of the first two production systems for the shallow water combat submersible program which is meant to replace aging MK-8, Mod 1 SEAL delivery vehicles.
“The SWCS represents a significant improvement over the legacy … [system] in several areas,” she told National Defense in an email. “SWCS brings increased payload and range, updated sensors, an improved navigation system and a modernized command-and-control architecture to permit the rapid integration of new technologies.”
Special Operations Command Upgrades Air Delivery Vehicles
Special Ops Community Chasing New Ground Mobility Systems