Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine

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Naval Special Forces Command
Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine
Kampfschwimmer FRGRHH.png
Active1 August 1958–present
CountryGermany Germany (Marine)
Branch German Navy
TypeSpecial operations force
Sea Land Air
Part ofEinsatzflottille 1
Nickname(s)Kampfschwimmer, KSM
Motto(s)Lerne leiden, ohne zu klagen! (Learn to suffer without complaining!)
EngagementsGulf War
FR Yugoslavia
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Ocean Shield
NATO military symbol for the Kampfschwimmer

Naval Special Forces Command, also called the Kampfschwimmer ("Combat Swimmers", abbreviated "KSM"[1]) or Verwendungsgruppe 3402 (Deployment Group 3402) are an elite special forces unit of the Germany Navy, specializing in commando and amphibious warfare operations. They are the only special-purpose force of the German Navy. The Kampfschwimmer were set up when Germany joined NATO in 1955.

During the existence of the GDR (East Germany), the People's Navy (Volksmarine) of the GDR also had a commando frogman force, the Kampfschwimmerkommando 18, which was stationed in Kühlungsborn. They trained at Prora on Rügen.[citation needed]


The first German frogman commando unit was formed under the direction of Alfred von Wurzian during World War II, an Olympic swimmer originally from Austria. Wurzian was initially an artilleryman. He had to overcome a lot of hurdles to form this specialized unit as many brass types could not buy into the concept of such a specialized unit. The unit's name was Küstenjäger-Abteilung "Brandenburg".

1942 – 1943[edit]

  • 1942 onwards: Amateur diver Alfred von Wurzian tested breathing apparatus (Dräger oxygen rebreathers from Hans Hass) for the Kriegsmarine.
  • 1942: German frogmen clashed with Soviet frogmen at a Tsemes Bay seaport at Novorossiysk.[2] The skirmish resulted in some knife battles underwater.[3]
  • 1943: Admiral Karl Dönitz orders Vice-Admiral Hellmuth Heye to create a special unit. It is originally named Kleinkampfmittelverband ("small ordnance association") but it is better known under the name of K-Verband or Meereskämpfer (ocean warriors). Its first men, including von Wurzian, were trained by experienced Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS men. (The German Waffen-SS also had a frogman section called SS-Jagdkommando Donau.)


  • 1944 June: Three German frogman units called "Marine Einsatzkommando" (MEK) became active. Each unit had one officer and 22 men. But they were not ready for D-Day.
  • 1944 June 23: German naval frogmen blow up two bridges on the Orne river, using two torpedoes of 800 kg.[4]
  • 1944 July: There were several attacks by German Neger craft in the English Channel, setting off from Villers sur Mer. On July 8, these attacks badly damaged the cruiser ORP Dragon (which was scuttled on July 20), and sunk the destroyer HMS Isis. 12 attack boats were used in attacks in the mouth of the Orne river.
  • July 1944: German frogmen destroyed the lock gates on the Orne river.[5]
  • 26 August 1944: MEK 60 German frogmen destroyed the Vascouy coastal artillery battery position.[6]
  • 1944 September 16: By this time the Allies had taken Antwerp. Two teams of five German frogmen left Rotterdam on two attack boats, to attack Antwerp docks. When they were stopped by defence nets, the teams continued by swimming, each towing a torpedo with a ton of explosive. One team placed its torpedo on the main canal lock in Antwerp. The lock was out of use for three months.[7]
  • 1944, night of September 28–29: By now the Allies had taken intact a road bridge at Nijmegen and a railway bridge at Moerdijk, and had immediately installed a strong anti-aircraft defence there. In order to assist with a German counter offensive against the Nijmegen salient, three groups of four German frogmen set off from 10 km upstream from the bridges. They were to place explosives under the bridges and then to continue with the river current 24 km further to return to their lines. The railway bridge was blown up. The road bridge was only slightly damaged because the mine had been badly placed. Of the 12 men, three were killed, seven were captured, and two returned to their lines.[8]
  • Soviet EPRON Diver K.D. Zolotovskiy claims his Soviet frogman team had underwater skirmishes with German frogmen in the Svir river.[9]
  • 1944 December: German frogman operations in the Vistula river.
  • After Italy changed sides, the German frogman unit MEK71 based in Jugoslavia made numerous attacks against liberated Italy, using two-man canoes.


  • February 1945: German frogmen operations in the Oder river.
  • March 1945: Multiple failed attempts to destroy the Ludendorff Bridge near Remagen by German frogmen.[10] The final failed attempt was performed by seven German Waffen SS frogmen.[11]
  • March–April 1945:German frogmen destroyed two important supply bridges in Stettin harbor.[12] Three bridges were destroyed between the island of Wollin and the Pomeranian mainland.[13] Another bridge was destroyed by German frogmen near Dievenow.[14]
  • May 1945 German frogmen failed in their initial attempt to blow up the pontoon bridges at Nipperwiese and Fiddichow.[15]
  • May 1945 German frogmen succeed in their second attempt to blow up the pontoon bridges at Nipperwiese and Fiddichow.[16] Frogmen Siegfried Koneke and Walter Lewandowski were awarded the German Cross in Gold for their actions.[17]

Craft developed by Germany during World War II[edit]

  • The "lentil". It is a fast silent boat carrying 300 kg of explosive. The pilot directs it and then jumps in the sea and is collected by another boat.
  • A "chariot" copied from that of the British who copied it from the Italian maiale. The Italians never transmitted to the Germans the plans of their maiale.
  • The "Neger" (German for "negro"), a single-seat torpedo sailing awash at four knots. Its pilot leaves it before precipitating it on the objective.
  • Creation of pocket submarines (one-seater and two-seater).

Incompletely planned operations[edit]

  • Plan to attack the underwater oil pipeline PLUTO.
  • Plan to block the Suez Canal by sinking boats in it.

Post World War II[edit]

This section was translated from de:Kampfschwimmer (Bundeswehr); refer back there in case of query about the translation.

The Kampfschwimmer were set up particularly because Germany joined NATO and there was felt to be risk of war with the Soviet Union. A unit was needed which could help to secure the Baltic Sea exits through the Danish Straits. On 1 August 1958 Group 3402, as these commando frogmen were called by the navy, was set up. It consisted of men without a Nazi past, who had served in World War II in the small combat forces and the naval employment commands.

The first Kampfschwimmer were trained first with the Nageurs de combat in France. France had developed the role of the commando frogmen further in the Indochina war, to the modern single fighter.

The Kampfschwimmer should carry out their tasks both in the water and ashore, like German commando frogmen did in World War II. But now a new dimension was added: airborne operations. This three-role concept of the French became the basis of the commando frogmen of the German navy.

On 1 April 1964, the Kampfschwimmer appeared for the first time as an independent body. In the following years they extended their tasks, but lacked money. Thus e.g. they had to buy their own drysuit undersuits.


KSM frogman

In the Gulf War, German frogmen completed various operations that are classified by German Intelligence and such. Frogmen have decreased ten times in size as in the 1990s they had est. 3,500-4,000 troops.

The naval commandos were also active from 1994 to 1996, during the NATO arms embargo against former Yugoslavia. The frogmen conducted boarding operations of suspicious freighters from German frigates and destroyers. Due to insufficient berthing capabilities on board the German warships, the boarding parties were usually undermanned. The commandos had to train ordinary crewmembers as auxiliaries in tasks such as keeping watch and taking control of the engine room and bridge of the boarded vessels.[18]


Since 1974 the Kampfschwimmer have been stationed in the naval base at Eckernförde near Kiel. In October 1994 they were subordinate to the Flotilla of Mine Warfare. In Eckernförde a combat frogman group was set up, it consists of a mine clearance diver company and a commando frogmen company. Allegedly the weapon diver group has 250 men. The commando frogmen company had, according to strength and equipment records, 3 groups, each with 16 men. Of it, approximately 40 men are actively operational.

In 2001 the Waffentauchergruppe ("Armed Diver Group") became the Bataillon Spezialisierter Kräfte ("Specialised Forces Battalion").

By a transformation in 2003 the de:Spezialisierte Einsatzkräfte Marine ("Specialised Task Forces of the Navy") was formed. The SEK M was divided further into the Combat Swimmer Company, a mine clearance diver company, and two naval companies for special employments (e.g. to board ships), a training inspection group, and further support elements.

Conditions for entry[edit]

Success rate is approximately 30% which is up from the previous 5-10 percent over the three-year training period.[19] These minimum requirements must be fulfilled by all candidates, to become certified for training:[20]

  • Applicants must be German citizens in the sense of the article 116 of the Grundgesetz (Constitution)
  • They must be at least 17 years old and no more than 25 years old.
  • Realschulabschluss or Abitur, with favorable exam passes.
  • 1000m swim in less than 24 minutes
  • 5000m run in less than 22 minutes
  • 30m distance swim underwater without equipment
  • Stay underwater without breathing for at least 60 seconds
  • Sport test with at least 20 points; at least 3 points for each exercise
  • Active duty soldier must have at least attained the rank of Feldwebel or be officer. The civilian applicant must be ready to enlist for 12 years.
  • Diving fitness is examined by the Schifffahrtsmedizinisches Institut (naval medical institute) of the navy.
  • Parachute jump fitness is examined by the same institute.


During the training, it is less about the physical load than the psychological load, which causes many applicants to give up. The physical achievement can be trained, but overcoming the fear is the most important goal of the training. The training includes but is not limited to swimming, diving, navigation, close combat, weapons handling, and parachuting. In the special conclusion exercise their ability and hardness are equally demanded, before they join the circle of the commando frogmen. In further training sections they are trained as team leaders or specialists.

Introductory training[edit]

First there are four weeks of introductory training. In this time the applicants are pushed hard physically and psychologically by fixed exercises. All exercises have the goal to take away the fear of water and to make the applicant feel safe in the water. One of the exercises is called gefesseltes Schwimmen (the bound swimming). The applicant is placed on the starting block in the full combat suit, with his hands tied behind his back and his feet tied together, and then pushed in the swimming pool. He must stay for 30 seconds alone clearly; afterwards a safety diver pulls him back up.

In the so-called "hate week" the trainees are deprived of sleep. Between the night exercises, there are night runs. Meanwhile, the normal routine of the day continues: swimming, diving, and push-ups.

They also have to train to exit and enter a submarine through a torpedo tube. At the final examination they have to swim about 30 km with full equipment in the Baltic Sea to reach the beach after being discharged at the sea.



Name Type Origin Notes
Heckler & Koch USP Semi-automatic Pistol Germany
Heckler & Koch SFP9-SF M Semi-automatic Pistol Germany
Heckler & Koch MP5K / MP5SD SMG Germany May be fitted with various different optics.
Heckler & Koch MP7 A2 PDW Germany May be fitted with the Rheinmetall LLM Vario-Ray and various different optics.
Heckler & Koch G36K Assault-rifle Germany May be fitted with the AG36 grenade launcher, the Rheinmetall LLM Vario-Ray and various different optics.
Heckler & Koch HK416 A7 (as G95K) Assault-rifle Germany May be fitted with the HK GLM grenade launcher, the Rheinmetall Variable Tactical Aiming Laser (VTAL) and various different optics.
Heckler & Koch HK417 A2 (as G27) Battle-rifle Germany May be fitted with the HK GLM grenade launcher, the Rheinmetall LLM Vario-Ray and various different optics.
Heckler & Koch G28 DMR Germany
Haenel RS9[21] (as G29) Sniper-rifle Germany
Barrett M107A1 (as G82) Sniper-rifle United States
Heckler & Koch MG4K LMG Germany
Heckler & Koch MG5 A2 GPMG Germany
Remington 870 Express / MCS Shotgun United States
Heckler & Koch GLM Grenade-launcher Germany
Milkor AV-140 MSGL Revolver Grenade-launcher United States
Heckler & Koch GMG AGL Germany
DND RGW 60/90 MANPAT Germany
Stinger FIM-92J MANPADS United States
Rafael Spike-MR ATGM Israel
Pohl Force knife Combat-knife Germany Various models.

Eickhorn S.E.K. Marine knife (designed specifically for this unit)

Eickhorn knives, Various models


Name Type Origin Notes
MOWAG Eagle V Armored Patrol-vehicle Switzerland
KTM 640 LS-E Military Multi-purpose Enduro Austria
Wayland MkI 450 Commando Folding-kayak Poland

Special equipment[edit]

Name Type Origin Notes
Airborne-Systems MMS Tactical-parachute United Kingdom HAHO/HALO capable.
Airborne-Systems SOLR Mask HAHO/HALO Oxygen-mask United Kingdom
Airborne-Systems SOLR 4500 HAHO/HALO Oxygen-tank United Kingdom


  • 3M United States
    • Peltor Comtac XPI Dual Com NATO
  • Arc'teryx Canada
    • Fire-resistant Combat-clothing
    • All-weather clothing
    • Bagpacks
  • ArmorSource United States
    • AS-600 helmet (rifle-resistant)
  • Carinthia Austria
    • Military sleeping-bags
  • Crye Precision United States
    • Fire-resistant Combat-clothing
    • Plate-carriers
    • Kinetic support-systems
    • Bagpacks
    • Pouches
    • Belts
  • Dräger Germany
    • Rebreather (combat-diving)
  • FirstSpear United States
    • Plate-carriers (Combat-diving)
    • Flotation-systems
    • Bagpacks
    • Pouches
    • Belts
  • Harris United States
    • Falcon III RF-7850M-HH
    • Combat-electronics
  • Heinrichs Weikamp Germany
    • OSTC 4
    • Diving-electronics
  • JFD Scotland
    • Divex Stealth CDLSE
    • Divex Dual Mode Mask
    • Divex Low Magnetic Fins
  • L3-Insight United States
    • GPNVG-18
    • AN/PSQ-36 FGS
  • Leo Köhler Germany
    • Fire-resistant Combat-clothing
    • All-weather clothing
    • Plate-carriers
    • Bagpacks
  • MATBOCK United States
    • Parachuting-gear
    • Bagpacks
    • Medic-gear
  • Meindl Germany
    • All-weather Combat-boots
  • MEN Germany
    • Ammunition
  • Nivisys United States
    • DVS-110
  • Rheinmetall Germany
    • Ammunition
    • Combat-electronics
  • SeaBear Austria
    • HUDC
    • Diving-electronics
  • TEA United States
    • H2O U94 PTT
    • Sub Assault
    • OSK Maritime Kit
  • Team Wendy United States
    • Retention-Kits
    • Liner-Kits
    • ARC-Rails
  • UF PRO Slovenia
    • Fire-resistant Combat-clothing
    • All-weather clothing
  • Ursuit Finland
    • Combat-diving dry-suits
    • Combat-diving gear
  • W+R PRO Germany
    • Combat-gloves

(site under construction)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ German Navy Web site:Praktikum bei den Kampfschwimmern
  2. ^ Borovikov p.48
  3. ^ Borovikov p.48,49,50
  4. ^ Jung p.110
  5. ^ Jung p.115
  6. ^ Jung p.115
  7. ^ Jung p.128
  8. ^ Jung p.122
  9. ^ Borovikov p.45
  10. ^ p.136-138
  11. ^ Jung p.138
  12. ^ Jung P.132
  13. ^ Jung P.132
  14. ^ Jung P.132
  15. ^ Jung P.132
  16. ^ Jung P.132
  17. ^ Jung P.132
  18. ^ "1990s – KAMPFSCHWIMMER.DE". www.kampfschwimmer.de. Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  19. ^ "German Combat Divers Are Busy on Land and Underwater". 29 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-07-30. Retrieved 2017-12-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "STRATEGIE & TECHNIK: Aus Suhl an die Spezialkräfte: RS9 wird G29" (in German). 5 February 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Trojca, Waldemar (2002). German Armor and Special Units of WW2. Winnipeg: Fedorowicz. ISBN 0-921991-73-8.
  • Rudolph, Christin-Désirée (2014). Die Kampfschwimmer der Bundeswehr. Stuttgart: Motorbuch. ISBN 978-3-613-03647-5.
  • Probst, Wilhelm (2001). Kampfschwimmer der Bundesmarine: Innenansichten einer Elitetruppe. Stuttgart: Motorbuch. ISBN 3-613-02148-X.
  • Soviet Combat Divers in World War Two by Pavel Borovikov
  • German Combat Divers in World War Two by Michael Jung

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°28′34″N 9°51′49″E / 54.4762°N 9.8637°E / 54.4762; 9.8637