Naval Special Warfare Group 3

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U.S. Navy Special Warfare Group 3
Country United States of America
Branch United States Navy
TypeSpecial operations force
SEa, Air, Land
Size667 personnel authorized:[1]
  • 620 military personnel
  • 47 civilian personnel
Part ofUnited States Special Operations Command Insignia.svg United States Special Operations Command
US NSWC insignia.jpg United States Naval Special Warfare Command
Garrison/HQNaval Amphibious Base Coronado
Motto(s)"The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday"
"It Pays to be a Winner"
"There is no 'I' in TEAM"
EngagementsOperation Just Cause
Operation Desert Storm

Operation Enduring Freedom

Operation Iraqi Freedom
P. Gardner Howe, III

Naval Special Warfare Group 3 (NSWG-3), based at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in California, is one of six constituent formations of the United States Naval Special Warfare Command.[2] Until 2008, NSWG-3 was composed of two SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams: SDVT-1 in Pearl Harbor and SDVT-2 in Little Creek. In 2008, SDVT-2 was disestablished and merged into SDVT-1, which is now headquartered in Pearl Harbor and operates detachments in Pearl Harbor and Little Creek. SDV Teams are SEAL teams with an added underwater delivery capability. SDVT-2 was reactivated on 8 March 2019.[3]

Naval Special Warfare Group 3 Introduction:[edit]

Naval Special Warfare Group 3 is one of the principal groups responsible for the organization’s leadership and deployment of United States Navy SEALs. The word SEALs is an acronym that stands for SEa, Air, and Land. This is named for the principal domains of operation that SEALs operate in. As the United States Navy’s primary special operations force it is imperative that they are highly functional in any terrain as they carry out the unconventional warfare missions that they are tasked with. There are many elements of Naval Special Warfare Group 3 that prove to be pivotal to the security of the United States. Such facets of Naval Special Warfare Group 3 include training, technology, and allies.


One aspect of Naval Special Warfare Group 3 that is of importance include the continuous training regimen and upkeep of skills and abilities of the Navy SEALs; as stated in[4], from the first day of the SEAL pipeline it usually takes about a year and a half of intensive training before a SEAL is ready to report to a SEAL Team ([4]. According to William Cole[5] of the Honolulu Star Naval Special Warfare has decided to triple the amount of SEAL training in the Hawaiian Islands (Cole)[5]. This is an important development in the Naval Special Warfare community as it shows a shift in focus for future training. This also shows how the command within Naval Special Warfare Group 3 may be training for a domain different from that of recent history (Iraq, Afghanistan). As stated by Carl Schuster in Cole’s article[5], “after sixteen years of focusing predominantly on the terrain of Iraq and Afghanistan, they are expanding their training to be ready for other, more varied environments to be prepared for the missions to come” (Cole)[5]. This point also leads to the transition of the entire U.S. Navy and its future plans with the help of Naval Special Warfare Group 3. As stated in Running Silent and Algorithmic: The U.S. Navy Strategic Vision in 2019[6], there is a “strategic change to a ‘balance of power’ approach to deterrence should mean a tilt towards the Navy’s traditional missions” as well as how “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security” (Running Silent and Algorithmic)[6]. Returning to the Hawaiian Islands, the prime location of the Islands offers SEALs the ability to conduct a multitude of training operations which include but are not limited to “scuba diving and launching and recovering submersibles, while land-based training would include transiting over the beach on foot and parachute insertions” (Cole)[5]. Being that one of the primary components of Naval Special Warfare Group 3 is the ability to transit from water to land, the Hawaiian Islands also support the Navy’s use of high tech equipment. This high tech equipment includes open water submersibles that resemble a small submarine that is solely used for the transportation of SEALs over distances that are too far to swim and unreachable by the Navy submarines that these submersibles were launched from (Cole)[5].


Another key component to Naval Special Warfare Group 3 is their use of SEAL Delivery Vehicles and subsequent SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams. According to Stavros Atlamazoglou of SOFREP[7], the Naval Special Warfare Command has decided to reactivate SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 (SDVT-2) stationed on the East Coast (Atlamazoglou)[7]. This team is composed of highly trained SEALs just like any other SEAL Team but have been trained. SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams offer the Naval Special Warfare Community a unique opportunity to approach a designated target with minimal detection being that the submersibles used by these SEALs are avoidable by most underwater detection systems (Atlamazoglou)[7]. Although with their own logistical problems including having to stay within range to their host submarine, having minimal space for SEALs and additional equipment, or being fairly limited in speed and maneuverability especially in harsher currents, these vehicles are a high tech form of transportation exclusive to Naval Special Warfare Command (Atlamazoglou)[7].


Another major importance for Naval Special Warfare Group 3 includes relationships with other special forces groups. Naval Special Warfare is at the forefront of training and dominance over all terrains operators can be involved in, with an emphasis on the Ocean. With that being said, it could be very beneficial for the United States to use Naval Special Warfare to train up other nations’ special forces. According to Targeted News Service[8], this has been done over the past several years and includes countries such as Brazil, Panama, Columbia, and Peru (Targeted News Service)[8]. This joint nation special forces training took place during the PANAMAX multi-nation training operation; this training was conducted in order to practice real-world scenarios that may arise and must be contained by our allied partners (Targeted News Service)[8]. With the help of Naval Special Warfare Group 3 and subsequent SEAL and SWCC (Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman) operators, the PANAMAX was able to effectively train up the allies of the United States and ensure they are prepared for a potential attack on the Panama Canal (Targeted News Service)[8].


SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One (SDVT-1) is commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5). The table of equipment for the unit includes three operational SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV) and a Dry Deck Shelter (DDS). The normal table of organization includes three task units and a headquarters element. Each SDV Task Unit operates independently from a host submarine in the conduct of Naval Special Warfare missions. SDV Task Units typically deploy aboard host submarines, but may be deployed from shore or surface ships. The 40 man SDV Task Units are formed of a Headquarters element and 2 platoons of 16 men, comprising 11 SEALs, 1 dive medical technician, and 4 fleet support maintenance technicians.[9] SDVT-1 conducts operations throughout the Pacific Command's and Central Command's geographic areas of responsibility.[10] SDVT-1 was initially headquartered in Coronado, California before being moved to Pearl Harbor in 1994.[11]


SDVT-2 is a team of Navy divers, SEALs, and SDV technicians based in Little Creek, Virginia and commanded by a Commander (O-5).[3] It gives the Navy's SEAL Delivery Vehicles a base for operations on the East Coast and in Europe.[3] SDVT-2 was disestablished on 8 August 2008.[12] SDVT-2 was merged into SDVT-1, although the Navy continued to operate a small Dry Deck Shelter establishment at Little Creek, albeit under the command of SDVT-1.[11] It was reactivated on 8 March 2019.[3]


NSWG-3 is the organization tasked with developing expertise in deploying Naval Special Warfare assets from submarines. Current non-classified methods of deployment include the SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) from Dry Deck Shelters on submarines. The Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) was also used before its cancellation. the SDV is planned to be replaced by the Shallow Water Combat Submersible in 2019, and the ASDS will be replaced with the Dry Combat Submersible.[13]


The SDV program dates back to World War II, when various sleds and vehicles developed for use by the Underwater Demolition Teams. After the war, development continued in a garage-shop fashion by various UDT units, and included various "Marks" as the MK V, VII, VII, and XII. Intermediate numbers were assigned to some vehicles that never left the shop floor. All were of flooded design.[14]

The wet vehicle SDV program (officially named the Swimmer Delivery Vehicle, sometimes erroneously designated as the SEAL Delivery Vehicle after the Swimmer Delivery Vehicle Teams were renamed SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams) currently centers on the MK VIII MOD 1, was first established in 1975 for use among UDT/SEAL teams. The early MK8 MOD 0 SDVs had a PRC104 UHF ultra high frequency radio for use underway. The newer model MK8 MOD1 has a dual sliding canopy and quick release hatch.[14]


  1. ^ SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES: Opportunities Exist to Improve Transparency of Funding and Assess Potential to Lessen Some Deployments (PDF) (Report). Government Accountability Office. July 2015. p. 46. GAO-15-571.
  2. ^ "Headquarters: COMNAVSPECWARCOM". Official US Navy SOC website. Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Faram, Mark D. (25 February 2019). "SEALs revive stealthy submarine delivery team in Virginia". Navy Times. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b Center, Navy SEAL + SWCC Scout Team, Naval Special Warfare. "SEALSWCC.COM". SEALSWCC.COM. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  5. ^ a b c d e f, By William Cole; Nov. 13, 2018 (2018-11-14). "Navy proposes tripling amount of SEAL training in Hawaiian Islands". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2020-04-20.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b Tangredi, Sam (2019). Running Silent and Algorithmic: The U.S. Navy Strategic Vision in 2019. Naval War College Review. p. 6.
  7. ^ a b c d "Naval Special Warfare reactivates stealthy SEAL unit on the East Coast". SOFREP. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  8. ^ a b c d Clark, Joseph. "Naval special warfare trains with elite south american units in PANAMAX 2010". Targeted News Service.
  9. ^ "SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams". American Special Ops. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  10. ^ "SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE (SDVT-1)". Special Operations. 2000. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  11. ^ a b NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE (PDF) (Report). Naval Special Warfare Center. May 2013. NWP 3-05. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  12. ^ "SDVT-2 Disestablishment-Help Needed!". 5 December 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  13. ^ Burgess, Richard (October 2018). "New Seahorses For The Seals". Seapower. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  14. ^ a b Introduction to Naval Special Warfare Archived 2008-01-16 at the Wayback Machine