Submariners, SEALs, and Navy Divers
Bring Increased Capabilities to the Fleet

by Chief Petty Officer (SW/AW) Dave Fliesen, USN

When combatant commanders need the latest intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) – and they need it now – they turn to the Navy’s “underwater team.” Consisting of elements from three different Navy warfare specialties (SEALS, divers, and submarines), the underwater team is able to leverage their unique capabilities and expertise and provide a boots on the ground – or in some cases “fins in the water” – presence that is required in today’s modern security environment.

One of these “underwater teams”, comprised of the fast attack submarine USS Dallas (SSN-700) and members of SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team 2 recently conducted special warfare exercises.

Photo caption follows.

(above) Members of SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team TWO prepare to launch on a training exercise from the deck of the submarine USS Philadelphia (SSN-690). The SDVs are used to transport Navy SEALs from their submerged host submarine to targets while remaining underwater and undetected.






(right) An SDV is loaded aboard USS Dallas (SSN-700). A Dry Deck Shelter (DDS) is attached to the submarine’s rear escape trunk to provide a dry environment for Navy SEALs to prepare for special warfare exercises or operations.

Taking their name from the elements in which they operate (Sea, Air, and Land), Navy SEALs conduct training from submarines to increase their proficiency for operating covertly in the littorals. Submarine Dry Deck Shelter (DDS) training is by far the most complex underwater exercise that Naval Special Warfare (NSW) conducts – with success relying on a synchronized effort between the host
submarine crew and NSW operators (SEALs and the Navy divers operating the DDS). During this SPECWAR exercise, NSW operators learned and practiced procedures for launch and recovery from the submarine, which is required for the team's deployment as an operational unit.

Dallas is one of five submarines specially modified to host the DDS which acts as an open ocean interface to house either a SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) or a complement of combat rubber raiding craft. The DDS can be used to transport and launch an SDV or to “lock out” combat swimmers. With the SDV, SEALs can travel underwater several miles to reach an objective area.


A tactical force with strategic impact, Navy SEALs perform a number of missions: unconventional warfare, direct action, combating terrorism, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, information warfare, security assistance, counter-drug operations, personnel recovery and hydrographic reconnaissance. SEALs also provide real time intelligence and “eyes on target” which offer decision-makers immediate and virtually unlimited options in the face of rapidly changing crises around the world.

With stealth and clandestine methods of operation, SEALs are capable of conducting multiple missions against targets that larger forces couldn’t approach undetected. Those missions take teamwork which is, of course, something critical in accomplishing any mission.

SEALs work with the same platoon of divers throughout their workups which allows for seamless integration with DDS divers.

The complex evolution epitomizes the term “teamwork,” requiring the embarked NSW task unit and the submarine crew to integrate seamlessly to safely execute operations. Each unit has their specific role to support the DDS evolution. The submarine ship control party provides a stable platform for the diver and SEALs to conduct the SDV launch and recovery operations submerged. The end state of the training exercise is a finely tuned “team” that can conduct submarine-DDS operations overseas in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

Photo of a member of a Seal Delivery Team underwater.

Underwater Teamwork Next Page>>


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