The U.S. Navy's Sea, Air, Land teams, or SEALs, are just about the best known of Americans elite special operations forces. But when it comes to pictures and videos of the largely secret world of the teams training or out in the field conducting actual operations, there is an even more limited number of them that show off their "sea" capabilities and few high-resolution examples of them actually conducting activities underwater. So, we're very lucky to have just gotten a new spread of official photographs of a pair of SEALs from Naval Special Warfare Group Two, or NSWG-2, during dive operations training on the East Coast of the United States.
The Navy posted the pictures online on May 29, 2019. They're broken into two very distinct sets, one showing the SEALs rising out of the water onto a beach while the others have them swimming underwater, including under an unspecified vessel. The location given is just "Atlantic Ocean" and each one has the same lengthy caption, which is as follows:
A member assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 conducts military dive operations of the East Coast of the United States. U.S. Navy SEALs engage in a continuous training cycle to improve and further specialize skills needed during deployments across the globe. SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct missions from sea, air, and land. Naval Special Warfare (NSW) has more than 1,000 special operators and support personnel deployed to more than 35 countries, addressing security threats, assuring partners and strengthening alliances while supporting Joint and combined campaigns. NSW’s ability to understand the operational landscape, adapt quickly and evolve capacity, capabilities and concepts based on operational requirements is one of our great strengths. NSW forces are trained to conduct primary direct action and special reconnaissance core activities and as well as to build partner capacity in or out of the maritime environment in order to support the U.S. Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command, geographic combat commanders and ultimately, national objectives across a full range of political and operational environments.
There's essentially no detail about the nature of the training exercise. The beach photographs do show the SEALs wearing camouflage wetsuits and closed circuit scuba gear with rebreathers. These are essential for SEAL underwater operations since they work more efficiently than more basic systems and recycle unused breathing gas, allowing divers to stay beneath the waves for much longer periods. The closed system also typically circulates that air at warmer temperatures and more normal pressures, making the experience closer to normal breathing, which helps reduce fatigue.
The closed circuit system also means that they're not leaving a trail of tell-tale bubbles as they breathe underwater, which could compromise their position as they sneak up on a boat or toward a beach. SEALs train to perform a variety of direct action raid and reconnaissance missions that could involve transiting underwater to and from ships and submarines.
In the shots of them on land, they're also armed with heavily modified M4A1 carbines with EOTech XPS-series holographic sights and muzzle devices that could accept a quick detach sound suppressor. In one of the pictures, one of the rifles has a flashlight attached to the side of the carbine's accessory rail handguard.
The underwater shots do not involve any weapons and take on an otherworldly appearance in many cases. One shows a SEAL taking a hammer to the bottom of a boat, potentially simulating the removal of some sort of debris. SEALs, who are themselves the successor to the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams, regularly train to both conduct covert attacks on ships and other maritime targets, including through the placement of limpet mines and other explosive charges, as well as explosive ordnance disposal duties. This latter mission could include clearing threats underwater, as well as on beaches ahead of larger amphibious operations.
Even with such limited details about the circumstances surrounding the photos, they offer an excellent look at the kind of missions SEALs are prepared to perform anywhere in the world on short notice. You'll note one of the underwater shots shows a SEAL wearing a GoPro style camera, too.
Maybe we can expect the Navy to release some excellent video footage to go along with these images in the near future.
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