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First Class of New SWCC Rates Graduate
Story Number: NNS061117-11
Release Date: 11/17/2006 4:09:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel A. Barker, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- The first Special Warfare Combatant Craft (SWCC) class for the new rates of Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) and Special Warfare Operator (SO) graduated during a commencement ceremony at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado Nov. 9

The new ratings replace previous source ratings, which had been used to distinguish SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) and SWCC by job classifications, and will allow SEALs and SWCC to take advancement exams relating to their own rating.

All active-duty graduates of Basic Underwater Demolition School and Basic Crew Member School officially became SOs and SBs Oct. 1. The changes for Navy Reserve members who are E-5 and below are scheduled to take affect April 1, 2007.

Capt. Evin H. Thompson, commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 4, said during the graduation speech the 14-week course of specialized training included over 300 miles of running, 1,000 pull-ups, 420 hours of classroom instruction and numerous nights in San Diego Bay. Now the new graduates are ready for whatever deployment they may have.

“These Sailors and their crafts operate all over the globe in austere environments,” said Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator (SWCC) Sandy Sandness, who helped develop the course. “They are usually cold, they are wet, they are tired, and they are performing in miserable conditions. This training will prepare them for what they will face downrange.”

Sandness said it takes highly trained individuals to maintain the state-of-the-art, high-performance craft. These crafts are used in maritime special operations missions, such as coastal patrol and surveillance, and the boarding and searching of vessels suspected of smuggling contraband or terrorists.

"This is a basic taste of what it’s going to be like to operate in a special boat team in a naval special warfare environment,” said Sandness.

The Naval Special Warfare Center, which trains SEAL and SWCC candidates, is now an “A” school for SO and SB ratings. Students who graduate from the “A” school will advance to E-4 and receive the SO or SB rating.

For Special Warfare Combatant Craft 2nd Class (SWCC) Alex Sherlock, the most challenging aspect of the training was the long days and long nights, then waking up and doing it all over again.

“It was definitely worth it in the end though," said Sherlock. "I feel prepared for even the most challenging missions.”

“If you have the perseverance to push through, I think it’s a great field to be in,” said Special Warfare Boat Operator 3rd Class (SWCC) Luke Howardvesci. “It’s a long journey, but if you really want to do it, it’s something that you can do with the proper training and preparation."

For more news from around the fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/.