Special Boat Team TWENTY-TWO
Worldwide Special Operations Riverine Force
GMCS Clark Gertner
Special Boat Team TWENTY-TWO (SBT-22) is the direct
descendent of Coastal River Division TWENTY-TWO, which was
commissioned on December 16, 1972. CRD-22 was located at
Point Algiers, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River,
and was situated across the river from New Orleans’ famed
In March 1979, the name was changed to
Special Boat Unit TWENTY-TWO, as part of a community-wide
realignment to reflect the community’s evolved mission
within the Special Warfare community. In 1998, the unit was
moved to the John C. Stennis Space Center, about 45 miles
north-east of New Orleans.
Their new digs were somewhat less than luxurious, being
housed in trailers situated in the parking lot of a hand
grenade factory. Like all self-respecting SPECWAR
facilities, though, it had a well equipped gym, located in a
corner of the hand grenade factory. The location, however,
was ideal for riverine operations. The Space Center is
situated directly on the Pearl River, which connects with
the Middle and West Pearls and, eventually, with Lake
Ponchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico. The down-side
was that the Boat Unit headquarters was located several
miles away from the river and from its own repair and
maintenance facilities. Riverine Task Units had offices in
a berthing barge, which was tied up on a spur of the Pearl
River, near the maintenance yard. The Armory was located a
similar distance in the opposite direction. This may not
sound very efficient, but it was actually a huge step up
from the old Point Algiers location on the very wide, busy,
and swiftly moving Mississippi River.
In 2002, SBU-22 moved into its magnificent
new headquarters, with direct access to the Pearl River.
The new compound consists of:
Headquarters building with Administrative
offices, medical facility, and gymnasium
Armory / Task Unit building with Task Unit
Offices, Isolation Facility, gymnasium, and language lab
Two Maintenance buildings and storage /
Olympic class “Combat Training Tank”. The
CCT did take some of the excitement out of swim training,
though, as there are none of the alligators that accompanied
SBT personnel on swims in the Pearl River
In 2003, a Riverfront Facility was added to
house visiting units and Task Units involved in exercises
In October 2002, under the SPECWAR
reorganization dubbed “NSW-21”, the community was again
realigned. SBU-22 became SBT-22 and its parent command,
Naval Special Boat Squadron Two (an Echelon TWO command)
became Naval Special Warfare Group Four. Additionally, the
NSW community was folded into the Special Operations
The new SBT-22 facility was built to
withstand a Category 5 hurricane and Hurricane Katrina, in
2005, thoroughly tested the design and construction. There
was significant wind damage and flooding throughout
Mississippi and Louisiana, with the Gulf Coast virtually
obliterated from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama (far greater
and more widespread damage than the highly publicized
flooding in New Orleans). SBT-22 survived and the facility
was pressed into service to house the families of Team
members, some for as long as 3 months after the storm.
SBT-22 was tasked with Humanitarian Assistance Missions
throughout the Pearl River area and as far south as New
Orleans. Because the active duty component of SBT-22 was
committed to other world-wide taskings, their Selected
Reserve (SELRES) component conducted much of the
humanitarian assistance and back-filled other jobs at the
CRD-22/SBU-22/SBT-22 was directly augmented
by a SELRES unit, Detachment Alpha, which was co-located
with the active duty command at Point Algiers and, later, at
the Stennis Space Center. On the west coast, another SELRES
unit was co-located with CRD-XI/SBU-XI at the Mare Island
Naval Shipyard and, later at the Navy and Marine Corps
Reserve Center, Sacramento (now named the Navy Operational
Support Center, Sacramento). After SBU-XI was
disestablished, SBU-22 provided administrative, logistics,
and training support to the SELRES at both locations.
In September, 1997 SBU-XI was disestablished
on Mare Island and a hand-picked cadre of SELRES moved to
Sacramento to establish SBU-22, Detachment 122. In October,
2002, under NSW-21, the two SELRES units were detached from
SBU-22, which then was renamed SBT-22, and placed under
Operational Support Team Two (OST-2), which is a component
command of Operational Support Group (OSG). OSG is a
component of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) and is
located on Coronado Island, California. Under NAVSPECWARCOM,
the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and Operations
Officer of all Special Boat Teams are required to be SEALs.
Under NSW-21, the SELRES units became Naval
Reserve Special Boat Team-Riverine/Training and Operations,
Detachment Stennis and Detachment Sacramento, and they
continue to augment SBT-22, as the World-wide Special
Operations Riverine Force, conducting or supporting GWOT
missions in all four theaters, including Operations Iraqi
Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Recently, Riv T&O Det Sac
combined with a SEAL Reserve Detachment to become Naval
Reserve Special Warfare Unit One.
Prepare Riverine Task Units to conduct special operations in
a riverine environment anywhere in the world. Be prepared
to support Naval Special Warfare employment in their War
Plans and contingencies and the National Mission Units in
Develop operational employment concepts for
riverine Special Operations and train Special Operations
Forces on how to employ those concepts.
SCOPE OF ENVIRONMENT:
SBT-22 is the U.S. Navy’s sole Riverine Warfare command and,
as such, is tasked with conducting all Riverine Warfare
missions, anywhere in the world that may take them and it
has taken them pretty much everywhere in the world.
The world has over 900,000 rivers, with 224
major river basins. Of these, over 50 are more than 1,000
miles long and 298 are over 500 miles long. The world’s
major river systems have over 465,100 miles of commercial
inland waterways and play a significant role in supporting
human occupancy of the planet. Besides being a source of
water for all human needs, they are a primary food source
and facilitate the movement of goods and people. In many
parts of the world, they are the primary means to do so.
Militarily, they offer a means of dividing a country into
controllable areas and of regulating the movement of people
and goods. It is easy to see how crucial it is for the U.S.
to maintain a Riverine Warfare capability.
SBT-22 trains to control the riverine
environment through insertion/extraction of other Special
Operations Forces, as well as through Direct Action
Assaults, Gunfire Support / Targeting, Ambush / Blocking
Force, and Interdiction Operations. Other missions include
Reconnaissance and Surveillance, such as Waterborne
Guardpost and ”Tipper” Ops, as well as Combat Search and
Rescue / Personnel Recovery and Noncombatant Evacuation.
The Boat Team is organized into Task Units (TU),
with each TU consisting of two Detachments and each
detachment having two assigned boats, crews, and Maintenance
/ Support Team (MST) personnel. By design, a TU is
trained/deployed in a 2 year cycle (as shown below) however,
operational commitments and personnel issues may extend the
deployment phase and shorten or eliminate the Professional
Detachment Training Phase. This is when a TU Commander is
designated, the TU personnel are assigned to him, and the TU
is actually “Stood-up”. Boats and all necessary gear are
issued and the TU begins to train as a Team. Although
personnel are assigned primary, secondary and, sometimes
tertiary positions within the Boat Crew, Detachment, and
Task Unit, Team members are cross-trained on each other’s
jobs, so that any Team member can jump in to take over for a
downed Team member. After work-up, if an emerging tasking
required it, a TU could actually deploy on a real world
mission, although ideally, they would not deploy until 3rd
Special Interoperability Training (SIT) Phase. This used to
be called SEAL Interoperability Training but the name was
changed because TUs work with more than just SEAL Teams.
The concept behind SIT is for Boat Teams and SPECOPS units
(both U.S. and foreign) to learn to work together. During
this phase, the Boat Teams also work with Helicopter (Helo)
units to hone their Maritime External Air Transport (MEATS)
skills. MEATS is a method of inserting a Riverine Craft
into an OP Area by transporting it to the area with a Helo,
thereby greatly extending the operational range of the craft
and the speed with which a craft can be inserted into a hot
Deployment (DEP) Phase. During this phase, the TU is
deployed to all corners of the globe, often with each Det
deployed to a different AO. When this occurs, the Det OIC
(usually a Chief or Senior Chief) actually functions like a
TU Commander. Deployments may be “real world” or
Professional Development (PRODEV) Phase. This phase occurs
after the TU is actually “Stood-down”. The TU Commander
turns over all gear and boats to Supply and Maintenance, and
the personnel go off to various schools, such as Army Basic
Airborne or Free Fall, language, shooting schools, etc.
After each member’s school phase, they return to the Team
for re-assignment to a TU or perhaps to the Training or
RIVER DIVISION TWENTY-TWO
CDR R. D.
Dec 72 – Aug
CDR R. P.
Aug 74 – Nov
CDR J. C.
Nov 77 – Mar
BOAT UNIT TWENTY-TWO
CDR J. C.
Mar 79 – Aug
CDR W. R.
Aug 79 – Aug
CDR G. W.
YEEND, JR, USNR
Aug 81 – May
CDR S. P.
May 82 – Jun
CDR J. G.
Jun 84 – Jul
CDR W. H.
Jul 85 – Sep
CDR G, J.
Sep 87 – Sep
CDR R. L.
Sep 89 – Sep
CDR J. D.
Sep 91 – Aug
CDR C. J.
Aug 93 – Aug
CDR T. W.
Aug 95 – Aug
CDR R. W.
Aug 97 – Aug
CDR B. G.
Aug 00 – Jul
Jul 02 – Oct
BOAT TEAM TWENTY-TWO
Oct 02 – Jul
CDR S. P.
GRZESZCZAK, III, USN
Jul 04 – Sep
CDR JAMES A.
Sep 06 -
For SBT-22, the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001 set into motion a series of events that
lead to the first combat employment of Riverine Forces since
Vietnam and the first combat employment of the Special
Operations Craft-Riverine (SOC-R). SBT-22 played a
significant role in the opening days of the Gulf War,
securing oil platforms and restricting access to the Shat Al
Arab, where the Tigress and Euphrates Rivers enter the
Arabian Gulf, and continues to be a major player in the
Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). Additionally, SBT-22
conducted the first-ever riverine craft launched UAV
missions in Iraq.
Other significant achievements for SBT-22
First riverine support mission for the
President of the U.S. during his visit to Thailand for APEC.
Conducted riverine operations in all 4
theaters, including operations in 3 theaters simultaneously.
Conducted over 30 missions in 9 countries,
most to locations where riverine forces had never before
First exercise of OPLAN 5027 riverine
requirements during Operation Foal Eagle in Korea.
Forward staged SOC-Rs and PBLs in CENTCOM,
PACOM, and SOUTHCOM.
Conducted over 6 weeks of Humanitarian
Assistance Operations along the Andaman Sea coast of The
Kingdom Of Thailand after the devastating tsunami of 2004.
TRAINING, QUALIFICATION, AND A LOOK INTO THE
SBT-22 continues to train and deploy throughout the U.S. and
the world, preparing for any contingency. They conduct
Counter Narco-Terrorism Missions to SOUTHCOM and PACOM as
well as Joint and Combined Interoperability Training with
the world’s Special Missions Forces. SBT-22 Riverine Task
Units deploy to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and other
locations, to conduct Maritime External Air Transport System
(MEATS) training, which includes Fast Rope training. They
also deploy to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to conduct live-fire
training on the Salt River and convoy training at the very
cutting-edge MOUT facility. They will soon be able to
conduct live-fire training on the recently acquired 5,120
acre water-to-land and jungle range in the Pearl River area
and have plans to construct a MOUT Facility on Stennis Space
Center. In addition to the above, Boat Team operators are
also static-line and Free-fall parachute qualified. They
also attend both civilian and military shooting schools, the
Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California, and a
variety of Navy and other-service schools.
Currently, there are no on-base berthing
facilities for team members and their families, with all
personnel living on the local economy. However, approval
has been received to build an apartment-style barracks
compound off-base, near the Space Center.
If you are considering a career in the Military, there is no
more rewarding or challenging profession than Naval Special
Warfare. Whether you chose to go SEAL or SWCC, the skills
you learn and the personal bonds you form will follow you
the rest of your life. Chances are that you will get to see
nearly all of the world, be exposed to a wide variety of
cultures and languages, and will become proficient with
equipment that most people, even those in other parts of the
military, only read about or see in the movies.