Defense Media Network

Naval Special Warfare Group 3 (NSWG-3) Prepares for an Underwater Future

Another representative example of the dynamic changes taking place within the NSW community can be found in the reorganization of Naval Special Warfare Group 3 (NSWG-3) and the other ongoing changes within the NSW “Undersea Enterprise.”

As formerly organized, NSWG-3, the headquarters, was located in Coronado, Calif. Its subordinate SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 (SDVT-1) and SDVT-2 were located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Little Creek, Va., respectively. In addition, the SDV Training Detachment was located in Panama City, Fla.

Command leadership recognized that the geographically dispersed location of a limited number of unique assets (one team each on the East and West coasts and the schoolhouse in Florida) caused inefficiencies in planning and execution, including possible “loss on insight” from the physical separation. Another complication stemmed from the fact that excess SEAL capacity in the two SDV Teams was routinely deployed to support non-SDV Global War on Terrorism missions, thus disrupting their primary undersea mission and giving them less time to train for their mission.

In an effort to better position and employ NSW’s unique undersea capabilities to meet global needs today and tomorrow, the community convened an Undersea Enterprise Review Team (USERT) to study the situation and make recommendations for change.

According to “Scott,” an NSWG-3 operator who was involved in the 2008 reorganization process, a more optimized NSW underwater structure was identified through the USERT process; one that pointed to the benefits of consolidating all of those activities “under one roof.”

“Pete,” another NSWG-3 operator involved in the process, explained the team “reviewed the East Coast and SDVT-2, as far as what they had to offer and proximity to Washington, D.C., range availability, training availability, and asset availability. We also did that with Hawaii and we also took a look at San Diego. Taking all that into account, Hawaii turned out to be the best suited location to move ‘The Enterprise’ to.”

“We spent a couple weeks going through the data and analyzing it before we came up with that result,” echoed Scott. “Bottom line: It was all fairly tight but Hawaii edged out the other locations.”

The USERT analysis was completed in mid-July 2008.

“It’s a ‘win/win’ for everybody,” Pete added. “The [NSWG-3] consolidation at the chosen location, which is Hawaii, will include the new training detachment, the schoolhouse, and the rest of the undersea operators, which incorporates SDVT-1 and SDVT-2 operators. And the reason I say it’s a win/win is because now we are all under one umbrella. Prior to this you had the Group [NSWG-3 headquarters] here on the West Coast. You had a SEAL Team hours away in Hawaii. And you had another SEAL Team hours away on the East Coast. So continuity was one of the biggest problems we had. We took care of that by putting everything under one command. Now, if you talk about the experience level, you have the experience level of SDVT-2 added on to the experience level of SDVT-1. Moreover, since the two commands were spread so far apart before, it was hard to have all the same standard operating procedures and identical methods for conducting specific missions. Bringing everybody together has everybody singing off the same sheet of music, both operationally and tactically.”

The consolidation provided additional benefits throughout the NSW community in terms of undersea gear and equipment as well as personnel.

“Since we received some members from SDVT-2 to Hawaii, there were still SEALs out there who were not part of the consolidation,” noted Scott. “So those SEALs now are being transferred over to the squadrons. So the squadrons are not only receiving operational and tactical equipment, but they are also receiving operators to go ahead and assist them, or get rolled into their squadrons.”

This story was first published in The Year in Special Operations: 2009 Edition.


Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...