USCG Guardians make it through Navy SEALs "HELL WEEK"

Posted on 18 April 2009 by Ryan Erickson |

       The Coast Guards entrance into the Navy SEAL program continues! I got an update today that out “Boys in Blue” are still in the running to earn the coveted SEAL Trident. You’ll recall we last reported that four of Guardians were moving on to the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, or BUD/S, training which was to last four weeks. Well it’s time for an update, and I’m proud to say we still have three in the running. No names are given but the latest from USSOCOM NSWCEN reports
Four Coast Guard officers started the first phase of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, or BUD/S, training four weeks ago. One officer suffered an injury and has been rolled back to join a future class once he has recovered. One officer dropped upon request.

Though we’ve lost one to Hell Week I’m sure I’m not the first, nor the last, to extend my gratitude and a “good job” to all four of our Guardians who made it as far as they did. And according to Navy CDR Brian Sebenaler, Commanding Officer of the Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command,
“The Coast Guard Officers in class 276 have performed very well… Naval Special Warfare is pleased to have this opportunity to incorporate our fellow Maritime forces into the training pipeline. BUD/S training is some of the most physically and mentally demanding military training in the U.S., and it appears the USCG volunteers are doing very well. It will definitely be a life changing and momentous occasion when they graduate.”

I think what he meant to say it they’re doing great, but that may just be my biased opinion in the fact that they’re Coast Guard…

And RADM Atkin, Commanding Officer of the Deployable Operations Group, is also proud of his/our folks
“We’re extremely proud of all our guardians that volunteered to undertake this extremely difficult training,

And as a reminder the Coast Guard officers were the first to go through Navy SEAL training under the current agreement signed in July 2008 by the Coast Guard, Navy and Special Operations Command. This historic agreement allows Coast Guardsman the opportunity to train and integrate with an operational SEAL team for approximately seven years, yes (7), before returning to the Coast Guard.

The rhyme and reason for this agreement is to build cooperation in the joint maritime training environment and operationalize the National Maritime Strategy. I wonder if we get to teach them how to do Port State Control boardings?

We’ll continue to keep you apprised of their status as soon as we get more info! Make us proud!

LT James McLay, DOG Public Affairs and LTJG Frederick Martin, USSOCOM NSWCEN

Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 02:33 pm: 

Three Coastguardsmen Left in SEAL Quest 

August 06, 2009 | by Christian Lowe 

First there were 19 who were whittled down to 12. Then only five were left standing. 

Now, after one of the world's most crushing selection programs, only two remain - well, three, if you count the one who was rolled back into the initial phase of the school. 

For the first time in its storied history, the Coast Guard is on track to have two of its own earn the coveted trident badge of a Navy SEAL. The two officers have reached the third phase of initial SEAL selection after joining Basic Underwater Demolition School class 276 in March, enduring the grueling mental and physical travails that weed out all but the hardiest warriors. 

"I'm very proud of these guys," said Master Chief Petty Officer Darrick DeWitt, the senior enlisted advisor for the Coast Guard's Deployable Operations Group, which ran the selection process for the service. 

"We wanted to make sure we sent people with good character and good values. I think we did that," he added in a telephone interview with "These guys not only represented the Coast Guard well, but represented their country well." 

After a two-year effort to leverage the expertise of Naval Special Warfare and the Coast Guard's new role in homeland security and maritime special operations, the service selected its first group of Coastguardsmen to become commandos late last summer. 

Coast Guard officials say they hope the SEAL-trained Coasties will seed the rest of the force with valuable skills learned in special operations training and operations and bring back to their sea service a bit of the esprit de corps found in the commando ranks. 

For Naval Special Warfare, the pressure to grow its force makes an injection of well-vetted candidates to their ranks a boon, cutting out the hassle of dealing with recruits who don't have what it takes to become a SEAL. 

"We're just glad to get good candidates," said Lt. Commander Shane Reilly, the executive officer at the Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command in Coronado, Calif. "With the war going on, we're under a lot of pressure to increase [special operations forces] and we walk a fine line … without bending standards." 

After reviewing 19 applications back in August 2008, evaluators tapped 12 Coastguardsmen to run through a week-long selection process in Panama City, Fla., that included physical tests, mental evaluations and exercises that gave the wannabe frogmen a taste of what the legendary Basic Underwater Demolition School, or BUDS, is all about. 

The Coast Guard declined to provide any further details on the SEAL candidates' identities for security reasons. 

In the end, five made the cut, including four officers - a civil engineer, two cutter officers and one assigned to the district staff - and an enlisted man who serves as a boarding officer at a station in California. 

The enlisted Coastie washed out during the early part of the Navy's selection process when he came up just short on a physical qualification. 

"It surprised me," DeWitt said of the Coastie, and Reilly added that the man missed the standard by a "very small margin." 

"But, you know, they have tough standards," DeWitt said. "We'll see if he wants to come back for a second round." 

That left four officers who made it into what many believe is the most physically and mentally difficult assessment program in the world. Early morning beach runs, cold water sit ups, sand in every crevice for days, no food, no sleep … you get the picture. And all the while SEAL instructors are goading you to quit. 

And one did. 

During the toughest phase of BUDS, one of the four remaining Coasties rang the infamous bell that signaled his voluntary exit from the program, leaving three to complete the course. 

Later, another of the officers was injured during the assessment - a frequent cause of SEAL candidate drop outs - and was rolled back into a new class to start from the beginning of BUDS. 

Though having only three Coasties left in a program that originally sported nearly 20 qualified applicants represents an 85 percent attrition rate, neither Reilly nor DeWitt are concerned. 

"Our goal is not to just help out the Coast Guard, it's to help out the nation," DeWitt said. "If we can end up with three or two or one, and we can contribute in that way, then that's our goal." 

According to Coast Guard officials, only five Coastguardsmen have forwarded paperwork to try out for this year's class of wannabe SEALs. But the officials also point out that last year's applications came in late on the August deadline. 

DeWitt also said the service has relaxed a few of the application requirements, including dropping the mandate that prospective SEALs be qualified weapons experts since BUDS creates expert marksmen through its own training. 

By all accounts, the Navy and Coast Guard see this program as a worthwhile one that will continue for several more years. 

"It's a long road for them," Reilly said. "But when they do go out and join those teams, I'm sure they'll fit in just fine." 

Rick Woolard 
38 East, Teams 1966-96 
Freedom depends on responsibility