Coronado’s Naval Special Warfare Center made history on July 15th, 2021 as it welcomed its first woman. While her name has not been shared, as is common with military personnel, some in the Navy are speaking out about her. Rear Adm. H. W. Howard, commander, U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command, states “Becoming the first woman to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment, and we are incredibly proud of our teammate.”
This triumph is not the end, but the beginning. Next, the Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) will report to either a Special Boat Team or follow-on training. SWCCs are said to be experts in covert insertion and extraction, utilizing weapons, navigation, radio communication, first aid, engineering, parachuting and special operations tactics.
While many, especially in Coronado, are well aware of our SEAL population, SWCCs tend to be under the radar. “From shallow rivers to distant shores, the United States depends on an elite defense force known as Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen, or SWCC. You may have never heard of them, and that’s on purpose—their missions are the kind the Navy keeps quiet because of how vitally important they are. As the Sailors who insert and extract Navy SEALs from classified locations around the world, they are true warriors—highly trained, disciplined and distinguished. Their motto is ‘On Time, On Target, Never Quit,’ and they live up to every word.”
When asked if this was the first woman to attempt this role, Lt. Kara Handley shared, “No, 18 women have tried for SWCC or SB (Special Warfare Boat Operators). She was the first woman to make it.” Debunking the question of if the process was made easier for a woman, Lt. Handley says, “No, we have gender neutral qualifications.”
The Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Center is located on Coronado’s Naval Amphibious Base and provides initial assessment, selection and advanced training to the Sailors who make up the Navy’s SEAL and Special Boat communities. Graduates of any NSW assessment and selection pipeline have met the rigorous standards to enter their chosen profession, demonstrating they possess the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join the force. Historically, about 35 percent of SWCC candidates make it to graduation.