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Today's U.S. Navy SEALs acknowledge the tremendous work of earlier Navy units dating back to World War II. Their pioneering efforts and contributions to the development of maritime capabilities are mirrored in the missions and professionalism of present-day Naval Special Warfare forces.
AMPHIBIOUS SCOUTS AND RAIDERS (Joint)
Formed at ATB Little Creek, VA. With Army and Navy personnel, commanded by Army 1st Lt. Lloyd Peddicord and Executive Officer Navy Ens, John Bell, they trained for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of World War ll at North Africa, November 1942. Four months later, Scouts and Raiders’ school formed at Ft. Pierce, FL.
OFFICE OF STRATEGIC AFFAIRS (OSS) SPECIAL DIVING UNIT/MARITIME UNIT
A Maritime section is established with the Special Operations Branch of the OSS, responsible for the planning of covert infiltration operations from sea. On June 10, they were reorganized as the OSS Maritime Unit with branch status.
Preliminary training was conducted at the OSS West Coast Training Center at Camp Pendleton, CA and Catalina Island, off the Southern California coast.
NAVAL COMBAT DEMOLITION UNITS (NCDUs)
Adm. Ernest J. King, commander-in-chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, ordered the establishment of “Naval Demolition Units” together with a permanent training program.
Training began at the Amphibious Training Base (ATB), Solomons, Maryland, but was moved to Ft. Pierce, Fla. on June 6, 1943, under LCDR Draper Kauffman. The Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) began with many volunteer Seabees, and other branches of the military, who trained alongside the Scouts and Raiders.
LCDR Kaufman started “Hell Week” the intensive training program that evolved into the present-day Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL(BUD/S) training classes.
The NCDUs were small, six man teams consisting of one officer and five sailors. They specialized in explosives and underwater obstacles for amphibious operations.
SPECIAL SERVICE UNIT 1 (SSU-1)
The SSU-1 was established in the Pacific on July 13, 1943. SSU-1 was a joint and combined international force with personnel from Australia and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Their operations, actions, and activities began in September 1943 at Finschhafen, New Guinea, where they conducted near-shore and inland reconnaissance operations.
SEPT. 1943. The First NCDU class graduated.
UNDERWATER DEMOLITION TEAMS (UDTs)
Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander-in-chief, U,S. Pacific Fleet expressed concerns over tide and reef obstacles. He directed his officers to investigate formation of a beach reconnaissance and demolition unit. The landing at Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands on November 22, validated these concerns. A submerged reef caused amphibious landing craft to founder far offshore, resulting in the loss of hundreds of Marines and over 3,000 casualties.
Adm. Kelly Turner acted immediately. He recognized the need for good intelligence and beach clearance for amphibious operations. He ordered men who were based in Waimanalo, on Oahu, Hawaii, to form the core of a new reconnaissance and demolition training program. As a result, nine teams were assembled and became the first Underwater Demolition Teams.
Most of the men were Seabees but they came from the Marines and Army as well.
Thirty-four NCDUs combined with U.S. Army Engineers form gap assault teams to clear obstacles at Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy, France. 37 NCDU men were killed and 71 wounded, making this the heaviest casualties of NSW history. NCDUs at Omaha Beach receive the presidential Unit Citation, and NCDUs at Utah Beach receive the Navy Unit Commendation.
34 UDTs teams were established and saw action across the Pacific in every major amphibious landing, including Eniwetok, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Angaur, Ulithi, Peleliu, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, Zambales, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Labuan, Brunei Bay.
4 July 1945, at Balikpapan on Borneo was the last UDT demolition operation of the war.
June 1945, arrangements were being made to send the existing 28 UDTs to ATB Oceanside, California, for a month-long period of cold-water training in preparation for the Japan invasion. The training was abruptly curtailed after President Harry S. Truman ordered nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, Japan, on 6 August 1945, and Nagasaki, Japan, on 9 August.