A female sailor, for the first time, has completed a “grueling 37-week training course” to become a U.S. Navy special warfare boat operator.
The woman, who won’t be publicly identified per routine military policy for special operations forces, according to Navy officials, was one of 17 sailors to graduate and receive their pins Thursday. She is the first of 18 women who have tried out to become a special warfare combatant-craft crewman (SWCC) or a SEAL to successfully complete the training; only about 35% of the men and women who begin training for SWCC are able to graduate, according to the Navy.
“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,” Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander of Naval Special Warfare, said in a Navy statement. “Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join our force.”
Training to become a combatant-craft crewman follows a recruit boot camp and includes the following: A two-month preparatory course, a three-week orientation at the Naval Special Warfare Center in California and seven weeks of learning basic navigation and water skills, as well as physical conditioning and safety.
The final hurdle: A three-day crucible called “The Tour,” a physical endurance test that many candidates often fail.
The woman’s achievement is a watershed moment for women’s progress in the military; it was only five years ago that all combat posts were opened to women. She will now head to one of Naval Special Warfare’s three special boat teams.
“She and her fellow graduates have the opportunity to become experts in clandestine special operations, as well as manned and unmanned platforms to deliver distinctive capabilities to our Navy, and the joint force in defense of the nation,” Howard said.
Contributing: The Associated Press