Open main menu

Naval Special Warfare Command (Thailand)

  (Redirected from Underwater Demolition Assault Unit)

The Naval Special Warfare Command, Royal Thai Fleet[3] (Thai: หน่วยบัญชาการสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ กองเรือยุทธการ), commonly known as the Royal Thai Navy SEALs[1] (an acronym for Sea–Air–Land),[3] is the special operations force of the Royal Thai Navy.

Naval Special Warfare Command,
Royal Thai Fleet
Royal Thai Navy Seals Emblem.svg
Unit insignia
BranchRoyal Thai Navy
TypeSpecial operations forces
RoleSpecial operations
Reconnaissance missions
Direct Action
Personnel recovery
Combat search and rescue
Unconventional Warfare
Part ofRoyal Thai Armed Forces
Garrison/HQSattahip, Chonburi Province
Nickname(s)Royal Thai Navy SEALs[1]
EngagementsCold War
 • Communist insurgency in Thailand
 • Communist insurgency in Malaysia
 • Vietnamese border raids in Thailand
Persian Gulf War
Southern Insurgency
OEF – Horn of Africa
 • Anti-Piracy operation in Gulf of Aden
Anti-Piracy in strait of Malacca
Tham Luang cave rescue (in Thai)
Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew[2]

The unit was set up in the name of Underwater Demolition Assault Unit in 1956 with the assistance of the U.S. Government.[4] A small element within the Navy SEALs has been trained to conduct maritime counter-terrorism missions.[citation needed] The unit has close ties with the United States Navy SEALs and conducts regular training exercises.[5]



In 1952, the Thai Ministry of Defence considered forming a diving unit.[3] At a meeting with the Royal Thai Army and Royal Thai Police it was agreed that the Royal Thai Navy would be responsible for establishing the unit.[3] Representatives of the Thai Navy met with officers from the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to discuss possible training.[3] On 13 June 1952, the Thai Navy approved the training program for the diving unit that included Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) training.[3] Unfortunately at the time there were not enough instructors from the United States to make the project happen and so it was temporarily put on hold.[3][5]

A Navy SEAL conducting a boarding of a U.S. Navy cargo ship during a terrorism (SEACAT) exercise in 2008[6]

In 1953, the Overseas Southeast Asia Supply Company (SEA Supply), a CIA front company, that provided assistance to the Thai Police, offered to provide the initial diving training to the Thai Navy and also to the Thai Police, which had received parachute training.[5][3] The Thai Navy approved a contingent of seven personnel and the Thai Police approved a contingent of eight personnel to receive training at Saipan island in the United States.[3] At Saipan island, the Thai Navy and Thai Police received eleven weeks training.[3] The Thai Navy contingent requested further training and the establishment of a Thai Navy Underwater Demolition Team on 24 November 1953 under the command of a Lieutenant.[3]

In 1956, the Royal Thai Navy formed a small combat diver unit.[7] In 1965, the unit was expanded and reorganised with US Navy assistance. [7] Three years later, it was again reorganised with US Navy assistance, dividing the unit between an underwater demolitions team and a SEAL team.[7] The UDT was tasked with salvage operations, obstacle clearance, and underwater demolitions.[7] The SEAL team was tasked with reconnaissance and intelligence missions.[7]

In the 1991 book South-East Asian Special Forces by Kenneth Conboy, the author wrote that the Navy SEALs were organised into two units, SEAL Teams One and Two, with a strength of 144 personnel with each SEAL Team divided into four platoons.[7] On 18 March 1991, the Navy SEALs were re-designated as the Naval Special Warfare Group, Royal Thai Fleet (Thai: หน่วยสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ กองเรือยุทธการ) and were to report directly to the Royal Thai Fleet.[3][8] The unit was expanded and organised into three divisions: special combat, special warfare school, and support.[3]

On 7 August 2008, the Naval Special Warfare Group was re-designated as the Naval Special Warfare Command, Royal Thai Fleet, in order to increase the unit size and its capability for dealing with any future threats.[3][9]

Operational deploymentsEdit

Navy SEALs conduct a beach assault from Zodiac inflatables during Exercise Cobra Gold 2011

Most of the operations of the Navy SEALs are highly sensitive and are rarely divulged to the public. Navy SEALs have been used to gather intelligence along the Thai border during times of heightened tension.[7] In December 1978, recon teams were sent to the Mekong River during skirmishes with the Pathet Lao, a communist political movement and organisation in Laos.[7] Navy SEALs have participated in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Thailand.[7] They have also participated in salvage and rescue operations, and have supported Royal Thai Marine Corps training exercises.[10]

In recent times, Navy SEALs have deployed on Royal Thai Navy warships for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia as part of Combined Task Force 151.[11][12]

In June 2018, Navy SEALs responded to a request for assistance to search for a junior football team in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system.[13] The Navy SEALs coordinated a rescue of the football team from the flooded cave system with assistance from international cave and support divers. 127 current and former Navy SEALs participated in the rescue.[14][2] While delivering supplies for the rescue, former Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st class Saman Kunan died after losing consciousness underwater and could not be resuscitated.[15]

Royal Thai Navy SEAL prepares to parachute from a U.S. Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II at U-Tapao
US and Thai navy SEALs conduct joint visit, board, search, and seizure training.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "ตรวจเยี่ยมกองอำนวยการฝึกนักเรียนนักทำลายใต้น้ำจู่โจม รุ่นที่ 45". Navy SEAL Thailand (in Thai). Royal Thai Navy. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b "When Navy SEALs face their toughest challenge". Thai PBS. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "หน่วยบัญชาการสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ กองเรือยุทธการ: ประวัติความเป็นมา" [Naval Special Warfare Command, Royal Thai Fleet - History]. Navy SEAL Thailand (in Thai). Royal Thai Navy. 14 November 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c "ประวัติหน่วย" [title:History;website:Naval Special Warfare Unit, Royal Thai Fleet]. หน่วยสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ กองเรือยุทธการ (in Thai). Royal Thai Navy. Archived from the original on 16 August 2007.
  6. ^ "Thai special forces storm Military Sealift Command ship during antiterrorism exercise" (Press release). Military Sealift Command - U.S. Navy. 19 August 2008. Archived from the original on 28 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Conboy 1991, p. 52.
  8. ^ Naval Academy (2002). "English-Thai Naval Dictionary". Royal Thai Navy. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015.
  9. ^ "ร่วมงานวันคล้ายวันสถาปนาหน่วยบัญชาการสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ" [Celebrate the launch of the Naval Special Warfare Command] (in Thai). Artillery Regiment Marine Corps. April 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  10. ^ Bennet 2003.
  11. ^ "Royal Thai Navy Anti-Piracy Fleet" (Press release). Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  12. ^ Panrak, Patcharapol (8 July 2011). "Thai navy returns to Somalia for 2nd anti-piracy tour". Pattaya Mail. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Timeline of young footballers, coach being trapped in Mae Sai cave, Chiang Rai". Thai PBS. 25 June 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Navy chief praises Thai Navy SEALs in special citation". Thai PBS. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  15. ^ Busby, Mattha (2018-07-06). "Thai navy Seals pay tribute to diver who died in cave rescue". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-07.


  • Bennett, Richard M. (2003). Elite Forces : The World's Most Formidable Secret Armies. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 9780753522813.
  • Conboy, Kenneth (1991). South-East Asian Special Forces. Elite series;no.32. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781855321069.

Further readingEdit