Naval Special Warfare Command (Thailand)

The Naval Special Warfare Command[1] (Thai: หน่วยบัญชาการสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ), commonly known as the Royal Thai Navy SEALs[2] (an acronym for SEa–Air–Land),[1] is the special operations force of the Royal Thai Navy.

Naval Special Warfare Command
Royal Thai Navy SEALs
Royal Thai Navy Seals Emblem.svg
Royal Thai Navy SEAL Embelm
Country Thailand
BranchFlag of the Royal Thai Navy.svg Royal Thai Navy
TypeNaval Special Operations
Part ofRoyal Thai Fleet
Nickname(s)Royal Thai Navy SEALs
Frog man

The unit was set up in the name of Underwater Demolition Assault Unit in 1956 with the assistance of the U.S. Government.[3] A small element within the Navy SEALs has been trained to conduct maritime counter-terrorism missions.[4] The unit has close ties with the United States Navy SEALs and conducts regular training exercises.[5]


Royal Thai Navy SEALs

In 1952, the Thai Ministry of Defence considered forming a diving unit.[1] 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.[1] Representatives of the Thai Navy met with officers from the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to discuss possible training.[1] On 13 June 1952, the Thai Navy approved the training program for the diving unit that included Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) training.[1] 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.[1][5]

Royal Thai Navy SEALs are in parachute training

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][1] 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.[1] At Saipan island, the Thai Navy and Thai Police received eleven weeks training.[1] 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.[1]

In 1956, the Royal Thai Navy formed a small combat diver unit.[6] In 1965, the unit was expanded and reorganised with US Navy assistance. [6] Three years later, it was again reorganised with US Navy assistance, dividing the unit between an underwater demolitions team and a SEAL team.[6] The UDT was tasked with salvage operations, obstacle clearance, and underwater demolitions.[6] The SEAL team was tasked with reconnaissance and intelligence missions.[6]

Royal Thai Navy SEALs storm the beach

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.[6] On 18 March 1991, the Navy SEALs were re-designated as the Naval Special Warfare Group, Royal Thai Fleet and were to report directly to the Royal Thai Fleet.[1][7] The unit was expanded and organised into three divisions: special combat, special warfare school, and support.[1]

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.[1][8]


  • Prepare readiness of personnel for operations, study and training of naval special warfare
  • Special operations squad for naval special warfare and perform other special tasks as will be assigned
  • Naval Special Warfare School has to train, study and evaluate of naval special warfare. Command and control the trainees and students of Naval Special Warfare Command.
  • Naval Special Warfare Support Division supports logistics service to the unit under the responsibility.

Training CourseEdit

Training on an assault course Takes about 7-8 months. It is considered the longest military training course in Thailand, divided into 5 periods as are following;

  • Introduction to basic training practicing exercise and solving various obstacles takes approximately 3 weeks.*
  • The actual training takes about 6 weeks.
  • Intense training, known as "Hell Week", lasts for continuously 120 hours without breaks.
  • Various tactical training
  • Tactical training in real conditions takes about 2 months


Upon completion of the course, students will receive a badge of competence which was designed by Admiral Pan Rukkaew.[citation needed] The components of the badge have the following meaning

SEALs Badge
  • Shark meaning the god of the sea, fierce, formidable, elegant and strong.
  • The waves mean the horror of the sea that is always wave. But the shark is not even fear.
  • Anchor means a sailor. In the past, courses only accepted sailors. But now the unit has also received additional army, air force and police.
  • Thai national flag means sacrifice for the nation, religion and king.

Operational deploymentsEdit

Map of areas under threat by Somali pirates (2005–2010)

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.[6]

Navy SEALs have participated in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Thailand.[6] They have also participated in salvage and rescue operations, and have supported Royal Thai Marine Corps training exercises.[9]

Thai 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.[10][11]The CTF 151 was established on 12 January 2009 as a response to piracy attacks in Somalia.[12]The task eventually were succeed as a piracy events in the region have been reduced.[13]

On February 13, 2013, the Battle of Bacho occurred when 50 RKK members attacked a 2nd Rifle Company, 32nd Task Force Narathiwat of the royal thai marine base. The royal thai marine base had already prepared due to receiving clues about the plans to attack the stronghold 2-3 days before. The marine commander has put in a defensive strategy with additional of the 11 members of Recon and 17 Thai Navy SEALs.[14] After clashing resulted in 16 deaths from attacker side with non fatality for both Recon and Navy SEALs members.[15][16]

Tham Luang cave rescue map

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.[17] The Navy SEALs coordinated a rescue of the football team from the flooded cave system with assistance from international cave and support divers.

Totally 127 current and former Navy SEALs participated in the rescue.[18] 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.[19]

However, all junior football team members including 12 junior football players together with their assistant coach were safely rescued.[20]


Small armsEdit

An M4A1 just after firing, with an ejected case in mid-air
M32 Grenade Loading
M60 firing from boat
Barrett M82
Name Origin Type Caliber Notes
H&K USP Compact   Germany Semi-automatic pistol 9×19mm Parabellum [21]
Glock19   Austria Semi-automatic pistol 9×19mm Parabellum [22]
Heckler & Koch P7   Germany Semi-automatic pistol 9×19mm Parabellum P7M8[21]
Assault rifle
Heckler & Koch G36   Germany Assault rifle 5.56×45mm NATO G36KV[21]
Heckler & Koch HK416   Germany Assault rifle 5.56×45mm NATO HK416 D16.5RS.[21]
SCAR-H and SCAR-L   Belgium Assault rifle 5.56×45mm NATO SCAR-H and SCAR-L.[21]
Bushmaster M4   United States Assault rifle 5.56×45mm NATO Carbon-15 [21]
SIG Sauer SIG516    Switzerland Semi-automatic rifle 5.56×45mm NATO [21]
Grenade launcher
Heckler & Koch AG36   Germany Grenade launcher 40mm [21]
Milkor MGL   South Africa Grenade launcher 40mm Milkor M32[21]
Submachine gun
Heckler & Koch MP5   Germany Submachine gun 9×19mm Parabellum MP-5KA4/MP-5SD3 [21]
Heckler & Koch UMP   Germany Submachine gun 9×19mm Parabellum UMP-9 [21]
General-purpose machine gun
Heckler & Koch HK23E   Germany General-purpose machine gun 5.56×45mm NATO [21]
M60 machine gun   United States General-purpose machine gun 7.62 x 51mm NATO U.S. Ordnance M60E4 [21]
Anti-materiel rifle and Sniper Rifle
KAC SR-25   United States Designated marksman rifle 7.62 x 51mm NATO [21]
Heckler & Koch PSG1   Germany Semi-automatic
Sniper rifle
7.62 x 51mm NATO [21]
Heckler & Koch MSG-90   Germany Semi-automatic
Sniper rifle
7.62 x 51mm NATO [21]
Accuracy International AW50   United Kingdom Anti-materiel rifle 12.7 x 99mm [21]
Barrett M82   United States Anti-materiel rifle 12.7 x 99mm [21]
Barrett M98B   United States Sniper Rifle .338 Lapua Magnum [21]

Special Operations CraftsEdit

Seafox Mk.IV SWCL
Class Origin Type Notes
Special Operations Craft
Por.51   Thailand Special Operations Craft 4 x Marsun M18 FAB [21]
Tor.241   United States Special Operations Craft 3 x Seafox Mk.IV SWCL [21]
Zodiac   France Combat Rubber Raiding Craft Zodiac Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB)[21]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ ตรวจเยี่ยมกองอำนวยการฝึกนักเรียนนักทำลายใต้น้ำจู่โจม รุ่นที่ 45. Navy SEAL Thailand (in Thai). Royal Thai Navy. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Panrak, Patcharapol (8 July 2011). "Thai navy returns to Somalia for 2nd anti-piracy tour". Pattaya Mail. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  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. ^ a b c d e f g h Conboy 1991, p. 52.
  7. ^ Naval Academy (2002). "English-Thai Naval Dictionary". Royal Thai Navy. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  8. ^ ร่วมงานวันคล้ายวันสถาปนาหน่วยบัญชาการสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ [Celebrate the launch of the Naval Special Warfare Command] (in Thai). Artillery Regiment Marine Corps. April 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  9. ^ Bennet 2003.
  10. ^ "Royal Thai Navy Anti-Piracy Fleet" (Press release). Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  11. ^ Panrak, Patcharapol (8 July 2011). "Thai navy returns to Somalia for 2nd anti-piracy tour". Pattaya Mail. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  12. ^ "CTF-151: Counter-piracy". Combined Maritime Forces. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  13. ^ "New Counter-Piracy Task Force Established". Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  14. ^ Death zone awaited unsuspecting raiders
  15. ^ "เมื่อคนตาย เราควรฟังเสียงใคร? | ประชาไท". Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  16. ^ "Thai marines kill 16 militants who attacked base | Oceania". Gulf News. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  17. ^ "Timeline of young footballers, coach being trapped in Mae Sai cave, Chiang Rai". Thai PBS. 25 June 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Navy chief praises Thai Navy SEALs in special citation". Thai PBS. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  19. ^ Busby, Mattha (2018-07-06). "Thai navy Seals pay tribute to diver who died in cave rescue". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  20. ^ Safi, Michael (11 July 2018). "Thai cave rescue: water pumps failed just after last boy escaped". the Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u vยุทโธปกรณ์ในกองทัพเร/
  22. ^


  • Bennett, Richard M. (2003). Elite Forces : The World's Most Formidable Secret Armies. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 9780753522813.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Conboy, Kenneth (1991). South-East Asian Special Forces. Elite series;no.32. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781855321069.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further readingEdit