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Underwater Demolition Assault Unit

The Naval Special Warfare Command, Royal Thai Fleet[1] (Thai: หน่วยบัญชาการสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ กองเรือยุทธการ), commonly known as the Thai Navy SEALs[2][3][4][5][6] (an acronym for Sea–Air–Land),[1] is a 144-man[citation needed] special operations force within the military of Thailand.

Naval Special Warfare Command,
Royal Thai Fleet
Royal Thai Navy Seals Emblem.svg
Unit insignia
Active 1956–present
Country  Thailand
Branch Royal Thai Navy
Type Special Operations
Role Intelligence-gathering,
Reconnaissance missions,
Direct Action,
Unconventional Warfare
and Counter-Terrorism
Size 144
Part of Royal Thai Armed Forces
Garrison/HQ Sattahip, Chonburi, Thailand
Nickname(s) Thai Navy SEALs
Website Official Site of Naval Special Warfare Command, Royal Thai Fleet: Navy SEAL Thailand (in Thai)
Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew

The unit was set up in the name of Underwater Demolition Assault Unit in 1956[7] with the assistance of the U.S. Government and has trained with the United States Navy SEALs. A small element within the Royal Thai Navy SEAL unit has been trained to conduct maritime counter-terrorism missions. This unit has close ties with the U.S. Navy's own SEAL teams.[citation needed]



A SEAL of the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit boarding a container ship during the annual Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism (SEACAT) exercises, 2008.

During World War II, naval forces fighting for both the Axis and Allies used special warfare forces. They were small elite groups trained to destroy ships, buildings, and other strategic locations as well as conduct sabotage and other clandestine missions. After the war, the special warfare mission continued and through improved training and equipment, increased the ability of the military to fight using new tactics to achieve missions previously unthinkable.[citation needed]

In 1952, the Thai Ministry of Defence considered organizing Underwater Demolition Teams. Representatives of the Thai Ministry of Defense met with officers from the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group to discuss possible training.[citation needed] Based on the meetings, a resolution was passed directing the Royal Thai Navy to set up training for the unit but 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.

In 1953, Sea Supply, a CIA front company, was tasked with supporting the initial training of the Royal Thai Navy's Underwater Demolition Team and also the Royal Thai Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit.[citation needed] The first group to take part in the UDT/SEAL training included seven Thai Naval Officers and eight members of the Royal Thai Police. This training started on March 4, 1953 on 'Z island (ZULU)'.[citation needed] After 61 days, only 15 of the recruits successfully passed the training.

In 1956 the Royal Thai Navy formed a small combat diver unit, based on the U.S. Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams.[citation needed] In 1965 the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit was reorganized. It was expanded and divided into two separate platoons, with a U.S. Navy Mobile Training Team providing assistance. The first group was assigned intelligence-gathering, special and unconventional warfare, assassination and Special reconnaissance missions.,[8] and the second group dealt with underwater demolition.

In 2008,[citation needed] the Royal Thai Navy's special warfare units have been raised to "Royal Thai Naval Special Warfare Command" in order to increase the unit size and its capability for dealing with any future threats.

Operational deploymentsEdit

Insignia of the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit

Most of the operations of the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit are highly sensitive and are rarely divulged to the public. However, they participated in a number of operations along the Cambodian border,[9] and in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Thailand.[10] They have also participated in salvage and rescue operations, and have supported Royal Thai Marine Corps training exercises. The Underwater Demolition Assault Unit also gathered intelligence during periods of heightened tensions along Thailand's borders.[11] In December 1978, for example, recon teams were sent to the Mekong River during skirmishes with the Pathet Lao, a communist political movement and organisation in Laos. In 2011 the Royal Thai Navy SEALs were sent to the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia to participate in anti-piracy operations.[12]

Members of the group also participated in the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, in which one of their former members, Saman Kunan, died of asphyxiation while delivering supplies.[13]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "หน่วยบัญชาการสงครามพิเศษทางเรือ กองเรือยุทธการ: ประวัติความเป็นมา". (in Thai). Bangkok: Naval Special Warfare Command, Royal Thai Fleet. n.d. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  2. ^ Wongcha-um, Panu; Tanakasempipat, Patpicha (2018-07-03). "Thai lucky 13 found, but still stuck as divers draw up cave rescue plans". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  3. ^ Styllis, George (2018-07-02). "All 12 boys and their soccer coach found alive in Thailand cave, but getting out will be difficult". LA Times. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  4. ^ "Thai cave rescue: 12 boys and coach to get 4 months' food, diving training". Straits Times. 2018-07-03. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  5. ^ Vejpongsa, Tassanee (2018-06-26). "Flooding complicates cave search for Thai soccer team". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  6. ^ (2018-07-03). "WATCH: Agonising rescue ahead for Thai cave boys as nation rejoices". Tiso Blackstar Group. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Thailand: Royal Thai Navy, Royal Thai Marines". 
  9. ^ Ryan, Mike; Mann, Chris; Stilwell, Alexander (6 March 2014). "The Encyclopedia of the World's Special Forces: Tactics, History, Strategy, Weapons". Amber Books Ltd – via Google Books. 
  10. ^ Ray Bonds, David Miller (2003). "Illustrated Directory of Special Forces - Page 98". 
  11. ^ Kenneth Conboy (2012). "South-East Asian Special Forces".  Note that pages relevant to this citation are omitted from Google Books online preview.
  12. ^ Panrak, Patcharapol (8 July 2011). "Thai navy returns to Somalia for 2nd anti-piracy tour - Pattaya Mail". 
  13. ^ Busby, Mattha (2018-07-06). "Thai navy Seals pay tribute to diver who died in cave rescue". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-07. 

External linksEdit