SEAL Delivery Vehicles & The Secret War off the Horn of Africa

SDV submarine launch..then the fun begins.

Few people realize what happens at a SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team. It’s a very different and challenging underwater mission.

The SEALs of an SDV Team spend days training underwater. An SDV SEAL will lock out of a submarine unseen in the cold dark depths of the ocean, only to then endure an 8 hour transit just to get to a land insertion point. And sometimes they never surface at all but, still attack and track targets…we will not get into those mission specifics but you can use your imagination to guess at some likely scenarios.

“The small SDV makes for tight quarters and you’re completely engulfed by the darkness of the “sled”. That and several atmospheres of pressure make for an interesting night. Sometimes the only illumination is coming from the glow of the onboard Nav systems or the eery bioluminescence”.-Undisclosed SEAL.

It takes a strong mindset for the SDV job and the claustrophobic need not apply. 8 hours of transit time underwater and then their mission really starts once they get to an insert point somewhere off the shark infested waters of North Africa.

Enjoy the excerpt below. It gives you a look at what types of missions the SDV can accomplish and what they’re up to in the middle of the night while most are sleeping. Hit the “Like” button up top if you enjoyed this post. The team at Kit Up appreciates your help spreading the word via Facebook!
Thanks! -Brandon

One night in November 2003, beneath the moon-washed waters off Somalia’s northern coast, a small, dark shadow slipped away from the attack submarine Dallas and headed toward the shore.

The smaller shape was a 21-foot-long submersible called a SEAL delivery vehicle.

Launched from a tubular dry deck shelter on the sub and designed to infiltrate Navy SEALs on covert or clandestine missions, the SDV carries its crew and passengers exposed to the water, breathing from their scuba gear or the vehicle’s compressed air supply. Aboard were a handful of SEALs on a top-secret special reconnaissance mission into a country with which the U.S. was technically not at war.

The SEALs grounded the SDV on the ocean bottom and pushed away from it, taking with them the centerpiece of their mission, a specially disguised high-tech camera called a Cardinal device.

Unbeknownst to them, during the previous 24 hours, their mission had been the subject of Cabinet-level debate in Washington and had almost been canceled until President George W. Bush gave the go-ahead.

Now they were conducting what a special operations source with firsthand knowledge of the operation referred to as “a long swim through some of the most shark-infested waters in the world” toward the coastline that loomed ominously ahead of them. The hard part was just beginning. Click Here for the Full Story.


SDV Ops off Hawaii

Sub Ops

  • Cloggman

    “The hard part was just beginning”… so where is the rest of the story?

    • Mad Mike

      Yeah, talk about a cliffhanger!

  • Go Navy!

    Bravo Zulu to our Spec Ops and our armed forces for keeping our country safe. It’s amazing the amount of sacrifices made by our troops to keep us safe.

  • O-6 SWCC

    The article is an early excerpt from the NOV 7, 2011 issue of Army Times.
    Recommend you go there” target=”_blank”>( on Monday.
    If you have access to the Early Bird, go to OCT 31 or Brandon could provide a link.

    • Captain Jake

      Article is also in the Navy Times.

    • Brandon

      Thanks 0-6 SWCC. The Army times link was embedded on top but, also just provided the Navy Times link at the end…thanks for the heads up. -Brandon

  • anthony

    Where is the story??Remeber our Seals dont need publicitie,believe me they are keeping us safe never forget that..

  • Concerned

    Amazing read! But the other side of this story is that they used some of our best forces in a huge, dangerous and expensive operation to place cameras that they knew would not provide good intel. They only took one picture every 12 hrs. and the embassy told them it was overkill.

  • Lance

    Let them chase Al Qaeda all over Africa.

  • gunslinger6

    Great read!

  • Jake

    Oh look, “Special” Forces making a big deal about getting their lazy asses a ride into combat instead of walking like the rest of mere mortals.

    • Hammer27

      I really hope that’s a joke.

  • Trooper

    I wish this story wasn’t revealed. It is difficult enough these days to maintain secrecy. Since my days back in J3, OJCS in the mid 70’s too many people were in the know which wasn’t necessary. My fellow officers who shared an office with me did not reveal to each other the actions we were responsible for coordinating with the services, OJCS, DoD and other govt agencies. We all had the right clearances but not the need to know.

  • maluka

    Does everyone have the sickness called diarrhea of mouth like VP J. Biden? Why is any activity conducted by the SEALS or any SOG seeing the light of day? There was a saying in WWII that went “loose lips sink ships” How about the pentagon and others quit bragging and shut the F–k up.

  • John

    We reveal too much in print and we compromise some of our most sensitive missions.

    God Bless the Special Operators and keep them safe from the loose lips that sink more than ships.

    Former Operator

  • Russell

    READ the WHOLE thing, it says click hear for full story, then it goes to the full story. It’s real easy.

  • Navbm7

    My question is why was the Ambassador even told about this op? Telling the State Dept. about any military operation is just asking for trouble, you may as well just transmit the plans to the opposition and skip the middleman. State’s information security sucks, (remember WikiLeaks?); yeah, I know that an Army comm spec is being blamed for the release but why did he even have access to State’s messages?
    The basic missions for DOD and State are in direct opposition: State wants to negotiate the enemy to death and DOD wants to shoot them to death. Guess which creates a more lasting peace.

  • Shane Lynch

    ya we I would like to see you go through thier training and thier type of warfare so unless you are or were e SEAL dont say anything.

  • SEALwife

    I’m proud to be married to one of the guys who launched the first SDV off of a sub …

  • keebler

    God Bless the Special Operators and keep them safe,thanks for all you do to Keep the world a safer place.
    EM1 retired

  • Tom

    It amazes me how many times we were told to forget what we did, and now days I can read about the same things on the front pages.

  • Bob

    I wholeheartedly agree with John, there are things that our military is involved in that should be kept “behind the scenes.” There are things that the American public let alone our adversaries at home and abroad should not be privy to, in some cases it compromises our technologies and capabilities. In the case of our SPEC OPS folks, has the potential to put an even bigger target on their backs. This has been a problem that has plagued our military since the Vietnam Conflict.

    “There are only 2 kinds of ships…….submarines and targets.” Run silent, run deep.


    I agree that the world and media is told much too much! I must admit that SEAL’s missions are very interesting, but it should not be information shared to all. Really?

  • Joe Semon

    I have worked with the SDV Teams in the Persian Gulf was corrected by a SEAL; he said “SDV is for Swimmer Delivery Vehicle”. So who is right?

    • Rich

      Seal Delivery Vehicle, was stationed at SDVT-2 in the late 90’s.

  • BoogyMan

    Hats off the the “INCOGNITO” team that makes me PROUD to be an AMERICAN. What they do and how they do it should not be a concern to us… they earned the right to operate in the darkness with all the best gadgets available and pull off missions worthy of the BIG screens. Don’t worry my “under-cover brothers”… I will build a tribute Chopper worthy of the SEAL TEAM name, and I will unveil / present it in Coronado at the SEAL training facility. We may never get to thank you personally for the jobs well done, but I will do my best to show my appreciation.

  • jon

    Trooper, remember the late fifties when we were illegally training Formosan Troops on Saipan ( NTTU), we were still using masks, and snorkel’s, when Jacques Cousteau invented SCUBA, 58. We were preparing Chang Ki Chex gorilla troops to blow up dams on the mainland China, against Mao!
    In those day’s they were Underwater Demolition Teams, UDT or Frogmen, I was a Seabee covering for these tough future Seals, by doing the maintenance on the island!

  • Hier

    Now that I know I can ask my father to protect them if that’s his will.

  • CoserveDeNation

    The present administration wants to look good to the american people and forget about the information they are giving our enemies. The killing of Osama is a good example of boasting and forget the intel goldmine!! This is soooo baaad. fourteen more months of liberal chest pounding..

    • LionsShare

      O’ is crap, to let the enemy know that we possess intel acquired at the time of Osama’s death and not be able to use it after we risked so much to acquire it, because president O’ could not keep his mouth shut is rediculous.

  • Crusader3

    This article confirms again that the USA military has NO secrets. Guess our corporate media is so arrogant that we are so invincible that we don’t care what our enemies know about our capabilities? I am a fearless Navy combat veteran and these kind of tell all stories scare me to death.

    • Dick Peligro

      “Corporate media” wrote this story?! I didn’t see an AP cutline. Try again, Crusader — this story was generated, vetted and approved by Navy JO’s. I think all you secrecy freaks have been watching too many spook movies. What are a bunch of Somali pirates in fishing dinghys going to do with this “information,” anyway — drop depth charges — on a target they don’t even know is there? Please … let’s all take a deep breath and stop the huffing and puffing.

  • James Taylor

    Damn Anthony that is not how you spell publicity…..where did you go to school?

  • nythawk

    If people think the Seal delivery device looks like that they are wrong. Remeber anything they show on TV the military is 25 to 50 years ahead of that. That is nothing more than window dressing. The real underwater device has capabilites you can only dream about.

    • X-NAVY

      This may be true but even you must realize that the Soviet Union has sold every bit of information to anyone who will pay. Be assured that China, Iran and other countries with no value of human life have obtained many technologies that have advanced them to a dangerous level.

  • nythawk

    read nythawks reply

  • harry

    God Bless our guys and gals that protect us everday

  • Alangthomp

    We have had a joint security base in Djibouti, Africa to to provide security to the Horn of Africa for many years. You don’t hear about them often.

  • Rosalee Adams

    Admiral Mike Mullens made similar comments publicly when they kept divulging more and more
    information on SEAL Team 6
    They do NOT need now nor have they ever needed publicity……..
    We need to keep classified classified

  • Jim

    Jake, If you could do half of what they can do.. and had endured half of what they have endured ALL I might add to keep your ass safe.. THEN you can complain about them not walking

  • JIm

    Because the ambasador is chief-in-country and everything is coordinated through him

  • Rob Roy MacGreggor

    If only the US Government would make 1/10Th the sacrifice the seals do. Our service men and women would be home now, having defeated our enemies.

  • A.D.

    HOO-YAHH and GOD bless the frogman. My Grandfather landed on D-Day and I was in BUD/S Class 200. My best of friends served with SDV-1, SEAL TEAM 8, 5 and 1. These people are intelligent, sincere, family men and highly trained “personnel” to get the JOB DONE RIGHT!

    • B.C.

      So A.D., what do you think about the shared info? No particulars, but you would think that any info imparted is too much.

  • David

    Hooya! The only easyday was yesterday.

    • zenkayaker

      AMEN BRO !!!!! “if you haven’t been there KEEP YOUR DAMN MOUTH SHUT !!!!! there are NO bargains for freedom it still come’s to you ,at 1 ft /1pound of flesh at a time “never forget-never forgive” remember plowshare’s are what swords are made of !!!! HOO YA

  • David

    and u should be. Hahaha. Simply the best.

  • ray

    This is impressive and God Bless everyone involved…..unfortunately I have to agree with some of the other
    comments…back in the early sixties…yes cold war time we pushed the envelope nothing like today….but
    we could not talk about it… brother was working under cover drug bust and I was doing some thing similar
    in the Navy….it is difficult but we should not be sharing information like we do today and there are some things
    that are best left in the shadows…..if we want to continue to lead and be the best then take the politics and newspeople out of the equation…..
    Thank you for your dedication and service…we should be focusing on taking care of every one that serves
    or supports our services when they come home with proper transition support and education as well as
    any needed medical help…..we as a country are proud but have very short memories…..

    • Dick Peligro

      If we “take the politics and newspeople out of the equation” as you and others are suggesting, then the U.S. effectively becomes no different than China or Syria — where everything is done in the shadows and only the rulers are deemed to have “the need to know”. Oh … by the way — a news bulletin just in: this story was written by a Navy JO, not a civilian reporter.

  • Pirate

    Your a dumb ass

  • ARFF Driver

    How true!!….WE are our own worst enemy….missions like this are on a need to know basis,and john q public doesn’t need to know…….Enjoy your freedom.

  • zenkayaker

    dude !!! have ya tried walking on water lately !!!! don’t be more stupid than your mom made ya !!!!

  • Dick Peligro

    “. . .the SDV can accomplish and what their up to . . .”

    Uh, Brandon … I believe you meant “what THEY’RE up to,” yes? Is this 5th-grade grammatical blunder an example of fine Navy journalists at work? If so, I don’t really “like” it very much– on Facebook or anywhere else.

  • Just think what enemy is readng this too

  • Teodoro Leon III… and
    ” The hard part was just beginning. Click Here for the Full Story.” and up above in the last line of the story

  • Teodoro Leon III

    “The hard part was just beginning. Click Here for the Full Story.” The spooky spooks need to stop embedding themselves with the military and compromising them.CIA? Why do they need to have joint ops w them? So that the Seals may do their duty work for them. Extra judicial killings in an undeclared war?

  • Dave

    youre little ass wont last 60 seconds in SEAL training. So until you have actually been there shut your mouth. YOU are what is wrong with America today you havent a clue that these brave men protect your freedom daily with thier lives. Thank God litlle loud mouthed cowards like you are sitting at a computerl running your stupid mouth and real men and women are serving America. __

  • emfn Past

    good jobs done by great men. I don’t have to tell you ” be safe”

  • zenpistolero

    Even 10 years ago, when I started working for military intelligence, I was amazed at the gems of information I would find in the web pages of foreign nationals. They were proud of their own military and would comment on things like they had just upgraded their something-or-other. Someone took their girlfriend on base to see a weapon system they operated and she posted a DSLR quality pic of the two of them standing underneath the netting that hides it from satellites. There’s plenty of great information out there on other countries, but it pales in comparison to what is published by the US. The press want to capitalize on what the operators do by writing about it and selling ads. Politicians who never served (let alone held a job not tied to government in their entire life) want to brag about operations they would like to imagine they were slightly associated with to get votes.

    At some point politicians and the press have to realize that getting votes and selling papers/ads will contribute to the death of one or more of the brave operators that they are shamelessly exploiting. The best operations are the ones nobody knows happened. The best operators are the ones nobody outside the community knows. Even SEALs who have never met before can spot each other—it’s eerie. There’s a glance and then they head for a quiet corner. There doesn’t have to be a Trident on their chest for them to be who they are. If you truly want their life to be better, then don’t talk about what they do or how they can do it, and for dang sure don’t say what team went where!!!! Please!

  • T.Ray

    So much for OPSEC…it’s literally gone to HELL in a handbasket. Carry on boys, carry on… HOOYAH

  • B.Lyons USN Ret.

    The State Dept. is full of Commie Spies. I wouldn’t tell them what time breakfast was for fear of them poisoning the food.

  • the best of the best serving and protecting a grateful nation.

  • nicademus

    Roger that!! So many secret ops not so secret anymore…. Whatever happened to “Loose Lips Sink Ships” ethics???

  • Jim N

    Retired Senior Chief Signalman, (20) years. Bravo Zulu to our outsatnding Seal teams, deticated, loyal, intelligent and just down right Great Americans.. Thank you for protecting this great Nation.This country owes you a great deal of thanks and admiration. Makes an Old Salt proud of his Naval service once again.. God be with you..

  • anonymous

    Isn’t alot of the items mentioined in this Open document classified to some extent?

  • Lwolf

    The SEAL’s get to their objectives any way they can effectively do it. They walked plenty in Vietnam. They are winners. Lazy is not in their vocabulary. Ths only easy day for a SEAL is yesterday. You probably know now you are on the wrong blog. Take your bravo sierrra to the Huffington Post. They will eat it up there. They like bravo sierra.

  • Terry C

    I agree 100 percent , as much as their curosity seems to want it, the public does not need to know every move or every mission we go on. Hopefully there will be less press coverage in the future to endanger our troops.

  • Terry C

    Hell Week ! Love it !

  • W. Weaver USN

    If not for a seal team, I wouldn’t be here today to tell you, your are a Jerk, Jake.

  • Jones, T USN

    Making a Big Deal about going into combat walking, swimming, flying or sailing is no reason to call them lazy. Going into Combat the best way possible is a smart move. If I flew over your house and dropped a 500 pound bomb would I be lazy, or just a mere mortal. Better to just walk over and drop it on your head?

    • george

      You guys really did not read the humor in his response? (If I’m wrong though and you’re not being humorous, you’re a jerk.)

  • F. Wysocki: 70-2000

    Back in gthe 70″ SDV was actually a platton within UDT-21 on the East Coast, (the west coast had boats as well), they were called Swimmer Delivery Vehicle’s because it was again part of the Underwater Demolition Teams (the real Navy Frogmen) not the SEAL teams. In 1983 all teams converged into the SEAL teams. The SDV’s were then renamed SEAL Delivery Vehicles’… circa 1980’s
    There were about 12 of us in 1972 as I recall… We were (SDV platton) kind of the “bastard child” of the teams. No one really wanted to be part of SDV and we were all volunteers. Its been a long road and everyone who has done time at SDV has worked hard to build the reputation they now have. There are many of us who have enjoyed a broad career within “The Brotherhood” of the SEALs

  • Ken Harris

    Back before my time in WWII, they would say “Louse Lips Sink Ships” same goes today “LOUSE LIPS KILL SEALs” Taking part with UDT/SEAL in the 60s-70s I could tell a lot of stories BUT some of the things learned back then still helps today. Lets stop Killing SEALS and shout your pie hole.

  • Carolyn

    I am part of the john q public and I agree with you whole heartedly. The public knows too much and I say that not just the American public but the public all over the world. Sometimes I think all we need to do is leave the lights on for them so they don’t lose their way to our troups. Like Geraldo standing up in a Humvee at the beginning of the Iraqi war giving out all sorts of sensitiver information. I was furious. He gave out everything but street addresses ! I do not need to know everything inorder for our troups to succeed. ! I love America and I love our troups and we need to do anything we have to to protect THEM. And keeping a secret a secret is a great way to start. ! Hooah !!

  • Larry Coleman

    check out operation thunderhead, we had what are now called sdv’s.

  • Dave King

    Back in the 70’s the ghost were well respected. I have talked to pineapple and another SEAL about what they did. Special Forecs are great, but when you saw a trident on a sailors chest, that ment to the other people in the Navy. Stationed in Little Creek Va aboard a ARS &ATA”s around divers, SEAL’s were acut above us. May GOD BLESS every SEAL that this country has had and will ever have. No better friends to have are Ghost ‘s and divers like Chief Bosun mate Carl Basher.

  • BrandonWebb

    Good catch! Thanks!

  • BrandonWebb

    Just fixed…thanks Dick. Late night editing can get you!!!

  • Old UDT

    UHHHH Talking them to death?
    Obama Bin Lyin can do it can’t he?

  • Ole UDT

    Nope! Not even so.
    Most can’t even dream of it.
    Haven’t you noticed the low level of IQ the last few years?
    You know, waitin for my money. What money?Obama Money!
    Where’s he get his money? I don’t know. His stash??


    Say what you think! I do! If this bothers you, just get off! Or better yet, Stay home, we’ll do this! Jim… Happy Holidays!


    MAGNIFICENT! T4 79-83 Jim :-),,,


    If it was easy, anyone could do it!


    Actually , it’s little yellow Snake Diversion Vehicle. Ouch!

  • tom


  • CFab

    I appreciate everything our military does and endures to protect us, but some things are better left untold. Thank you for your service!

  • DAVE

    You are a child, that is easy to ,see. If your an adult you belong in the funny farm. God help you for your perverted thoughts.

  • louie

    jake…you must be one of those jealous pussies that can’t make it in the service of any sort….but you DO love the freedom of speach to put out sick garbage like that..a far left weakling that looks for jerk offs that may go along with your cowardness…you say lazy asses and you never could make it through boot camp let alone any special training….that shows you no nothing about being in the milatary….

  • SleepyDave

    Whats funny is that, for the most part, the really sneaky-beaky stuff is kept pretty hushed up by those involved. I know that, when I worked in Intel, OpSec was an incredibly important thing that we paid utmost attention to. You didn’t take your work home with you, you didn’t talk about it outside of the office, and even if you were at the bar with guys you knew from the office, you didn’t talk about what you did today. You never knew who was listening, or what they could put together. You might not outright say “Briefed a SEAL team on a target in HoA this morning, some oil refinery/dock/safehouse/chicken shack/preschool” but someone who had been paying attention could put together “Did you see the briefing on that safehouse?” and a few other things, and get what they need.

    Most of the BTDTs I worked with were the same way. SEALs party like rock stars, but they don’t really like to tell anyone what they do for a living, beyond the obvious. It was vitally important to the mission, and the men, that people never know what they did when and where with who.

    Then you see a newspaper article about your mission, basically telling the whole world who did what when. Honestly, the UBL thing could have gone much better with “Usama Bin Laden is dead, here’s a photo of him suffering from a really awful case of Bullet In The Brainpan Squish, we’ve 86’d his scruffy butt off the coast of Somalia wrapped in a wild California boar, may god and the sharks have mercy on his soul”. End of message. Nothing more needed. It doesn’t matter who did, only that its done. But no, some beancounter wants his MLA (Multi-Letter Agency) to look really cool. What good is a TS/SCI clearance when the NYT puts every little detail in the Sunday edition?

  • Commander Fischer

    “Mere Mortals” Like You, Should NOT let their SPHINCTER do their speaking for them! And furthermore, I can assure you there are NO lazy asses in the U.S. Navy Seal Team’s! Any one of them.

  • Ken

    No . . . That guy must not have been a SEAL. I was atached to SDV-Team 1 (Attachment 1) during the Persian Gulf and it stands for “SEAL Delvery Vehicle”. SDVT-1 is now stationed on Oahu. I go there frequently (still have freinds on the team). The only ones who ride in the Vehicles are SEALS – not swimmers. The sole purpose of SDV teams is to delever SEALS. As far as some other commemts above, the mentioned operation was not a waste of money. SEALS train, train, train. That is why we are the best. Quite frankly, they want to stay active. Making E-8 is a bitter blessing – you are no longer a warrior, but at least you get to stay in for more years (26).

  • Ken

    Sorry nythawk -it IS what they look like. I was atatched to SDV Team 1 and still go there to visit my friends there. There have been many attempts to improve it, (including a dry platform) but all have failed or come short. That old design is still used.

  • Ken

    Hoo Yahhh!! I was on SDV Team One (Attchment 1 – Ford Island) and also served with Team 1. You are rigtht – I have never know a bad guy on the teams. I do not think there was too much info shared. That is basic information – nothing secrative. If they only knew . . . . . .
    Good comment A.D. GOD BLESS YOU!!!

  • Ken

    This is not secret information. It is very basic information.

    Snag and tow, Baby . . . . Snag and tow!! Hoo Yahh!!!

  • Rick Mills

    Jake you are a fool. one of the best beers I ever had was a night out in CA with some seals they are truly a great bunch of guys.

  • SRoman

    Hello. I lived on Saipan 1955-1959 as a child. Interested in more information

  • peruchita

    This story reminds me of the many I used to hear from the guys when I used to work at SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE. Goooooo Navy!