Navy SEALs are elite members of the United States Navy Sea, Air and Land special operations force. While trained to operate above and below water, the unit is best known for its underwater capabilities. Specialized dive equipment enables the SEALs to work effectively in ocean and fresh water combat situations.
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Two standard wetsuits are used by the Navy SEALs. A camouflage wetsuit used by U.S. combat divers is designed to conceal the wearer above and below water.
The second military wetsuit is specific to the U.S. Navy SEALs. It is a black suit with a horizontal front zip and a hood. The hood contains an earphone pocket for communication equipment.
Navy SEALs wear different types of dive boots depending on the current operation. Standard dive boots have a rounded toe with heel and toe support. Divers wear heavier boots when extra foot protection is required, particularly if they will be walking over sharp rocks. These “work boots” dry quickly, are self-draining and they float. SEALs can wear dive fins over the boots.
Navy SEALs use self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or SCUBA, breathing systems for standard dives. The diver carries the bulky air tank on his back. SCUBA gear uses an open-circuit system, meaning that the diver expels the air into the surrounding water. This creates bubbles, a negative aspect of SCUBA systems as the bubbles could give away the diver’s position.
Rebreathers are small, closed-circuit breathing systems that do not expel air into the water. Navy SEALs use two types of rebreathers. The LAR V Draeger runs on 100 percent oxygen, and the unit filters carbon dioxide from the exhaled air.
The elimination of bubbles makes the Draeger ideal for clandestine amphibious operations. However, the unit has a maxim depth of 70 feet, much less than SCUBA equipment.
The LAR V Draeger rebreather is a type of closed-circuit diving apparatus used for military and special operations, particularly by combat divers and maritime special forces. The rebreather is designed to recycle a diver’s exhaled breath by removing carbon dioxide (CO2) and replenishing oxygen, allowing for longer underwater missions compared to traditional open-circuit scuba systems.
The LAR V (Lungenautomatrettungsgerät Versuch) Draeger rebreather is manufactured by Draeger, a German company known for producing breathing equipment and technology for various applications, including diving, firefighting, and industrial safety.
This specific rebreather model is notable for its compact design, which enables stealthier underwater operations by producing fewer bubbles than open-circuit scuba gear. It allows divers to operate more quietly, making it suitable for clandestine or covert missions where minimizing noise and visibility are crucial.
The LAR V Draeger rebreather typically includes components such as a breathing loop, scrubber to remove CO2, oxygen supply system, counterlung for gas storage, and various safety mechanisms to ensure proper functionality and diver safety during missions.
However, it’s important to note that specific details and features of the LAR V Draeger rebreather might vary depending on the version or model, and operational protocols or training requirements are essential for its safe and effective use in underwater missions.
The MK 15 and MK 16 Closed Circuit Mixed Gas Rebreathers are similar to the Draeger, but an enhanced gas mix allows divers to reach depths of approximately 1,800 feet.
Navy SEALs are known for their operational versatility, often conducting missions that span both land and underwater environments. A dive watch serves as an indispensable tool for these elite operators during their underwater endeavors.
Beyond its primary function as a timekeeping device, a dive watch boasts durability, reliability, and precision, tailored specifically for underwater use. Crafted to withstand high water pressures and extreme conditions, these watches are engineered with robust materials and construction, ensuring their functionality in the harshest environments. In the depths where electronic devices might fail due to technical glitches or battery issues, a dive watch stands as a dependable backup, providing crucial timekeeping for mission execution, synchronized maneuvers, and adherence to dive protocols.
Moreover, the dive watch symbolizes more than a mere timekeeping instrument for Navy SEALs. It embodies a tradition deeply rooted in maritime heritage, fostering a sense of camaraderie among SEAL teams. Wearing these timepieces signifies a shared experience and a commitment to excellence in maritime operations. The dive watch is not only a practical tool but also a symbol of resilience, preparedness, and a nod to the legacy of naval diving. As an integral part of their gear, the dive watch is a constant companion, reflecting the SEALs’ readiness to navigate challenging underwater environments while upholding the highest standards of precision and reliability in their missions.
Waterproof rucksacks allow Navy SEALs to carry vital equipment to depths of about 70 feet without the contents getting wet. Watertight zipper seals prevent leakage. The packs also contain buoyancy control systems. Divers use waterproof utility pouches for carrying smaller loads.
Navy SEALs use underwater navigation boards for combat dives. Each handheld board integrates a depth gauge, dive chronometer and an underwater compass. If the board is too bulky for any given mission, divers can carry depth gauges, chronometers and compasses individually, normally strapped around the wrist or attached to the dive suit.
FINS and MASK
Standard Navy SEAL dive fins and diving masks are similar to standard retail versions. However, combat divers also use the military Full Face Mask. This mask gives the wearer extra face protection and functions well in polluted waters.
What type of breathing gear do Navy SEALs use?
Navy SEALs use three main types of underwater breathing gear: open circuit compressed air, closed circuit (100% oxygen) (LAR V Draeger), and closed circuit (mixed gas) (MK 15, MK 16)1.
What is the difference between open circuit and closed circuit rebreathers?
Open circuit rebreathers supply air from a tank to the diver, while closed circuit rebreathers recycle unused breathing gas, allowing divers to stay beneath the waves for much longer periods1.
What is an underwater navigation board?
An underwater navigation board includes a depth gauge, dive chronometer, and compass. It is used to navigate underwater.
Underwater navigation is a paramount skill for Navy SEALs due to its strategic importance in executing covert and effective missions. By navigating underwater, SEALs can approach target areas with stealth and surprise, avoiding detection and gaining a tactical advantage over adversaries. This clandestine approach is particularly crucial for accessing well-defended coastal regions, enemy vessels, or sensitive installations where traditional land-based entry might be impractical or risky.
Additionally, underwater navigation plays a vital role in overcoming obstacles that SEALs might encounter during missions, such as submerged defenses or barriers. This skill is essential for maneuvering through challenging environments with precision and ensuring a successful mission outcome. Whether conducting reconnaissance, executing specialized insertions, or facilitating rapid escape and evasion, the ability to navigate underwater equips Navy SEALs with a versatile toolset for diverse operational scenarios, reinforcing their capabilities as elite special operations forces.