Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT)
In the beginning there was UDT
During WWII there was a need for a few daring sailors to leave the relative safety of their steel ships, and enter the water to wage a dangerous, more personal war on the enemy.
The Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) were a precursor to the current Navy SEALs. The Under-Water Demolition Teams began training in June 1943 at Fort Pierce, Florida in preparation for the D-Day invasion. In World War II, UDT's saw action at Normandy and at various locations in the South Pacific. The UDT's refined and developed their commando tactics during the Korean War, with their efforts initially focused on demolitions and mine disposal.
From mining enemy ships, to clearing mines from our own, the UDT frogmen preformed their dangerous tasks with little more than a pair of tan trunks and a set of rubber fins.
UDT members helped gather soil samples from the beaches of Normandy weeks before the Allied invasion, to give the intelligence community much needed information about the difficulties of landing troops on the beach.
President John F. Kennedy, aware of the situations in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for unconventional warfare and special operations as a measure against guerrilla warfare. In a speech to Congress on May 25 1961, Kennedy spoke of his deep respect for the United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets). He announced the government's plan to put a man on the moon, and, in the same speech, allocated over $100 million toward the strengthening of the special operations forces in order to expand the strength of the American conventional forces.
Realizing the administration's favor of the Green Berets, the Navy needed to determine its role within the special operations arena. In March 1961, the Chief of Naval Operations recommended the establishment of guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units. These units would be able to operate from sea, air or land. This was the beginning of the official Navy SEALs. Many SEAL members came from the Navy's UDT units, who had already gained experience in commando warfare in Korea; however, the UDTs were still necessary to the Navy's amphibious force.
During the manned space efforts of the late 60's and early 70's, UDT frogmen were the first to greet the newly arrived astronauts, after the space capsules plunged back to Earth.
The first two teams were on opposite coasts: Team One at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California and Team Two at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Virginia. The men of the newly formed SEAL Teams were educated in such unconventional areas as hand-to-hand combat, high-altitude parachuting, safe-cracking, demolition, and languages. Among the varied tools and weapons required by the teams was the AR-15 assault rifle, a new design that evolved into today's M16. The SEALs attended UDT Replacement training and they spent some time training in UDTs. Upon making it to a SEAL team, they would undergo a three-month SEAL Basic Indoctrination (SBI) training class at Camp Kerry in the Cuyamaca Mountains. After SBI training class, they would enter a platoon and train in platoon tactics (especially for the conflict in Vietnam).