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Coronavirus Safeguards In Place, Navy SEALs Reopen Training Pipeline

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas
First Phase Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs (BUD/S) candidates use teamwork to perform physical training exercises with a 600 pound log at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

The Navy SEALs are unfreezing their recruit training pipeline, announcing the reopening of the famous Hell Week and other portions of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, which was suspended over concerns for social distancing.

SEAL boot camp never closed, but for several weeks portions of the training was suspended on Coronado while the SEALs determined how to revamp BUDS to lower the risk of COVID-19, said Capt. Bart Randall, commodore of Naval Special Warfare Center.

Coronavirus Safeguards In Place, Navy SEALs Reopen Training Pipeline
Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.

All elements of training for SEALs and Special Boat Operator teams will open, even though not everyone is being tested for the virus at the moment. SEALS leaders are also not confident that tests will pick up all recruits who might have COVID-19 but may not be showing symptoms.

"No, testing’s not 100%, but I am confident with our constant medical assessments that we have with these students. You know, I’m not afraid to continue training, or if conditions should change, I will pause training,” he said.

Extra measures were put in place to lessen contact with instructors. Drill instructors will use megaphones. Despite the extra social distancing, SEALs were not able to revamp the close-contact training that highlights portions of the grueling BUD/S. Instead, the SEALs are relying on keeping each class isolated from the other, to lower the risk of cross contamination. So far, no SEAL or Special Boat Operator recruit has tested positive for the coronavirus.

During the slowdown, some new recruits were told not to report, while others were held at Naval Station Great Lakes, after going through Navyboot camp. SEAL and Special Boat Operator teams were not in danger of being undermanned. Coronado has been producing a higher number of special operators in recent years, Randall said.