Sharp-eyed observers have spotted U.S. Navy SEALs driving a new but familiar vehicle: modified versions of Yamaha personal watercraft. SEALs were also spotted using magnetic gear to scale the hull of a navy destroyer.
The exercise, held off the Greek island of Crete last October, was documented in a series of images that showed up on the Defense Video Imagery System, or DVIDS . It’s a popular site where U.S. military public affairs share pictures and video of ongoing military operations around the world. Many of the photos appearing on Popular Mechanics are sourced from DVIDS.
A series of photographs from the October 2017 joint Greek-U.S. Navy special operations forces exercise shows SEALs using several means to board the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Porter . The exercise documents divers underwater and also a SEAL aboard a personal watercraft (also known as a Jet Ski). According to defense journalist H.I. Sutton, author of Covert Shores: The Story of Naval Special Forces Missions and Mini-Subs , these are Yamaha 2016 FX Cruiser SHO watercraft operated by Navy Special Operations Command. The one visible in the water has been modified with an inflatable collar similar to those used by rigid inflatable boats. The collar appears similar to the Wing Inflatables SkiCollar, which is advertised as improving lateral stability, increasing shock absorption, and providing additional floatation.
Personal watercraft, as everyone knows, are loud and obnoxious. That said, they’re speedy, highly maneuverable, and capable of operating in shallow water. If you want to get somewhere on the water fast and don’t care who knows it, these vehicles are for you. Fitted with a device like a SkiCollar, one of these watercraft could ferry up to three heavily armed SEALs, who—when loaded down with armor, weapons, and ammunition—tend to weigh a lot more than the FX Cruiser’s 490-pound limit.
The magnetic climbing system, meanwhile, appears to be the REBS Magnetic Climbing System, which consists of a pair of shoes and hand grips. Fitted with magnets, MCS can allow the operator to scale sheer metal surfaces, like ship hulls, quickly and with relative ease. Interestingly, manufacturer H. Henriksen claims the system can be used by divers entering from water.
SEALs, the U.S. military’s maritime special operations force, have been busy conducting land-based missions in the post 9/11 era. As the tempo of those missions decreases, however, the Navy’s sea-air-land commandos appear to be going back to their roots. Watercraft and magnetic climbing gear could be useful in boarding vessels for inspection, such as ships smuggling goods to and from North Korea, or even infiltrating enemy warships. The SEALs are going back to sea.
Here’s a video of the Magnetic Climbing System in action up close: