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Special Forces Boat Operators (SFBOs)

The Special Boat Service (SBS) is supported by specially-trained Royal Marines coxswains from the Surface Manoeuvre Group (SMG), based at RM Poole. Special Forces Boat Operators (SFBOs) pilot the various boats used to transport the SBS into action.

Boats operated include:

  • Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs)
  • Medium Range Insertion Craft (MRIC)
  • Long Range Insertion Craft (LRIC)

The various mission profiles performed by SFBOs include Maritime Counter Terrorism, Maritime Interdiction, medium range insertion and long range insertion operations.

Surface Manoeuvre Group Organisation

Open source info on the the Surface Manoeuvre Group is pretty thin on the ground. The waters are further muddied by references online to a Maritime Manoeuvre Squadron (MMS) and Maritime Manoeuvre Wing (MMW), both of which deploy SFBOs in support of UKSF. In all likelihood the MMS and MMW are elements of the SMG or previous/alternative names for the organisation.

Precise composition of the SMG is not publicly known, but it appears that SFBOs organise into troops/teams corresponding to their role and type of craft operated ie Maritime Interdiction Troop, Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Troop, MRIC teams, LRIC teams etc.

SFBO Selection & Training

Special Forces Boat Operators will typically have served for several years as a Landing Craft Specialist with 1 Assault Group Royal Marines (1AGRM). Potential SFBOs must pass a selection course before moving on to training, which includes the SF Boat Operators' Course.

Special Forces Boat Operators are trained in the various water-borne insertion techniques that the SBS use such as parachuting out to sea and deploying from submarines and Chinooks.

Royal Marines RIB
The SBS and SFBOs with the Maritime Manoeuvre Squadron are experts in various methods of insertion and extraction techniques such as inserting RIB teams via 'underslinging', as shown here.
photo by LA PHOT HAMISH BURKE © UK MOD / Crown Copyright 2013
used under open government licence

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A rare autobiographical account of life in the SBS and 'The Det'. One of the best Special Forces memoirs you can read.

more info: First Into Action
(amazon.co.uk)
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