british special forces
UKSF SAS SBS SRR 14 Int SFSG E Sqn 18 (UKSF) Sigs Royal Marines Paras Pathfinders Aviation RAF Regt Gurkhas Artillery BRF EOD Intel Police
▼ share this page
note: content has been moved to this section

Special Boat Service (SBS) - Organisation

The Special Boat Service is organised into 4 squadrons C, X, Z and M.

Squadrons are organised into 4 16-man Troops. Troops are often broken down into 4-man patrols, 2-man canoe teams or 8-man teams (a typical boat-full). In recent Afghanistan operations, the SBS has reportedly been operating in larger teams, sometimes at full Squadron strength - see the page on Hunting Mulla Dadullah for an example.

It was once the case that the squadrons specialised in certain roles.

  • The men of C & X Squadron were specialists in canoe and small boat operations. Utilizing 2-men klepper canoes, and various inflatable boats for stealth insertion and extraction, they carry out reconnaissance and sabotage missions along coastlines, river networks and up to 40 miles in land.

  • Z Squadron specialised in underwater attack and insertion using swimmer delivery vehicles.

  • Trained for Maritime Counter-Terrorism (MCT) operations, the men of M Squadron were on standby to respond to deal with the threat of terrorism on ferries, cruise ships, hovercraft, oil tankers and oil rigs.
It is now beleived that the SBS squadrons rotate into these roles, probably on a 6-month basis.

Other elements within the SBS include:

Training Wing.

Carries out all training not covered by an SBS recruit's initial continuation training with the SAS.

Operational Research & Devlopment

Like the SAS Operations Research Cell, this special sub-unit of the SBS is responsible for devloping and evaluating equipment and procedures that to pertain to the SBS's role. This may include things like the development of waterproof flashbangs for the MCT role or testing a new SDV.


A reserves element, SBS(R) augments the regular SBS, with individual SBS(R) members working integrated into regular SBS formations.

more info: SBS (R)

SBS Command Structure

Whilst technically part of the Naval Service (Royal Marines and Navy) order of battle (ORBAT), the SBS comes under the umbrella of United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF), commanded by the Director Special Forces (DSF). UKSF is a directorate that combines several units under one command structure. The SBS, along with the British Army's 22nd Special Air Service (SAS) and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) are the so-called 'teir one' special forces. Tier one special forces are supported by the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), 18(UKSF) signals and the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing (JSFAW).

The Special Boat Service is usually commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel with a Major as second in command.

Each SBS squadron is commanded by an Officer, usually a Royal Marines Major or Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander. Recent reports have stated that a lack of Officers from the Naval Service wishing to command SBS units has led to a number of SAS Officers being drafted in.

SBS Troops are usually commanded by a Captain.

« back to main SBS page

facebook facebook youtube
RM Green Team
Green Team
Royal Marines Boarding Team
view: RM Green Team
42 Commando Vikings
SFSG Marksman
SFSG soldier armed with HK417 rifle
view: SFSG Marksman
Squadron Reconnaissance Team (SRT)
view: 539 ASRM SRT


Share this page:

not endorsed by or affiliated with the ministry of defence | all information is non-classified & sourced from public domain |

all images are for educational purposes and sourced from the public domain where possible - image policy | privacy policy