Combat swimmer (Bundeswehr)

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Combat swimmers

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Combat swimmer activity badge
Lineup August 1, 1958
Country GermanyGermany Germany
Armed forces Bundeswehr Kreuz.svg armed forces
Armed forces Bundeswehr Kreuz.svg German Navy
Type Maritime special forces
Strength Should: 93
Insinuation COA SEK M.svg Navy Special Forces Command (KSM)
Location DEU Eckernfoerde COA.svg Eckernförde , naval base
motto Learn to suffer without complaining
equipment Infantryman of the future
Job badge BW activity badge Kampfschwimmer.png
Combat swimmer company military symbol

The combat swimmers of the German Navy form the maritime component of the Bundeswehr's special forces . Your area of ​​responsibility is broad and includes above all command missions in the course of near-coastal warfare. This means that they can be used in all elements: at sea, on land and airborne from the air, both by landing with helicopters and by freefall jump .


When the German Navy was set up in 1956, plans were made to set up a combat swimmer unit to prepare for amphibious landing operations in the rear of attacking units of the Eastern Bloc. On August 1, 1958, the training of the first combat swimmers began. These were soldiers who had served in the small combat units and the naval task forces during World War II . Responsible for the development and first commander was Lieutenant Commander Günter Heyden , a former Marine fighter the Navy and highly decorated head of the task force Heyden .

They were initially trained by the Nageurs de combat in France . During the Indochina War, the French had developed the role of the combat swimmer into a modern lone fighter. The first combat swimmer group was subordinated to the sea ​​battalion in Wilhelmshaven in December 1959 .

The combat swimmers were supposed to perform tasks both in the water and on land, just like the German combat swimmers in World War II. The use of the air as a parachutist was new . This triphibian concept of the French became the basis of the combat swimmers of the German Navy. Since 1972 there has been a personnel exchange program between combat swimmers and the United States Navy SEALs to further develop equipment, operational procedures and training.

On April 1, 1964, the combat swimmers were combined in an independent company that was subordinate to the amphibious group . The combat swimmers have been stationed at the Eckernförde naval base near Kiel since 1974 . In October 1991 they were subordinated to the flotilla of the mine forces and incorporated into the weapons diving group. As a result of a reorganization of the navy that began in 2001, the combat swimmer company has been under the Marine Specialized Forces (SEK M) since July 2003 . Since April 2014, the combat swimmers have formed the Naval Special Forces Command (KSM).

Since the establishment of the KSK in 1996, there have been other forces in the Bundeswehr that are comparable to combat swimmers in terms of training and equipment. Both special units complement each other and operate personnel exchanges in order to promote each other's skills and experience.


  • Fight against terrorism and hostage rescue
  • Asymmetrical warfare
  • Covert operations
  • Obtaining key information in war and crisis areas
  • Remote reconnaissance
  • Fight behind enemy lines against locks, ships and bridges
  • Fight against individual targets on land (especially in the opposing coastal area), against headquarters and telecommunications equipment
  • Evacuation, rescue and rescue operations
  • Defense against attacks on the high seas

Operations and training missions

In contrast to the combat swimmer units in other countries, no operations have yet become public due to the secrecy. However, experts assume that the German combat swimmers were the first German soldiers who were involved in combat operations after the Second World War .

Training missions and exercises not defined as combat missions

  • Training of African soldiers and own exercise as part of the "Mission Gazelle" in May 2019 and February and March 2020 in the Tahoua region in Niger .

Organization and leadership

The combat swimmer company has an estimated three platoons of 16 men each, which are referred to as the combat swimmer team (KSET), according to their strength and equipment certification. They are supported by a Task Force See belonging to the Combat Swimmer Company . This has armed rigid inflatable boats and other vehicles to transport combat swimmer teams to their location.

Independent combat swimmers' operations were conducted from 2005 to 2012 by the command for command of operations by special forces (KdoFOSK) and since then by the command and control command of the Bundeswehr and are secret. Combat swimmers can also be used to support naval operations; in this case they are managed within this organization.


The career of combat swimmers is referred to in the Navy as application group 3402 and, together with mine divers, belongs to the application series 34 weapon divers. In the Task Force See also soldiers of the seafaring and technical service with special training for the common use with the combat swimmers including a parachutist and a lone fighter training serve.

The prerequisite is to be a German within the meaning of Article 116 of the Basic Law ; the following conditions also apply:

  • at least 17, at most 29 years old
  • At least secondary school leaving certificate or secondary school leaving certificate and a completed vocational training for the career of boaters
  • at least the technical college entrance qualification for the career of officers
  • Commitment for 12 years as a boatswain and 13 years as an officer
  • Completed Basic Fitness Test
  • the suitability level T2
  • a bilateral uncorrected minimum visual acuity of 0.5


Basic training

Before a budding combat swimmer can begin his training, he must

  • have completed their general military training ,
  • have completed their NCO or officer training,
  • have completed the eight-week swim diving course in Neustadt / Holstein and
  • have at least six years of service ahead of them.

In the basic training, the basics of military diving are taught and the following training steps are completed, which can vary depending on the season:

The time of the indoor training serves to push the budding combat swimmers both mentally and physically to their limits and is therefore not to be understood as training, but rather as a further selection process during which most of the applicants fail. The program includes endurance runs, tests of courage, long-distance swimming, time and distance diving in apnea diving technique as well as 50 series of push -ups , sit-ups and squats . Most of the indoor training takes place in the diving training hall.
Use and open water
After the successful completion of the indoor training, the combat swimmer training comes. It takes place in open water. It is mainly used for diving and long-distance swimming in the Baltic Sea, which is much more difficult than in the indoor swimming pool due to different visibility and temperature conditions. The 30 km swim through the Baltic Sea concludes the training.
In combat swimmer tactics training, aspiring combat swimmers are taught infantry fighting, as well as sea ​​kayaking .

Further education

Training facility Certificate / course
  • Powerboat license
  • Demolition helper of the Navy on a diving mission
  • Driving license for motor vehicles BCE (cars, trucks, truck trailers)
Air landing and air transport school , Altenstadt
Special Operations Training Center in Pfullendorf
  • Reaction shooting for specialized forces
  • First aiders first aid course C
  • Survival course
  • Remote reconnaissance
Mountain and winter fighting school
  • Mountain and winter fighting
  • Fight in difficult terrain
further training units (based on this) for boatmen and officers
  • Marine explosives with diving use
  • Combat Swimmer Operations Manager
  • Combat swimmer squad leader
  • Skydiving training, manual
Internal training
  • Telecommunications training
  • First responder A
  • tactical aerial surveillance
  • Gun and shooting training

At the GSG 9 of the Federal Police , the combat swimmers learn shooting techniques for freeing hostages. Melee combat and psychology serve as anti-terrorist tactics .

This is followed by use in the combat swimmer company.


While combat swimmers operate near the coast, undetected and at shallow depths, other weapon divers are also used on the open sea and sometimes at greater depths. The only diving equipment used by combat swimmers is therefore an oxygen circulatory device, a so-called rebreather , which processes the exhaled air and releases only the smallest amount of gas into the environment so that the combat swimmer cannot be detected by rising bubbles. Accordingly, combat swimmers are camouflaged in every situation and have a wide range of weapons, e.g. B. the HK P11 pistol developed for underwater combat .

The diving equipment mainly includes those from the Poseidon company

  • Wetsuit Poseidon or Beluga
  • Wet and dry suit model Unisuit with non-magnetic zipper (longer dives, extreme temperatures, mine divers)
  • Three-piece wet suits (pants, top and hood), gloves and socks without a zipper, so that nothing on the suit can rub or the zipper no longer closes when it is defective
  • Poseidon Technica diving mask
  • Diving fins Barakuda Gigant or Poseidon Pro Fin
  • Buoyancy compensator Poseidon Luigi
  • Poseidon diving knife
  • Unidive Titan diving equipment among others
  • Dräger oxygen rebreather LAR VI (non-magnetic), oxygen bottle 200 bar, only up to a water depth of 12 m with up to 4 hours diving time;
  • Demand regulator Poseidon Cyclone 5000
  • Diving watches from Poseidon or IWC Ocean 2000
  • waterproof diving backpack MFC Survival Waterproof Large Backpacks and
  • Navigation board.

Similar units in other armed forces


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Combat swimmer: Frog in the sand . In: Der Spiegel . No. 14 , 1966, pp. 77 ( Online - Mar. 28, 1966 ).
  2. Wilhelmshavener Zeitung of December 2, 2009, p. 6.
  3. a b c Ingo Mathe: Task Force See of the Combat Swimmer Company - Unknown skills of the German Navy . In: Marineforum. 11-2011, p. 18 f.
  4. Federal Archives / Military Archives Stock BM 17 ( Memento of the original dated February 2, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Federal Archives / Military Archives Stock BM 14 ( Memento of the original from March 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ^ Friedrich Kuhn: Frogmen are supposed to protect the German naval ships. Spiegel Online, October 8, 2006, accessed March 8, 2009 .
  7. ^ Susanne Koelbl: One Couldn't Help but Feel like Lousy Comrade. Spiegel Online International, November 27, 2006, accessed March 8, 2009 .
  8. Timo Noetzel, Benjamin Schreer: Special forces of the Bundeswehr - structural requirements for deployment abroad. Science and Politics Foundation German Institute for International Politics and Security, September 2007, p. 26 , accessed on March 8, 2009 .
  9. Michael Schnack: The Heiligendamm Process. ISBN 3-86805-306-9 , p. 149.
  10. Combat swimmers of the Bundeswehr are supposed to paralyze pirate ships . In: Spiegel Online . March 4, 2012, accessed March 11, 2012.
  11. ^ Waldemar Geiger: Special forces training in Niger. In: ESUT - European Security & Technology. March 9, 2020, accessed on June 27, 2020 (German).
  12. Bundeswehr in the Sahel: Probably longer, maybe different? - eyes straight ahead! Retrieved June 27, 2020 .
  13. a b c d e Combat swimmer (male / female) - boatswain. Retrieved July 24, 2018 .
  14. a b c d e Combat swimmer (male / female) - officer. Retrieved July 24, 2018 .