The Special Boat Service, SBS, is a British Royal Navy élite unit created in 1940 by Commando officer Roger Courtney as the Folboat Troop, so named after the type of folding canoe employed in raiding operations; in January 1941, the Folboat Troop was renamed No1 Special Boat Section, and in December 1943, when the second section of this special forces was formed, it was renamed the Special Boat Squadron (SBS). So, during World War II, there were Nº1 SBS and Nº2 SBS, which worked with the 1st Submarine Flotilla based at Alexandria, carrying out beach reconnaissance of Rhodes, evacuating troops left behind on Crete and a number of small-scale raids and other operations in the Mediterranean area. In March 1943, the Special Boat Squadron conducted beach reconnaissance operations for the Salerno landings and a raid on Crete, before moving to Ceylon to work with the Special Operations Executives, Force 136 and later with Special Operations Australia.
In 1961, during the Indonesian Confrontation, SBS teams carried out reconnaissance missions. In 1982, they were deployed to South Georgia after the Argentina had invaded the Falkland Islands; also during this conflict, in May 1982, a 25-men team conducted a night raid on Fanning Head, successfully clearing this high rocky ridge of Argentinian mortar and machine gun nests which threatened the British San Carlos Bay landing operations. In 1987, the Special Boat Squadron was renamed Special Boat Service, becoming part of the United Kingdom Special Forces group alongside the Special Air Service and 14 Intelligence Company. In 1991, during Gulf War, the SBS carried out several operations in Kuwait and Iraq. This élite navy unit also saw combat action in Operation Enduring Freem from December 2001, and in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The British Navy Special Boat Service is composed of five squadrons: 1) C-Squadron, which conducts swimmer and canoe operations; 2) M-Squadron, counter-terrorism operations and ship-boarding; 3) S-Squadron, water borne craft and mini-sub operations; 4) X-Squadron, which is a new squadron formed from volunteers from the SAS and the SBS; and 5) SBS Reserve, which consists of reservists to serve with the regular SBS squadrons, rather than forming independent teams. Only candidates with military experience are eligible to enlist in the SBS Reserve.
Special Boat Service (Video)