JOHN C. STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NNS) -- Special Boat Team (SBT) 22, the only command in the Department of Defense specifically designated to conduct special operations in riverine environments, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new $9.7 million riverine operations facility (ROF) May 21.
"This riverine operations facility is one of many major milestones in Naval Special Warfare's (NSW) long and continuous evolution toward establishing Stennis Space Center (SSC) as NSW's center for maritime training and riverine warfare," said SBT-22 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Bob Lyonnais.
"As SBT-22 itself has grown, the support of the local community has become increasingly important. We are proud be part of Stennis Space Center and southern Mississippi. A SOF (special operation forces) truth is people are more important than hardware and that is true here. None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support from NASA, the State Congressional Delegation, state and local governments, community and business leaders, and, most importantly, the people of southern Mississippi and Louisiana themselves. We look forward to continuing to forge our strong relationships."
The ROF consists of two structures. The 15,898 square foot riverine operations building and 24,779 square foot combatant craft building provide permanent riverine operations space and will directly contribute to upgrading the training capability and mission readiness of SBT-22.
The new facility has state-of-the-art storage for tactical gear, offices, planning areas, classrooms, and other personnel support areas to meet increasing training requirements. Both of these buildings are designed to be extremely energy and water efficient, keeping in line with Department of Defense guidelines for environmental stewardship.
The ROF is essential because of the growth of SBT-22. Since 2005, the command has increased the number of special warfare combatant-craft crewmen by 68 percent. This additional manpower is part of the evolution of SBT-22 that began in 1998, when the team was comprised of approximately 70 personnel, a disparate fleet of Vietnam-era craft, several trailers in the parking lot of the ammunition plant, and a converted World War II berthing barge as its operations center.
When complete, the ROF will be the eighth and ninth modern buildings rated to withstand a category 5 hurricane in the NSW Stennis compound.
The two NSW commands here, SBT-22 and the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, have more than 400 permanently assigned personnel and more than 40 riverine craft, 24 of which are the special operations craft - riverine, an incredibly specialized and highly armed riverine assault craft.
The increase in training and growth of the NSW presence on SSC is directly related to the location and increase in demand for a riverine skill set. SSC has access via the Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Pontchatrain and most importantly the Western Maneuver Area, which allows for live-fire training.
For more news from Naval Special Warfare Group 4, visit www.navy.mil/local/nswg4/.