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A UK Special Forces Unit

Group.png SBS
Motto By Strength and Guile
Formation 1940
Parent organization British Army, United Kingdom Special Forces
Type military
Headquarters Poole, Dorset
Wikipedia page Special Boat Service

Special Boat Service (SBS) - UK Special Forces

The SBS is a Special Forces unit of the British Royal Navy. It is closely related in its functions, and command hierarchy to the British Army Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment.

Based in Poole, Dorset, the unit specialises in special operations at sea, along coastlines and on river networks. The Unit also keeps a team on standby for maritime counter-terrorism operations.

SBS Command Structure

The Special Boat Service is usually commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel. 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 21 and 23 SAS (reserves), the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), 18(UKSF) signals and the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing (JSFAW). 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. Squadrons are organised into 16-man Troops, each usually commanded by a Captain. Troops are often broken down into 4-man patrols, 2-man canoe teams or 8-man teams (a typical boat-full). [1]  

Related Document

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TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
UK Intelligence And Security Report, 2003reportJune 2003Richard M. Bennett
Katie Bennett
A compendious summary of the UK Intelligence And Security agencies, including people, events and places.


  1. Unofficial SBS web site