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National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum [VISIT]



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TO GET ANY CLOSER, YOU’D HAVE TO ENLIST

The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum is located on North Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce, Florida, and is the only museum dedicated solely to preserving the history of the U.S. Navy SEALs and their predecessors. It resides on the site of the original training grounds of the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDU) and Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), also known as the “Frogmen.”

In early 1943, the Navy established the U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base (USNATB) in Fort Pierce, Florida. The training was conducted on the operation of landing craft and the demolition of underwater obstacles. U.S. Navy Seabees manufactured steel and concrete copies of enemy obstacles, which trainees promptly blew up. By the war’s end, some 140,000 trainees passed through, with approximately 3,500 trained in UDT operations. In 1946, like many World War II training bases, USNATB was closed. 

SEAL mural

If you’ve ever wondered where SEAL “Hell Week” originated, it was here in Fort Pierce. Lt. Commander Draper Kauffman requested the Navy shorten its eight-week fitness training program to one week. Before the first NCDU class started, Kauffman and his training cadre completed the first “Introduction Week,” as it’s officially called.

The Navy SEAL Museum opened on Veterans Day 1985, but the idea for a museum started years before. In 1981, the concept of a museum dedicated to the men who trained on the beaches of Fort Pierce was born. Retired SEAL Capt. Norman Olson was brought onboard to turn the dream into a reality, managing to get the Museum up and running on a shoestring budget. Once the site of a museum for pirate treasure, the building now honors the Navy SEALs and their predecessors.

SO, YOU WANT TO BE A FROGMAN?

As you pass through the museum gates, you’ll pass by the SEAL obstacle course. Take a chance and see if you have what it takes to become a Navy SEAL — actually, more like what it takes to even attend, much less pass, BUD/S training. If you don’t finish, you can always head to the “Dress like a SEAL” photo stop and at least look like a SEAL. Then, step into the museum’s theater and view videos of life as a SEAL and their grueling missions.

An obstacle course that mirrors the one used at BUD/S

UDT-SEAL MEMORIAL

The museum’s focal point is the Memorial comprised of the Memorial Wall, the Living Beach, the Memorial Garden, and the Naval Special Warfare K9 Memorial.

The Memorial Wall is the only memorial dedicated exclusively to the U.S. Navy SEALs and their predecessors. The names of all the Frogmen from WWII to today’s Navy SEALs who have died in combat and training are carved into black granite panels on the walls surrounding the sculpture and its reflecting pool.

SEAL Medal of Honor Statue

The Living Beach Twin 90 UDT SCUBA tanks contain sand from locations around the globe, representing the sites where Frogmen have fought, trained, bled, and died. 

Family and friends are encouraged to collect a small amount of sand from these locations and add them to the “beach” during the Navy SEAL Museum’s Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations. In homage to the original “Living Beach” at the Navy SEAL Monument in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the UDT SCUBA tanks are opened twice a year in remembrance of Navy SEALs and their predecessors. Long live the brotherhood.

M134 Minigun: The Minigun is a 7.62x51mm NATO six-barrel rotary machine gun with a rate of fire from 2,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute.

The museum unveiled its Memorial Garden and Living Beach on Memorial Day 2021 in remembrance of the fallen. The garden provides a place of solace and reflection, with flowers planted in the garden from everywhere around the globe where SEALs and their predecessors have died in training or combat. 

The K9 Memorial honors the combat assault dogs who have sacrificed their lives in the line of service to the country. The museum also acknowledges the service dogs providing support for our servicemen and women when they return home from combat. 

THE NAKED WARRIOR

The statue of the Naked Warrior guards the entrance to the National Navy SEAL Museum, portraying the elite men of the U.S. Navy’s UDT of WWII. These men went into battle equipped only with swim fins, a face mask, and a slate board with a lead pencil to record the intelligence they gathered.

The Naked Warrior depicts a typical World War II-era combat swimmer with no protective clothing against the elements. He’s armed with tools including a slate for communication, a lead line for recording depth, a demolition pack, and a knife for cutting explosive charge primer cords or for escaping from entanglements.

Their only weapon was a Ka-Bar knife to cut explosive charge primer cords or escape from entanglements such as netting or seaweed. He stands on a “horned scully” like those preserved at the museum, which were beach defense devices used extensively during WWII.

The predecessors to the SEAL teams were the UDT. The WWII gallery tells the SEAL story from the beginning — from the early days of the Scouts and Raiders, the Naval Combat Demolition Units, and the UDT, as well as the early battles of WWII to the Japanese surrender.

The history of the Frogmen starts here with photos and artifacts from the period donated by Fort Pierce graduates, SEAL veterans, and families of the fallen.

KOREA

A few years later, the UDT returned to battle and saw action in Korea. From the start of the Korean War to the Inchon Landings to the armistice in 1953, Navy UDTs laid the groundwork for expanded capabilities that’d eventually evolve into the Navy SEALs.

On January 1, 1962, SEAL teams One and Two were established by President John F. Kennedy, and the SEAL story began. Shortly after being established, SEAL Team One deployed CPO Robert Sullivan and CPO Charles Raymond to take initial surveys and prepare to train indigenous South Vietnamese in maritime operations tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Platoons from SEAL Team One and SEAL Team Two were assigned to a specific operating area in Vietnam and mainly operated autonomously. 

By mid 1968, the SEAL Teams were fielding 12-man platoons, each comprising two squads of six men. Most of the missions in Vietnam were squad-sized operations.

SEAL platoons were never assigned permanently to Vietnam but were sent on temporary duty assignments, generally for a six-month tour, and many SEALs made several tours.

THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR

The museum has multiple displays on the Global War on Terror, including a mockup of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which was donated to the museum in 2012 by CBS’s 60 Minutes after its use in a segment. Bin Laden was killed in Waziristan Haveli on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time by SEAL Team Six.

A mock-up of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was donated to the Museum in 2012 by CBS’s 60 Minutes after its use in a segment when bin Laden was killed in Waziristan on May 2, 2011.

On a nearby wall, a captured ISIS battle flag is displayed upside down to show the respect it deserves.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

SEAL is an acronym for sea, air, and land. The museum has an outstanding display of the various transportation systems operators used to accomplish their mission, from the Vietnam-era PBR (patrol boat, riverine) to a collection of multiple SEAL delivery vehicles to the modern Mark V Special Operations Craft. 

Also shown is a light tactical all-terrain vehicle (LATV) from Desert Storm and a Toyota Hi-Lux (Tundra) from the Global War on Terror. A Blackhawk helicopter is complete with an M134 Minigun that belches out 6,000 rounds of ammunition per minute, from the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), aka the “Night Stalkers” used during the SEAL rescue mission of aid workers Jessica Buchanan and Paul Thisted in Somalia.  

SEAL teams use very specialized equipment; if it wasn’t already on the shelf, they made it themselves. From the WWII Hagensen explosive pack invented by Lt. Carl Hagensen using eight socks, each containing 2.5 pounds of C2 explosive intended to destroy an obstacle with a limited amount of shrapnel, to the Stoner 63 Modular Weapons System, the SEAL museum has all the tools used by the U.S. Navy SEALs throughout their battles.

THE MAERSK ALABAMA HIJACKING 

On April 8, 2009, the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama cargo ship was seized by four Somali pirates in the Indian ocean. 

Maersk Alabama Lifeboat: On April 8, 2009, the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama cargo ship was seized by four Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The standoff culminated in a rescue operation that resulted in SEAL snipers killing three of the four captors while the fourth surrendered.

The Captain of the Alabama, Richard Phillips, was taken hostage aboard one of Alabama’s lifeboats. The standoff culminated in a rescue operation with SEAL snipers killing three of the four captors, while the fourth surrendered.

Interior photo of the Maersk Alabama life boat. Damage from the SEAL sniper fire is visible.

The actual Maersk Alabama lifeboat, bullet holes included, sits inside the main building for your inspection, donated by the shipping company.

THE APOLLO PROGRAM

You may remember watching the Apollo space capsules’ splashdowns and Frogmen being dropped off by helicopter to help with recovery. The actual training capsules for those missions are displayed here at the museum.

Apollo training capsules

A MUST-SEE

For those desiring to learn the history of the SEALs and their UDT predecessors or interested in becoming a SEAL, this is the ultimate experience.  

NATIONAL NAVY UDT-SEAL MUSEUM

  • ADDRESS: 3300 N. Highway A1A
  • North Hutchinson Island
  • Fort Pierce, FL 34949
  • HOURS OF OPERATION:
  • Closed Mondays, Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
  • PHONE: (772) 595-5845
  • URL: navysealmuseum.org

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1 Comment

  • David says:

    I went to this museum while in the area. It far exceeded my expectations. It was well worth my time and a great learning experience! I’ve recommended it to several friends.

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  • I went to this museum while in the area. It far exceeded my expectations. It was well worth my time and a great learning experience! I've recommended it to several friends.

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