The Coronado Historical Association will be hosting a panel Nov. 16 to talk about the history of the Underwater Demolition Teams and SEAL Teams One and Two.

The Coronado Historical Association will be hosting a panel on Nov. 16 to dive into the history of the Underwater Demolition Team and SEAL Teams One and Two as they approach their 62nd anniversary. 

The Underwater Demolition Team was the predecessor of the Navy SEALs and were eventually absorbed by the SEALs with the last Underwater Demolition Teams reorganizing into SEALs by May 1983, records show. 

It started with SEAL Team One, which was created in January 1962 and placed at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, while SEAL Team Two was placed in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The teams were all made of members who had come from Underwater Demolition Teams. 

SEAL Teams One and Two. Photo provided by Dan’l Steward.

Former SEALs to discuss unique history

Even though the UDT does not exist anymore, SEALs still practice the skills that are needed for that role, as they continue to operate as amphibious teams. 

And now, almost 62 years later, Coronado will be inviting a group of former SEALs to discuss the unique history of this part of America’s military. 

The panel includes retired Naval Commander Roger Clapp, retired Naval Commander Donald Crawford, retired Naval Captain Joseph Quincannon, his wife  Alana Quincannon, and retired Naval Captain Dan’l Steward as the moderator. 

“Back in World War II, UDT was unheralded, it wasn’t recognized for its true value,” Steward says in a phone call with The Coronado News.

Mission of UDT

Steward served as platoon commander, Executive Officer and finally Commanding Officer of SEAL Team One from 1978 to 1994. 

The UDT’s job was to do hydrographic reconnaissance, to figure out the conditions of the beach to land on, the waters leading up to the beach, says Steward.

They didn’t have weapons or ammunition, and their job was to bring in demolitions and destroy whatever was there in order to make way for the boats that were bringing in the troops. 

Retired Naval Captain Dan’l Steward will be the moderator for this special panel. Photo from the Coronado Historical Association.

“We had success in the Pacific, North Africa and D-Day, those three huge evolutions in World War II, all of those were preceded by Frogmen being in the water and investigating the conditions,” says Steward, Frogmen being the term for those in the UDT. “And then just prior to a landing, going out and blowing up the obstacles.”

UDT absorbed by SEALs

When the UDT was absorbed by the SEALs, Steward says the skills were very complimentary; when SEAL training first started up in the 1960s, SEAL members would train with SEALs for a couple years, then train with the UDT for a couple years and then come back to train with the SEALs. 

SEALs need to keep one foot in the water and one foot on land at all times.”

-Retired Naval Captain Dan’l Steward quoting an admiral.

“It was cross-pollinated,” says Steward. “I’ll quote one of our first admirals, and his justification that he explained to everybody was ‘SEALs need to keep one foot in the water and one foot on land at all times.’”

Event details

The event will be held at the Coronado Historical Association on 1100 Orange Ave. with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and the panel starting at 6:00 p.m.

The cost is $15 for members, and $20 for non-members. Capacity is limited and reservations are required. 

If you have any questions please email or call (619) 435-7242.

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Madeline Yang is a reporter for The Coronado News, covering the City of Coronado, the U.S Navy and investigating the Tijuana/Coronado sewage issue. She graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with her Bachelors in Journalism with an emphasis in Visual Storytelling. She loves writing, photography and videography and one day hopes to be a filmmaker. She can be reached by phone at 916-835-5843.