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Navy SEAL training resumes after pandemic hiatus

The U.S. Navy's Special Warfare Center began training on Thursday for a new class of 180 Navy SEAL candidates, the first new training since the program was paused on March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by MCS1 Anthony Walker/U.S. Navy
The U.S. Navy's Special Warfare Center began training on Thursday for a new class of 180 Navy SEAL candidates, the first new training since the program was paused on March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by MCS1 Anthony Walker/U.S. Navy

June 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's Special Warfare Center resumed its SEAL training after classes were paused in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navy announced on Friday.

The Coronado, Calif., facility saw 180 SEAL candidates begin a physical exercise session at dawn on Thursday, the start of Basic Underwater Demolition training.

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Nine classes continued qualification training during the pause but no new classes were started. The restart is the first new SEAL training class since March 16.

"We took a conservative approach to properly assess our student population and establish protocols in order to minimize risk to them during training," Capt. Bart Randall, commodore of the center, said in a press release.

Instructors now wear face masks and gloves in group training events, and classes include social distancing to the greatest extent possible, the Navy said.

Daily screenings for the COVID-19 virus are also being performed, water bottles are regularly sanitized and food is only available at the base galley and eaten only during group meals.

The procedures keep the candidates in a "closed ecosystem," Randall said. "I want our students, instructors and staff to have the safest environment possible."

Navy SEALs are regarded as an elite combat force, and the pandemic has not compromised the training missions, Russell added.

"If any student shows signs of illness, we will pull them from training to be evaluated by medical professionals," he said. "We will take care of them and make sure they are healthy before getting them back in the fight."

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