COMSUBIN – Special Forces of Italian Navy

Author: Eric Sof

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Italy has always been one of the pioneers when it comes to naval assualt uints. They have a great history from both WWI and WW2. The assualt unit of today is called Commando Raggruppamento Subacqui ed Incurisori, but is better known under the name COMSUBIN. It is a 200-man strong elite unit with the Italian Navy.

Comsubin is divided into two section a Raid and a frogman section. The missions they carry out are mostly clearing mines, explosive and underwater obstacles; reconnaissance on friendly or foreign territory; clearing beaches for amphibious landings and commando raids on enemy naval installations.

The 200-man strong COMSUBIN is an all-volunteer unit. The volunteers are mostly from the Italian Marine battalion San Marco. To enter the COMSUBIN one has to complete 10 months a training program that includes ranger, parachute, hand-to-hand, demolition and weapons training. For those who want to be a part of the Raiders group as to complete an additional 42 week long course.

The COMSUBIN has been involved in Counter-Terrorist operations. The first rumors of this came to the surface in 1978, and again a year later.

History of COMSUBIN

Italy was the first nation to use frogmen and human torpedoes. The Italian Naval Assault Divisions are considered to be the precursors to modern Naval Special Forces. Their record can be traced back to World War I and the operation against the Austrian-Hungarian Battleship Viribus Unitis in Pola Harbour in 1918. Other famous operations are Trieste, Suda Bay, Alexandria, Gibraltar, and Malta. Great Britain and Germany soon followed. Italy’s frogman group originated in 1938 as the 1a Flottiglia Mezzi d’Assalto (1st Flotilla Assault Vehicles), which was reformed in 1940 as the Decima Flottiglia MAS (10th Flotilla Assault Vehicles, X MAS).

It is a matter of pride that Italy’s Naval Special Forces pre-date both the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Teams, formed in 1943 and forerunners of the better-known U.S. Navy SEALs, and the British Royal Marines Special Boat Service formed as an offshoot of the Special Air Service in 1941.

Stationed: Naval Base Varignano, near La Spezia.
Weapons: use the same weapons as other Italian units.

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