Special Boat Unit - 26



Special Boat Unit - 26

1978-2002 - Special Boat Squadrons

Special Boat Squadron -1


Special Boat Squadron - 2

Special Boat Unit - 11

Special Boat Unit - 12


Special Boat Unit - 20

Special Boat Unit - 22

Special Boat Unit - 13

Special Boat Detachments


Special Boat Unit - 24

Special Boat Unit - 26

Last SBU-26 insignia patch

Special Boat Unit 26 was established in 1987, from its pre-runner unit Harbor Patrol Unit (HPU). It was subordinate to both USSouthCom and Special Boat Squadron TWO. Located at Rodman Naval Station Panama its mission was the defense of the Panama Canal Zone and Mobile Training Teams to Central and South American Countries. SBU-26 was the only WHOLE Special Boat Unit located outside the U.S. and was dis-established in 1999.
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One of our guys, Brent Stoker, was in a bad accident and is paralyzed and confined to a wheel chair. I'm hoping his shipmates could maybe call him and try to keep his spirits up. His phone number is 815-772-4793. I got all the information from John Thompson, so if I get more they can contact me here via email at cruisen2@hotmail.com
Thanks - Scott Cruse BM1{SW} ret  
(added 08-03-09)

10-18-07 Tim Chiles,... I was at SBU-26 from Sept 1991 to Sept 1995 and went "down range" to Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvadore, Columbia, Equedor, and Bolivia. We had several SBUs come down to SBU-26 to cross train. I remember when you and your guys came down in 94....."Chilly"
Tim Chiles on PBR MkII

More Chiles Photos
PB842 being closest to camera. We are at the log boom for the water range at Lake Gatun circ. 1992.We are getting our 25mm chaingun quals. The trainee is me the trainer is GMG2 York
  Cross training  SBUXI Rat sets up twin 50s with BFA setup on PBR MkII Plaque photo
 - Scott Cruise

Magazine article from Full Mission Profile - Centinelas de Rios Y Costas by Lt George Hogan, Jr., USNR, SBU-Twenty Six. Located at Pier 3 on U.S.Naval Station, Panama Canal, Rodman, Panama, is a command unique to the US Atlantic Fleet. Although it appears unassuming at first glance, the constant hum of activity soon makes even the casual observer aware there is more here than meets the eye.   Read More Here. (Require Adobe Acrobat)

07-12-07 Kevin O'Obrien    I served with SBU-26 at Rodman from 1990 to 1992. I was assigned as an ETC(SW), then transferred as a CWO2. LCDR Steven Siegel was my CO, and LT Brian Losey was the Exec. Good to know you guys are here. Hooyah!

Kevin O'Brien, CWO USN (RET) Huntersville, NC

01-18-09 Howie Nash QM1 (SW/CC)      Why SBU-26 was the Best     Itís no secret that it takes a greater amount of courage, commitment, and willingness to excel than the regular fleet sailor, when you volunteer for Combatant Craft

duty. Iíd say only about 5 % of those that volunteered didnít have what it took in the old days. Hey, someoneís gotta man the armory and the paint locker.     Read More Here.     More Howie Nash HERE
The Patrol Boat, Light or PBL, can trace its lineage back to the ďSkimmerĒ of the Vietnam Era. The Skimmer was generally a 13-15ft Boston Whaler, powered by a single outboard with an armed crew but no mounted weapons.  Read More Here.
Colombian Marine doing his laundry on the platform of a Columbian Armored CCB Hasty Retreat, Colombia Making that long turn, Rio Bita, Colombia Returning from patrol with the Colombians, RIo Orinocco Vic enjoying the Orinocco Sunset, Columbia
Ecuadoran assets. Note the Lantana RAC and that's the ex- USS Cherokee, and ATF in the back. Mike McGregor, Brian Wainscot and Lenny James Opps! Vic and Me inspecting the damage View of Equadorian Drydock
The boys before we replaced the lower unit TCB Baby! Vic Maisonet and the EC RAC Boys.JPG Sad ending for an old FRAM (Rio Guayas, Ecuador) EN2 Rudy Zapata, doin what he did best...gettin that PIG ready
HTCS (SEAL) Jose Trevino. My Patrol Officer Escorting the US Army 1097th Boat Company on the Rio Chagres Inserting the boys. That's a steep climb. Rudy, my engineer. I gave him my other blouse after this patrol. Jungle School candidate. He aint happy. Brian Smith standing took over my boat when I left
Lt Rich Good Mike McGregor, My partner in Crime. Mike McGregor's PBL 9105 with Lenny James gettin some. Now that's Tight! R-L BMCS(DV) Dave Wilson, ET2 Greg Adkins.
Mike was always fishin.        

NSW Riverine Programs in Latin America

SEALS and Special Boats in SOUTHCOM

The heavies of 26. L toR, MKIV PBs, 841,842,843, MKIIIPB 759. PBL 06 Command Boat from NAVSCIATTS (far right). Located at RodmanNavSta Panama. SBU-26 Building in background.   MKIV PB tranisited threw thru the Panama Canal. Ramo Raider - PBL Night Gunshoot Lake Gatun

PBL patrol Latest version of the PBL note arch modification and radar position.
SEALs and Boatguys the deadliest combo on water PBL carrying SEALs in Panama note name of Boat Grim
SBU-26's home turf.

PBR twin 50 gun mount. SBU-26 provided armed escort for Nuke submarines through Canal transits. SEALs inserted by PBR the other PBR
provides cover.
Gunner fires M60-E3 on PBMK-IV at twilight.
Panama provided SBU-26 the greatest Training and Op areas and live fire and explosives were the norm in training. PBLs in a simulated ambush. Responding with speed and

1993/4 photo of PBL on Lake Gatun
PBL patrol heading up river
Cap explosion at night. Hooyah Napalm!!! SBU-26 MTT in Columbia training the host nation crews on their own boats. SBU-26 "Down Range" in Bolivia working with the
"Blue Devils"

Down range in Columbia. SBU-26 on MTT was at it
Hot extraction Live fire EX. PBL with SEALs on board gunners lay down suppressive fire. Hot extraction Livefire gunshoot, With SEALs
gone on first PBL the cover boat PBL is laying down suppressive fire. Note 7.62 Mini Gun aft.
MKII PBR shows its maneuverability in a high speed
180 turn. Note weapons on board
SBU-26 supporting Air Ops on Lake Gatun.

Photos from Ted Walter

SBU-26 MTT in El Salvador a Lantana River Patrol Boat. Note Patrol Boats underway in background. SBU-26 MTT El Salvador patrol boats photo credit Ted Walther SBU-26 MTT note twin 50 cal Mgs on El Salvadore Patrol Boat.    

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The Harbor Patrol Unit (HPU) was established in Panama in 1975 originally drawing active duty Crewmen and Boats from both East and West coast Coastal River Squadrons during a time when the U.S. was worried Communism was establishing a foothold in Central America. Subordinate to USSouthCom, it's mission the defense of the Canal Zone in Panama. The Panama Canal was and is one of the worlds most Strategic waterways in the world and the HPU for years provided waterborne security that expanded into other missions. In 1987 HPU would be established as Special Boat Unit-26.

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The HPU Patch worn by the Boatguys HPU developed its own qualification patches... Blue Star was Combatant Crewman....Red Star was Boat captain.... White Star was Patrol Officer

Harbor Patrol Unit - Combat Craft Division - Naval Station Panama Canal

HPU - THE BEGINNING - 1978-1987

01-18-09 Iím QM1 (SW/CC) Howie Nash. I served in Harbor Patrol Unit (HPU), Combat Craft Division, Republic of Panama in the mid 80ís and SBU-26 of the same locale, in the early 90's.

THE BEGINNING       Around 1975-78, the expansion of Communism in Latin America was underway. The existence of Fidel Castro and his government in Cuba, the election of Salvadore Allende, a Marxist in Chile, the rise of Daniel and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the Civil War in El Salvador, was of great concern to the US government.   Read More Here.

LIFE IN THE LOCKS      HPU was started in 1978, primarily to provide High Value Transit (HVT) capabilities for US Navy vessels of sensitive nature transiting the canal. Most of these vessels where submarines due to their lack of defensive capabilities when surfaced and in highly restricted waterways. High profile ships, such as the Battleships, where also escorted through.   Read More Here.

Interesting Facts, HPU and SBU-26, Panama   HPU patch used to signify different levels of qualification was authorized locally in lieu of the Small Craft/POIC pin. I think between 1973 until late 1984 the pin was not authorized for issue. So, an OD patch with a silver PCF . . . Read More Here.

QM2 Howie Nash, PBR Boat Capt, 1984. 1984 Rt to L, Top- BMCS R. Sulenberger, FN Unknown, EN1 R. Curtis, GMG2 H. Mueller, QM2 H Nash, EN1 R Billetti. BTM- GMG2 L. Roop, ENFN J. Beavers, LT G. Spears, GMG3 D. Needham, LT K. Butler, LT D. Johnson First Group to receive POIC pin since the 70's. Rt to Lt - John Litchford, Howie Nash, Bobbie Pinkerton, Tom Slicker. Kindle Liberty 85. My First HVT as Boat Capt. (USS Iowa).
Official photo of PB842 taken by Howie Nash. Tom Craig enjoying his first time in the locks. PBR Lift. USMC RAC's 1992. EM1 Rob Harpel, The Last PBR Boat Captain.
Class of 85 Jungle Experts GMG Tom Craig, Mk56 Gunner and my Main Man on PBR's.jpg HVT early 90's. Rob Harpel & Henry Menzel after I 'ambushed' 'em on Rio Indio. RIo Congo
68PB841 crew Oct 86: L to R Top BM2 Brinkley, GMG2 Lee Estes, EM1 Luis Mutero, EN3 Steve Johnson
L to R Bottom  EN3 Mike McClure, QM1 Howie Nash, BM1 Kelly Webb
Frankenstein, First PBL built from scratch by HPU and NAVSCIATTS      

10-19-07 My name is Scott Cruse and I am a retired BM1[sw] who was stationed at U.S. Naval Station Rodman Panama Canal CZ from 1982 to 1988. I was attached to HPU as a Boat Crew member and upper gunner of PCF6 , then Boat Capt of PCF6 and later we became SBU 26.  more photos and stories here

HPU MKI and MKII PCFs escorting Sub through Canal. A HPU PCFMKII
A HPU PCF MKI in the Canal.
MKIIPBR and MKIPCF in Locks of Panama Canal
2 HPU PBRs and PCF transit through the Locks of Panama

PCFMk2 and PBL on Lake Gatun HPU Combatant Craft, PBR, PBL and PCF in Panama HPU PCFMKI note its modifications in weapons mounts and radar up-graded from the Vietnam version. Escorting Submarines and other Navy Capital ships thru the Canal would be known as a High Value Transit( HVT) Boatguys of HPU Panama. A good view of the MK-56 Twin 50cal gunmount on PCF MKII Ramo Raider PBL This craft was unusual as gunmounts could be relocated anywhere on a rail system.

U.S. Army rangers from Fort Sherman transist on HPU
Swift boat.
HPU Boat Captain checks alongside tow at speed of Army
Mars inflatable boat.
HPU PBL makes high speed run
HPU Boatguy on PCF ready to return fire with Blanks on exercise with Army
HPU Boatcaptain on PCF note OIC Qual Pin on Chest.

Added 07-23-08

Added 07-23-08        
PBLs make High Speed Run  in firing Blanks     



07-23-08 John Thompson.   I spent some time with BM-1 Scott Cruse in the Panama Canal Zone. I worked on every boat they had, PBR, PBL, PB etc...I was the only machinery repairman (MR) on Rodman at the time. It was great reading his article. Loads of memories. I was there when it was Combat Craft in 1985 and when it later changed to SBU-26. Many of the names in his article Commander Lucas, Webb,

Laconte, Fortier, Stoker, Manning...all good friends. I was there when SBU-26 and Unit-8 went to war during "Operations Just Cause". I spent some time with Unit-8 during combat operations, and later weapons recovery. Plenty of war stories to tell. I retired as a Senior Lockmaster in the Panama Canal Commission in 1996. I really enjoyed your web site. Great!! 

Best Regards, John Thompson  Tel: 985 446-2083

SBU-26 operating in Gatun Locks Panama Canal

(12-20-09) Jim,  That's Kelly driving, alright. The kid on the bow is EN3 Danny Libbell. I can,t recognize the guy with Glasses. The Guy in the Blue and gols looks like the subs SAR swimmer. The location would bee the Gaillard Cut known today as the Culebra Cut. To us, It was just "The Cut"

    Ramo Raider MKIV PB   

Added 12-11-2010        
Patch of the Panama Campaign

SBU-26 boyz in the jungle

PBR Coxswain

Boats of SBU-26 PBMKIV PBR MKII and PBL too bad guns not mounted

Bill Harris on PBL


(Added 01-24-2011) Thomas Muir, ENC SWCC , Patrol Officer PB, PBR, PBL Retired  -  I was with SBU26 From Sep 87 to Oct 91  And also Feb 95 to Feb 98 When i retired. tommuir091959@hotmail.com


Operation Just Cause History

PBR Boyz of SBU-26 Hot Extraction of SEALS on PBL PBL with Mini Gun on stern

(below added 04-21-2011)        
PBR MKII Note MK-19 on Aft Mount PBRMKII in Panama Great study of a The classic PBR MKII Crusin' the Canal

PBR MKII in Panama Canal

Is That Nasty Nash?? Driving the PBMKIV in Hot Panama PBMKIV and PCF and PBR and PBL leave to  conduct a HVT. a Ramo Raider putting on a Demonstration. Good study of Ramo Raider
HVT in the Canal           

(added 06-24-2011)      
SBU-26 Rat and guns guns guns on PBR MkII SBU-26 Coastal Div. PBs MKIVs and a III PB MKIV escorting a Big Boy "The Fog of War" at the Log Jam Jungle School Record Holders
Harold Ross and da BOYZ SBU-26 PBIV in Rough Sea one of the joys of Coastal Div 26 PBL nesting with USMC RACs SBU-22 came down and worked with  82nd ABN on Chagres River PBL in the Narrows Chagres River
26 Boyz on PBL with the Bimini top up. SBU22's the Griff EN1 Griffen USMC RAC and 26 PBL in 1993   SBU-26 Gunshoot at the log jam

(07-20-2011)  Ray Ashcraft EN1 - I arrived at HPU in 1982 as a EN2 and boats engineer on a PCF under CPO Bill Pressler. I attended the Army's Jungle Warfare School, with CPO Tony Laconte and about 12 others.  Giant 100 photo page here.

(Added 05-30-2012) Jim Vann photos

My skull and boom box and 45 Pistol and a truck steering wheel. Firing blanks with M-60 on MATC. Live fire 50cal on MATC Panama 1997. MATC makes firing run in Panama.

The Det Skull. I still have to remind me when I was cool!

Det Bravo Billy G-Money Gordon on MATC in the Locks.

Rounds expended, a good day. Doc, Willie Dockery was the Best Engineer in world but the worst Line handler.

HTV view from a MATC. Me on a PBL flying down river in Bolivia. PBL 1997.

SBU-26 PBMKIV sporting a new Cammo 1997. 


SBU-22 MATC det in Panama Oct-Dec DET Alpha Jan-Mar Det Bravo GM2 Tomlin Boatcaptain. RIP Tomcat.


(added 10-29-2012) Brad Oliver 1990-1991

Nesting PBRs Truck ride with the Boyz Puerto Bello PBR in the Panama jungle NAVSCIATTS and Noreigia's yachts
Captured Noreigia' Yacht Deep in the Chagris River You'll never forget the Jungle Going up the Chagris Lunch
PBR insertion Rodger Edison and Robert Harpell going thru the Locks Deeper in This and Vampire Bats at Night Brad Oliver

(added 10-29-2012) Hoop Adams, ET3, HPU 1981-1984
MCPO Strewart PCF-MK1  High Value Escort

HV Escort 2

Trip to Honduras
I must have past this sign 80 times in the 4yrs I was at HPU

Inside a PCF Wild Bill's way of maintaining a tight boat

After a Long Hard Day of being a Bad Guy Time to grill a dead bird .. as the ARMY marches off

PBR surfing the Swifts wake


In the Locks on PCF. Sam Green on Con and Myself and Lance  Shadle handling lines for the lock ride.

My Position in Transit .. love my Twins. Twin 50 Cal MGs on PCF Transit back to Rodman after Ops with Tony LaConte The ARMY wouldn't play in the rain so we went fishing BMC "Wild Bill" Pressler Barnes, Forbes and Spanky
(added 01-22-2013)    

First Navy females to go thru the ARMY's Jungle Expert Training. EN3 Vicky Phelps, GMG2 Kathy Schwartz, EN3 Linda Giberson, FN Terry Cyrus

  An SBU-26 PBR does a Board and search on Tramp steamer in Panama during Just Cause.    

(added 04-22-2013)
John Gerving
  A Puppy and Little girl during Board and Search  during Op. Just Cause. PBR Crew post Op. Captured Noriga Yacht. SBU-26 Rat picture from Hoop Adams.

(added 02-16-2014)
John "Taco" Juarez
  Just Cause T-shirt Back Just Cause T-shirt Front NAVISCIATTS  Panama T-shirt Just Cause NAVSCIATTS T-shirt

photo credit Douglas Maldonado
(Added 02-12-2018)


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