Meet the Danish frogmen who shot down a boat full of pirates off West Africa

Danish students from the Frømandskorpset who passed the selection, obtaining the title of frogmen, in October 2021.


  • In November, a Danish frigate patrolling off West Africa sent a group of special operators to investigate a suspicious boat.
  • Frømandskorpset operators deployed by the frigate shot down the suspected pirates with no casualties.
  • It was a rare look at Denmark’s Frogman Corps, a little-known but highly skilled commando unit.
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In late 2021, a largely ignored incident off the coast of West Africa highlighted the deadly effectiveness of the Frømandskorpset, the Frogman Corps, which is the Danish equivalent of the US Navy SEALs.

In November, the Danish frigate Esbern Snare was on an anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Guinea in southern Nigeria when it received reports of suspicious activity nearby.

The Danish warship sailed to the area of ​​concern and found a small fast motorboat with nine men on board following merchant ships in the area.

Danish operators from the Frømandskorpset train with a rigid hull inflatable boat.

Casper Tybjerg / FKP

After positively identifying the men as pirates, the Esbern Snare deployed its contingent of frogmen aboard rigid-hull inflatable boats to interdict the motorboat.

After closing in, the Danes ordered the pirates to stop and finally fired warning shots so the special operators could board the motorboat.

The pirates returned fire and the Danish commandos returned fire, killing four pirates and wounding one with no casualties. The motorboat sank after the shooting and the pirates were taken aboard Esbern Snare.

The incident was a rare glimpse of one of the world’s lesser-known special operations units in action.

A few chosen ones

Danish Frømandskorpset candidates in training, January 2020.

Frommandskorpset/Casper Tybjerg

The Operator Selection and Training Course for the Frogman Corps is one of the most selective in the world with an incredibly high attrition rate.

Of the 500-600 candidates who volunteer for the course each year, only a handful make it through and graduate from the ranks of the frogmen. Since the unit’s inception in the late 1950s, there have been less than 400 frogmen.

The pipeline to becoming a Naval Commando takes approximately nine months and is based on the US Navy Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL and UK Special Boat Service training and selection processes.

There is a “week from hell”, during which students are pushed to their physical and mental limits, in addition to basic and advanced combat diving, airborne operations, small unit tactics and ground war.

Maritime counter-terrorism and much more

Danish Frømandskorpset operators break the surface during training.

Frommandskorpset/Casper Tybjerg

Given the small size of the Danish special operations community, the Frogman Corps is responsible for several different sets of missions, including maritime counter-terrorism, special reconnaissance, unconventional submarine warfare, direct action, close protection and visit, boarding, search and seizure.

Danish commandos also developed a reputation for anti-piracy operations. Danish frogmen recaptured a hijacked merchant ship in 2010.

As a member of NATO, Denmark works closely with US Special Operations units, often participating in joint exercises with Army Green Berets, Air Commandos, Navy SEALs and Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft operators.

Danish students from the Frømandskorpset are organizing a helicast training in September 2020.


Danish Frogmen “are top combat divers, and we train with them often. They’re a small community, but they’re tough, and young Green Beret combat divers are always learning new things from them. at joint training events,” said a retired Army Green. Beret, who requested anonymity to describe his experiences, told Insider.

Frogmen also attend American Special and Conventional Ops courses, including the U.S. Army Airborne School, Army Ranger School, and Special Forces Underwater Operations School.

Danish special operations units also fought in Afghanistan and developed a solid reputation for professionalism, discipline and tactical efficiency.

Glorious ancestors

A uniform patch bearing the emblem of the Frømandskorpset of Denmark.

Frommandskorpset/Casper Tybjerg

Established in 1957, the Danish Frogman Corps traces its origins to World War II and British special operations units that fought the Germans and Italians in North Africa and Europe.

In 1941, a British officer named David Stirling established the Special Air Service to conduct unconventional warfare and strategic reconnaissance operations behind Axis lines in North Africa.

The unit was so effective – at one point it had destroyed more German and Italian aircraft on the ground than the Royal Air Force – that the British Army decided to develop a maritime version of the SAS.

The idea had been promoted a year earlier, in 1940, by another enterprising British officer who persuaded the Royal Navy to create a special operations unit that would lead the fight against the Nazis on the coasts and rivers of Europe. busy.

A Danish Frømandskorpset operator in training aboard a ship.


Named Special Boat Section – later renamed Special Boat Service, which it still bears its name – the unit operated mainly around the islands and coasts of Italy and Axis-occupied Greece.

After suffering heavy losses in several operations in 1942, the SBS was absorbed into the SAS.

In a development unique to World War II, some troops whose countries were overrun by the Nazis served in British units. Major Anders Lassen, a Dane, was one of them and he became the only foreigner to win the Victoria Cross – the British equivalent of the Medal of Honor – during the war.

When the Frogman Corps was created in 1957, the new unit learned lessons and experiences from veterans who served with the SBS and used the knowledge and assistance of United States underwater demolition teams. , the ancestors of modern Navy SEAL teams.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a veteran of the Hellenic Army (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ) and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University.

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