Like a lot of you, I enjoy watching anything having to do with Navy SEALs.
Even though many of them share a lot of similarities, I always seem to learn something I’d never heard before.
There are dozens of documentaries on SEALS on internet platforms like Amazon and Youtube, and even a few that are still available on DVD and even VHS.
I spent the last week watching just over 10 hours of Navy SEAL documentaries, here were my personal favorites.
6.) US Navy SEALs: The Silent Option
Run Time: 1 hr. 29 min.
Release date: Unknown
While growing up as a kid in New Jersey, one of the first Navy SEAL documentaries I ever saw was called US Navy SEALs: The Silent Option.
I’ve actually watched it so many times that years later I can still quote certain parts of it.
This is actually one of the only documentaries on this list that spends a considerable amount of time examining the history of the Navy SEALs.
It actually includes one of my all-time favorite SEALs: Hershel Davis.
If you’ve seen this documentary before, you’ll know who I’m talking about.
In any event, the documentary goes on to talk about things like:
- Locking out of a submarine (SDV ops)
- Types of weapons SEALs carry
- Tactics used
- Certain missions
- Ranks and pay
- Training (BUD/S)
- Close Quarter Battle (CQB)
They show them training for deployments, and Navy Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (aka SWCC) even makes an appearance.
The one noticeable thing about this entire documentary is that there isn’t one mention of SEAL Team 6.
This isn’t surprising, given that it came out well before TEAM 6 became a household name.
How Can I Watch “US Navy SEALs: The Silent Option”?
It’s one of the oldest, if not the oldest, SEAL documentary I’ve ever seen.
In fact, it’s so old that it’s sold on Amazon Prime as either a DVD or Blu-Ray.
Luckily, you don’t have to actually buy it.
While it used to be available on Youtube, it was recently removed due to a copyright claim.
With that said, you can now watch it on Tubitv.com, here’s a link.
5.) The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden
Run time: 77 Min.
Release date: Nov. 11, 2014
“The Man Who Killed Osama Bin Laden” is a 2 part Fox News series that aired in late 2014.
It’s an interview-style documentary that examines the life of Rob O’Neill, the man who fired the fatal shot into Bin Laden.
Part 1 starts off with a visit to O’Neills’ hometown in Butte, Montana, and quickly gets in to his time at BUD/S, his assignment to a SEAL team, and ultimately becoming a SEAL sniper.
Fun Fact: Oneill originally wanted to join the Marines, but when he showed up at the recruiting center the Marine recruiter wasn’t there.
Ultimately, it gets in to the real reason why O’Neill joined up with SEAL Team 6…9/11.
He talks about serving with Team 6 in Iraq and Afghanistan, his involvement in the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, and ultimately, the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.
It’s a very interesting documentary, and is one of the best SEAL documentaries regarding Operation Neptune Spear I’ve ever seen.
In fact, on O’Neill’s own website he claims that it’s the most watched documentary on Navy SEALs in Fox News Channel history.
Judging by the view count on Youtube, that wouldn’t surprise me.
How To Watch “The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden”
You can find the full documentary on Youtube, which I’ve put both parts below:
4.) Until It Hurts
Run time: 67 min.
Release date: Oct. 21, 2015
This documentary is all about the 79 fallen SEALs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
It details the art creation of a former SEAL sniper named David Hall, who was looking for a way to honor the SEALs that have been killed in action since 9/11.
Those SEALs include famous ones such as:
- Danny Dietz: Who was killed on the ‘Lone Survivor’ mission
- Nate Hardy
- Michael Koch
- Jeff Lucas
His piece of art involved shooting at a target at exactly 911 yards away, with each bullet representing one of his fallen comrades.
Ultimately, they named this piece of art “Until It Hurts” after an article published in the LA Times in 2003.
The title of that article is “A Small Town Gives Until It Hurts”.
Hall, who was one of the first Navy SEALs in Afghanistan after 9/11, details a sniper mission that involved reconnaissance of enemy emplacements.
It was during this mission that he suffered a major injury resulting from enemy action, ultimately taking him out of the fight.
The documentary ends with retired NYPD officer Pasquale Sementilli and how he lost 2 of his best friends on 9/11: Joe Vigiano (NYPD) and John Vigiano (FDNY).
Both of these men responded to the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11, and both ultimately perished.
The whole documentary is a very touching story, and one I highly recommend watching.
How Can I Watch Until It Hurts?
This particular documentary is available for viewing on Youtube, check it out below:
3.) Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story
Run time: 113 min.
Release date: November 2014
Narrated by actor Gary Sinise, this documentary explores the secret history of Navy SEALs.
It starts off with their colorful history, going all the way back to the Naval Combat Demolition units of World War II.
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It then moves on to their history throughout nearly every major conflict the US has even been involved in; The Korean War, Vietnam, Grenada, Somalia, and Iraq / Afghanistan.
One of the most interesting parts of the documentary is the story about Tom Norris and Mike Thornton.
I won’t get into it here, but it’s true story of heroism in the face of danger.
Both received the Congressional Medal of Honor, of which only 3 Navy SEALs in the entire Vietnam War ever received.
I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the full history of Navy SEALs, as well as inside details on some of their harshest missions.
How Can I Watch Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story
You can watch the full documentary on Youtube below:
2.) The Secrets Of SEAL Team 6
Run time: 44 min.
Release date: July 10, 2011
Secrets of SEAL Team 6 was a documentary featured on NBC in 2011, shortly after the Bin Laden raid.
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The whole documentary is exactly what it sounds like; it details some of the things we never knew about the Navy’s counter-terrorism group.
Without giving away any real secrets, of course.
They talk about how it was founded, their funding, command structure, and some of their weapons.
Of course, no SEAL documentary would be complete without a brief examination of what it takes to become a SEAL: Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training, or BUD/S.
They describe how all SEAL Team 6 operators, and regular SEALs alike, have to pass what some consider the toughest military training on Earth.
Some of the secrets discussed include:
Selection to begin training
They actually take a picture of your face and put it in a long corridor in DEVGRU headquarters.
Current SEAL Team 6 members that have interacted with the prospective member can put either a check mark or an X next to each candidates photo.
That’s even to just begin training, not actually be a member.
Green Team is essentially the training program all prospective SEAL Team 6 members go through to become a Team 6 operator.
It’s a significantly more stressful type of training that is designed to judge a students mental abilities, more so then his physical ones.
In this phase, they will actually do live-fire exercises in simulated hostage rescue missions.
It can be so dangerous that some trainees have actually died during training.
The whole documentary is a really good description of what really makes SEAL Team 6 light years ahead of the competition.
How Can I Watch “Secrets Of SEAL Team 6”?
Luckily, this is another one of those SEAL documentaries that is available on Youtube.
You can watch the full documentary below:
1.) BUD/S Class 234
Run time: 286 min.
Release date: August 7, 2007
By far, the best (and likely most famous) Navy SEAL documentary of all time is “Navy SEALS: BUD/S Class 234”
Aired by the Discovery Channel in 2000, BUD/S Class 234 is a 6 hour series that follows 80 candidates of Class 234 in their quest to become US Navy SEALS.
Talk to any aspiring SEAL, and he’ll probably tell you he’s watched the documentary over 100 times.
I know I did…So much so that I actually wrote a blog post detailing where they all are now.
This particular documentary is divided up into 6 parts:
Part 1: Welcome To BUD/S
Phase 1, day 1 is where it all begins. Students are physically and mentally tested through a series of specially designed exercises.
From their first run of the O-Course, to finding out what “wet and sandy” really means, this first part introduces you to the rigors of what these men will be faced with for the next 6 months.
Part 2: It Pays To Be A Winner
Part 2 is similar to part 1 in the sense that more of the same training evolution are shown.
There’s the O-Course, surf passage, push ups, and the often-dreaded 50 meter underwater swim.
Throughout this entire part, plenty of students begin to “wash out” of the training.
Students are also beginning to learn that no man is an island…
The only way you can make it through BUD/S is by acting as part of a team.
It also pays to be a winner, as you’ll see why in this part.
Part 3: Two Weeks And A long Day
The first three weeks of First Phase are known as “two weeks and a long day”.
The ‘long day’ is Hell Week, where as much as 50% or more of the class will wash out.
This part examines the preparation for that ‘long day’, and only week 2 of BUD/S training.
It’s all designed to prepare them for the most challenging part of the 1st phase of BUD/S: Hell Week.
Part 4: Hell Week
Part 4 is all about Hell Week, and we’re given a sneak peek at what goes on in what many call the ‘toughest military training on Earth’.
Students are launched into a 6 day misery-fest, where they’ll get as little as 4 hours sleep the entire week.
At the end of this part, only a handful of them will have survived.
Part 5: The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
Part 5 examines the aftermath of Hell Week.
You’ll notice one keen tell-tale sign that the students have changed, as they are all wearing brown shirts.
They’ll also be trained and tested in combat diving.
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Part 6: The Home Stretch
Follows the class through Phase 3 of training, which is the land warfare phase.
It’s designed to teach students how to move as a cohesive unit, and includes things like:
- Basic weapons
- Land navigation
- Small unit tactics
Throughout this entire part, the students are still getting “wet and sandy”.
Where To Watch BUD/S Class 234
Every once in awhile you’ll find the complete series posted to Youtube.
However, you’ll eventually find it will be pulled down because of copyright claims.
You won’t find it streaming on Netflix, but you can buy the complete DVD set on Amazon.
Bonus Documentary: The Shooter
I thought about keeping this one out of the list because, at just 18 minutes long, I’m not even sure if it’s considered a documentary.
With that said, it’s just too good not to be on this list.
Essentially “The Man Who Killed Osama Bin Laden” is actually Rob O’Neill’s story about killing Bin Laden.
It’s based off a series of interviews with O’Neill conducted by Phil Bronstein of the Center For Investigative Reporting, in association with Esquire magazine.
This came out well before the Fox News documentary on him, and the entire thing is actually the only one on this list that’s an animated video.
It basically details how the whole thing went down, from how he first learned about the mission, to the planning, to the mission itself.
It’s really worth the watch, and I’ve embedded it below for your convenience.
And there you have it. The 6 best Navy SEAL documentaries online.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, there are literally dozens of other ones.
If you’re looking for a Navy SEAL documentary on Netflix, unfortunately you won’t find one.
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I searched through all of their titles, and not one of them focused solely on SEALs.
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