Navy SEAL candidate dies, another hospitalized at conclusion of ‘Hell Week’

SEAL candidates participating in "surf immersion" during training
This May 4, 2020, photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows SEAL candidates participating in “surf immersion” during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado.
(Anthony Walker / U.S. Navy )

Hours after they completed the last leg of the grueling “Hell Week” phase of the Navy SEAL training regimen, two candidates succumbed to an unknown illness and one died, Navy officials said Saturday.

The incident occurred Friday, shortly after the two SEAL candidates completed the basic underwater demolition class, the Navy said in a statement. One of the candidates died Friday at Sharp Coronado Hospital; the other remains in stable condition at Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

The cause of death is currently unknown and remains under investigation.


The sailors were not actively training when they reported their symptoms, the Navy said in a statement. They were immediately transported to emergency care.

The family of the deceased sailor has been notified of the death, but under Navy policy the identity of the victim is withheld from the public for 24 hours after the next-of-kin notification.

The incident occurred at the conclusion of what’s called Hell Week, a training session that ends the first phase of assessment and selection for Navy commandos, according to the Navy.

Hell Week typically begins on a Sunday night and concludes the following Friday morning.

The SEAL candidates run 200 miles or more — often carrying equipment. They also are called upon to swim and perform hours of physical training on almost no sleep.

The two sailors had successfully completed the training but began showing symptoms of illness a few hours later. Neither SEAL candidate had experienced an accident or anything unusual in the course of the training, Navy officials said.

“Hell Week tests physical endurance, mental toughness, pain and cold tolerance, teamwork, attitude and your ability to perform under physical and mental stress,” according to, a website dedicated to the elite fighters.

“Above all, it tests determination and desire.”

Navy SEALS are among the best-trained and elite members of the U.S. military special operations forces. The acronym stands for Sea, Air and Land, and program graduates are adept at special operations in all environments — at sea and in cities, mountains, deserts and jungles, among others.

Hell Week comes at the end of the initial three weeks of the program and is so grueling that more than half of the candidates do not make it through.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.