The I-beams protruding from the base of the sculpture represent a "horned scully," an implement of sabotage that damaged the hulls of ships.
Encinitas has its kook, now Coronado may get its own life-size bronze called the Naked Warrior. If the city council votes Tuesday (April 19) to accept the gift, the Naked Warrior will get a new home in Glorietta Bay Park.
The sculpture will be the first public monument honoring the SEALs and their predecessors in Coronado, according to the city's historic commission.
The Navy SEALs and their predecessors have trained in and near Coronado since World War II, and the sight of them coming ashore in scuba gear and on inflatable rafts is not unusual.
The U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command's ties to Coronado are about to expand considerably with the development of the Naval Base Coronado Coastal Campus, a $1 billion project that began this year. The more than one-million-square-foot complex will consolidate a command that is spread out across the U.S., according to Navy officials.
Coronado now has no monuments or plaques honoring the SEALs, according to the city clerk. The bronze is being donated by the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida, where the original cast statue mans the entryway. Ft. Pierce was the first training site, but by the end of World War II divers were also training in Coronado.
Another copy of the Naked Warrior was placed at Waimanalo Beach in Hawaii, another of the four primary training sites in the U.S. (Virginia is the fourth).
As the photo shows, the Naked Warrior isn't really naked; it's the nickname given to the first underwater demolition teams because of the lack of gear for their dangerous underwater missions, according to former SEAL Rick Kaiser, the museum's executive director.
The UDT (underwater demolition team) was created in 1943, after a Navy ship carrying Marines in the South Pacific foundered on an obstacle and suffered casualties while sitting stuck and unable to move. The UDT frogmen subsequently took on the task of scouting the water approaches and clearing obstacles ahead of amphibious landings.
One of the most common obstacles, called a “horned scully,” is part of the base of the statue: I-beams protruding from concrete block damaged the hull of any ship unlucky enough to hit it, according to Kaiser.
The statue was sculpted by Seward Johnson, and the metalsmith in Texas retained the casting molds for the original, so the museum was able to cast two more statues — and hopefully a third for Virginia.
The installation was unanimously approved by the city's design-review committee and historic resource commission.
The city estimates the cost of installing the statue at less than $50,000 and plans to put the bronze in the northwest quarter of the park. It will be placed so that the Naval Amphibious base on the Silver Strand is behind it across the water, according to city documents.
Paul Plumb, a retired UDT-SEAL, said he is looking forward to the installation, tentatively set for Veterans Day 2016.
"It's a great idea — this is where all the training is done and the headquarters is here," he said. "I'm just a retired guy who rides my bike by there every day and it will be nice to have a tribute like this."