While kayaks are predominately utilised for recreation, they also have more serious uses. Over the years, these vehicles have been adopted by the military. Several organisations noticed their potential during World War Two. This included the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment, British Commandos and Combined Operations Pilotage Parties. Kayaks were ideal for covert operations due to their compact size and silent nature. During WWII, the harbour of Bordeaux was raided in an event known as Operation Frankton. The commandos entered the coast via unique military kayaks.
Aside from actual combat, several armies have recognised the importance of kayaks for gaining reconnaissance. An excellent example of this is the Falklands War when these vessels allowed scouts to move silently past enemy patrols. The US Navy SEALs are reported to have utilised them for operations within Somalia in the early 1990s.
Over the years, several kayak models have been created specifically for military use. A unit of the UK Royal Navy called the Special Boat Service has its own two-person folding kayak revered for its mobility. This model is notable because it can be launched from a surfaced submarine. It is even possible for divers to exit a submerged sub while carrying a kayak and bring it up to the surface.
Kayaks are so versatile that paratroopers have been known to use them. The vessel may be dropped into the sea or held by the parachutist as they jump from the aircraft. Several branches of the US armed forces favour this method. However, Australia appears to be the country that has utilised kayaks the most for military operations. It was a key vehicle for them during the 1941 to 1945 Pacific War.