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A19 Gotland - Program

A study phase started in 1982 in order to substitute the Sjöormen class sub-marines. In 1990 FMV signed a contract with the Swedish company Kockums for aquisition of three new submarines. After delivery from Kockums, FMV carried through extensive test activities in 1996 - 1997. In 1997 Kockums completed building three Gotland (Type A 19)-class boats to replace the Sjöormen-class boats built in the 1960s. The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) handed over the three Gotland class submarines "HMS Gotland", "HMS Uppland" and "HMS Halland" to the Swedish Armed Forces in Novmber 1998.

For two years the Swedish Navy submarine HMS Gotland, built at Kockums, was leased to the USA, complete with a Swedish crew. The Swedish submarine participated in intense and demanding exercises off the US coast, for which she gained great respect and won the praise of professionals worldwide. HMS Gotland was in the USA since June 2005, operating out of the USN's San Diego naval base, on the west coast. In June 2006 the Swedish Government approved a US request that the Swedish Navy submarine HMS Gotland be allowed to extend its stay in the USA by a further twelve months, to conduct exercises with the US Navy, as well as with the Royal Canadian and Royal Australian Navies. HMS Gotland had performed extremely well in these joint exercises so far, and has impressed both the experts and the professionals who are monitoring her success.

The training areas lie some 100 nautical miles off the US coast, where the depth varies between 1000 and 2000 metres. The entire area is equipped with microphones and underwater telephones. The vessels the Swedes have been matched against include Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers. The submarine has also participated in manoeuvres with the P 3 Orion ASW aircraft and the Sea Hawk ASW helicopter, the F 18 Hornet strike aircraft and the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, class Nimitz (CVN-68). The Swedish vessel managed to evade detection on several occasions.

Kockums personnel have made a number of trips to the US to maintain the vessel between exercises. On one occasion, 35 specialists from Kockums' support and maintenance team flew to San Diego to carry out a thorough overhaul, over a period of several weeks. During the first twelve months, HMS Gotland was at sea for more than 160 days. During these exercises, as well as having to evade the attentions of a range of US Navy units, she also had to deal with those of airborne units. The exercises in which she participated during the second year of her lease were equally challenging.

Her Stirling AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) system, which enables a conventional (non-nuclear) submarine to remain submerged without having to surface and risk detection, has played a decisive role in her success. In exercises conducted with the US Navy, as well as with naval units from Australia and Canada, she performed superbly and proved extremely difficult to detect. She has also surprised her hunters in many other respects during these joint exercises. The performance of her Swedish crew was excellent, for which it has been warmly commended. The vessel's stealth capabilities have been highly praised. She is neither heard nor seen, appearing without warning and surprising her hunters. Participation in these exercises has naturally provided the Swedish crew with considerable additional experience, which will prove particularly valuable in future international operations. The series of joint exercises was concluded by mid-2007, at which point HMS Gotland returned to Sweden.

In the February 2009 issue of the respected Armed Forces Journal, Professor Mikan Vego of the US Naval War College proposed that the US Navy complement its force of nuclear submarines with a number of conventional submarines. This proposal derives from expectations that the US nuclear submarine force will be reduced over the next 15 to 20 years, and that conventional submarines are better suited for shallow-water missions, as in the littoral zone off the US coast. It is precisely these zones that are currently subject to the greatest threat, throughout the world.

Professor Vego points to Kockums' Gotland-class submarine as one of two main candidates in the field of advanced conventional (non-nuclear) submarines. The Gotland class is described as exceptionally manoeuvrable, silent-running, difficult to detect and tough, with the ability to remain submerged for weeks at a time. HMS Gotland also enjoyed considerable success during the two years in which she was leased to the US with a Swedish Navy crew. Her performance gained the attention of naval and industry professionals throughout the world.

Compared with other conventional submarines of similar capabilities, the Gotland class comes with an attractive price tag, notes Professor Vego. According to him, a Gotland-class submarine costs almost 30 percent less than other comparable submarines. And the Gotland class also possesses better stealth characteristics.

On 19 October 2018 His Swedish Majesty Ship (HSwMS) Gotland started its sea trials at the Saab shipyard in Karlskrona, after a comprehensive Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) to ensure its operational service to Sweden beyond 2025. HSwMS Gotland is the first of two submarines being upgraded with the mid-life modifications, which consist of upgrades of onboard systems and technology, sustaining the submarine’s operational capability to meet future naval challenges.

“The sea trials mark an important phase in the MLU project. This is the first time the crew will be able to operate the new systems in the true environment. After extensive training in the land based training facility, they will now be able to see the true potential of their submarine”, says Gunnar Wieslander, Senior Vice President, head of business area Kockums at Saab.

The upgrade process entails many important systems, such as the Stirling Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) for longer duration underwater and the combat system. Even the traditional optical periscope is replaced with a new optronic mast for enhanced surveillance. More than 20 systems on-board the upgraded Gotland-class will be implemented in the new A26 submarine for Sweden. The Gotland MLU therefore contributes to the test and qualification of some of the innovative solutions to be implemented in the future Swedish A26 submarines. After tests and verifications, the submarine will be delivered back to the Swedish Navy.

The relaunch of HMS Uppland took place 19 June 2019. Two of the Gotland-class submarines have now concluded comprehensive mid-life upgrades (MLU). The relaunch of a second Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarine within 12 months illustrated the skills and capacity of a world-class shipyard. Saab is one of few companies in the world capable of running mid-life upgrades while in parallel developing the next generation of AIP submarines. Saab’s modular philosophy provided the customer with a fleet of submarines that – at any time and cost effectively – can be fully upgraded in order to meet the latest challenges.

Saab on 16 December 2020 delivered the second submarine of Gotland-class to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) after a Mid-life upgrade. HMS Uppland was designed and built by Kockums in Malmö in the early 1990’s and commissioned in 1997. The mid-life upgrade consists of modifications, replacement and upgrades of on-board systems and technologies, sustaining the submarine´s operability and ensuring service to Sweden for many years to come. The upgrade process entails many important systems, such as the Stirling AIP, a complete new mast suite, sonars and sensors as well as management and communication systems.

Sweden voiced plans to comprehensively modernise the HMS "Halland", a Gotland-class submarine. The upgrade will be carried out by Saab to replace and modernise many of its systems and nodes, including command and sensor systems. "Several of the systems installed on the Gotland submarines are the same as those that will be on the two new Blekinge-class submarines. These are being built right now and will be delivered to the armed forces", the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration said 21 March 2022. A total of three Gotland-class submarines were built between 1990 and 1997, all of which have previously undergone simple modifications during the first part of their lives. The HMS "Gotland" and the HMS "Uppland" were relaunched after mid-term modifications in 2018 and 2019.

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Page last modified: 28-03-2022 19:57:05 ZULU