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Royal Swedish Navy (RSwN) Marinen - Operations

Swedish anti-submarine capabilities, significantly bolstered after the incident with a Soviet sub in 1981, were greatly affected by defense cuts following the end of the Cold War. Replacements for elements which were lost, such as anti-submarine helicopters, are expected no sooner than 2018.

The Soviets conducted submarine operations in Swedish waters continuously since World War II. Although the evidence of these violations of Sweden's territorial waters is incomplete, Swedish authorities indicate that foreign submarine operations were carried out infrequently and at irregular intervals during the 1960s and into the late 1970s. The scope and character of Soviet operations in Sweden changed in or around 1980, however, becoming much more frequent, penetrating the heart of Sweden's coastal defense zones, and involving the use of multiple submarines, mini-submarines, and combat swimmers operating in a coordinated manner.

Late in the evening of 27 October 1981, a Soviet WHISKEY-Class submarine (No. 137) commanded by Captain Third Rank Anatolly Gushchin was sailing eastward in the military restricted area between Sturkoe and Senoren Islands in the reefs off Karlskrona, in the middle of a bottom mine field. On board was also the Flotilla Commander of the Baltlysk (formerly Pillau) Submarine Base, Captain First Rank Avchukievich. What Gushchin and his 25-to-30-year old submarine was actually supposed to be doing In the Karlskrona reefs remains unclear.

The submarine stranded the on rocks in the waters of Gasomarden and spent the night attempting to work itself off the shoals. The Soviet reaction was arrogant and unrepentant. The Whiskey on the Rocks affair ended on November 6, ten days after the grounding, when the submarine was towed out to sea and proceeded on the surface.

Between 1980 and 1990, Swedish sources indicate that an average rate of between 17 and 36 foreign operations were conducted per year, depending on the degree of probability that is assigned to each underwater contact. There was also an evident shift in the character and apparent operational objective of these incursions. Soviet intruders began to penetrate into the heart of Sweden's coastal defense zones, including the harbors of the country's major naval bases. More often than not, these operations now involved the use of multiple submarines, milni-submarines, and combat swimmers operating in a coordinated manner.

The Swedish Armed Forces stepped up search efforts in the waters near the country’s capital after receiving “reliable reports” of foreign underwater activity in the area, chief of operations Jonas Wikstrom said 18 October 2014. “We consider the information to be very reliable. Therefore, we are increasing the number of units in the area,” Wikstrom told reporters. “This is intelligence work. We are working to determine whether there is or has been foreign underwater activity in the area,” he stated, noting that the search will continue for “as long as it is needed”. Answering journalists’ questions of whether the alleged underwater activity could have been carried out by Russian forces, Wikstrom stated that he would “absolutely not speculate” on this matter.

Sweden's Svenska Dagbladet quoting "a credible source" said that the Swedish military were looking for a foreign, supposedly Russian submarine in Swedish territorial waters. The sources said the National Defence Radio Establishment detected radio communication on a special frequency used by Russia in emergency situations. When the military search operation started radio communication with a transmitter in Kaliningrad was detected. This indicated that there could be a damaged Russian submarine in Swedish waters.

The core search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters was called off 24 October 2014. The military operation marked the country's largest domestic push since the Cold War. The armed forces said they remained convinced foreign underwater activity had taken place but had not identified an intruder. Stockholm not only did not find the mysterious submarine, but also did not believe Moscow's statements. Due to the "Russian submarine accident" Sweden broke off its military cooperation with Russia.

Swedish authorities confirmed on 14 November 2014 that a small foreign submersible craft did illegally enter the country’s territorial waters last month. The Swedish officials noted, however, that it was still unclear precisely which country the sub belongs to. "Let me say this, loud and clear, to those who are responsible: It is completely unacceptable," Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said, according to AP. He also declared that such intrusions pose “enormous risks” to the perpetrators and that his country would protect its borders “with all available means.” The prime minister noted that the length of the Sweden’s coastline is comparable to that of the US East Coast’s, so it is difficult to monitor.

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Page last modified: 16-11-2014 20:19:24 ZULU