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'Submarine' in Sweden was only civilian boat

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Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad at a press conference after Sweden's October submarine hunt. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
07:43 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: A suspected submarine spotted in the Stockholm archipelago a week after Sweden's extensive hunt for Russian underwater vessels last autumn was only a civilian boat, Sweden's Armed Forces have now said. But they remain convinced that the first sighting was a small foreign sub.

On October 31st 2014, retired naval officer Sven Olof Kviman snapped a picture of what looked like a 20-30 metre long, black submarine in waters just outside Lidingö in Stockholm. The incident has remained unconfirmed, but has been classed by the military as a “potential” submarine.

But Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad has now told Swedish newspapers that the Armed Forces reported to the Swedish government last Wednesday that the suspected underwater vessel was in fact only a civilian “working boat”.

“The analysis has shown that the photograph taken in Stockholm's inner archipelago was of a smaller boat,” Grenstad told Dagens Nyheter on Monday.

According to Grenstad, the picture instead showed the boat “Time Bandit”, a 10.5 metre long, white plastic boat. But the boatman using the vessel on October 31st claimed the Swedish military had not been in contact with him.

“The navy hasn't spoken to me. My boat is visible in the picture – but not where the Armed Forces say it is, but further away,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

And Kviman, who participated in Sweden's Cold War submarine hunts in the 1980s and 90s, remains convinced of what he saw.

“It is completely impossible that we have got this wrong, it would mean both my wife and I were colour blind. 'Time Bandit', at a length of 10 metres, is of a completely different size to the submarine. I saw the submarine above water: the bow, stern and tower. It is always difficult to determine the size, but it was around 20-30 metres long,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

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Between October 17th and 24th, Sweden launched an extensive naval search operation after a suspected foreign mini-sub – widely thought to be Russian – in the Stockholm archipelago. Grenstad confirmed that the Armed Forces' view is still that this incursion took place, although the military has never confirmed that the vessel came from Russia.

“The assessment that Swedish territory was violated in October 2014, remains in full,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

The Swedish Armed Forces said in a statement on their website late on Sunday that an inquiry into the October 17th-24th submarine incursion is ongoing and is expected to be completed later this spring.

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