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Military 'not interested' in Soviet sub wreck

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Military 'not interested' in Soviet sub wreck
14:12 CET+01:00
A dispute has broken out over whether or not the wreck of a suspected Soviet-era submarine found near the Baltic island of Gotland deserves further investigation.

According to the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvaret), there is no need to further examine the wreck, which was found off the coast of Gotland in the summer of 2009.

But former Supreme Commander Bengt Gustafsson believes the wreck could shed new light on Soviet submarine activity in Swedish waters in the 1980s.

Ola Oskarsson, CEO at marine survey company Marin Mätteknik (MMT), which located the wreck, is also surprised by the Armed Forces' lack of interest in the sunken submarine.

"I don't understand what the Armed Forces is thinking, but maybe they know more than they want to admit to. But it's not possible to draw an conclusions from what's seen on the outer service," he told the TT news agency.

The wreckage was found by MMT two years ago and has since been examined by the company during several diving operations.

However, it remains unclear exactly why the vessel sank and the Swedish military is is no rush to investigate it further, according to Sveriges Radio (SR).

Bo Rask, chief of staff at the Naval Tactical Command, argued that the Armed Forces has learned enough about the wreck just from looking at the pictures taken by MMT.

“We can see it hasn't sunk because of any damage from a weapon, which is all we need to know,” he TT.

Oskarsson disagrees, however, telling TT the pictures are inconclusive.

"A submarine has two surfaces, one external and one inner one. A depth charge wouldn't affect the external layer, which means you wouldn't be able to see the damage from outside," he said.

While the pictures taken by MMT aren't enough to confirm the vessel's identity, it appears the wreck is of a 76 metre so-called Whiskey-class submarine, a model common in the Soviet Union's Cold War fleet and often mentioned in the context of Swedish submarine hunts conducted in the 1980s.

Rask told TT that the Swedish Armed Forces will look into the wreckage eventually.

“But there is no hurry, we know of many abandoned submarines along the Swedish coastline,” he said.

One theory is that the wreck may be that of a submarine discovered near the island of Utö in the Stockholm archipelago in 1981 and attacked by the Swedish destroyer Halland.

It was one of the first of many incidents involving suspected submarine intrusions into Swedish waters in the 1980s.

"It's hard to say. I found a submarine from 1914 that I thought was 50 years old. but I think this one has been lying there since the 1970s or 1980s," said Oskarsson.

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