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Military 'not interested' in Soviet sub wreck

TT/The Local · 3 Mar 2011, 11:34

Published: 03 Mar 2011 14:12 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Mar 2011 11:34 GMT+01:00

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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.

Story continues below…

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.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

21:06 March 3, 2011 by mojofat
Nothing to see here. Move along. Oh, it's a nuclear sub? Armed ballistic missles? Oh yes, well...just move along. No need to worry your pretty little head over this.
22:20 March 3, 2011 by teknowaffle

A Whiskey Class Sub was a diesel electric sub, so not nuclear. However it should be investigated to see what chemicals it may be leaking into the environment. Some submarines I believe carried mercury for a ballast, but I could be mistaken.
08:18 March 4, 2011 by RobinHood
It's certainly a Whisky, and Whiskys certainly carried nukes, not ballistics, but topedoes tipped with low-yield, fleet killing nukes. The Russians (and probably the Swedes) will know what's in it.

The fact that the Russians haven't coughed up and the Swedes say they aren't interested, makes me think it's already been dealt with at a political and militiary level. Just because we don't read about stuff in the papers, doesn't mean that stuff doesn't happen.

Russians rarely "abandon" submarines off the Swedish coast, and submarine sinkings usually don't have survivors. This one was probably "loaded for bear" and got into trouble, or was damaged by the Harland in 1981. Whiskeys had a crew of about 60 all of whom are probably entombed in the hull, and deserve a proper burial.

I expect the Russians and the Swedes just wish it would now go away, which is why the Swedish militiary is faking a lack of interest. If there is a nuke in the hull, it will be a first-class international scandal. I think the locals might like to know either way.
14:50 March 4, 2011 by reader in USA
Russia has a pile of petro dolars. Let the Russians spend their money on the sub and Sweden can spend theirs on illegal aleins.
15:31 March 4, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Raise the sub, give the poor sailors a decent burial and put the sub in a museum and charge for tickets to see it. Problem solved.
08:36 March 9, 2011 by Kevin Harris
If there was a possible loose nuke laying about of the coast of most countries, the press would reflect the people's interest in a possible instant fiery death.

The Swedish people and press seem remarably relaxed about what might be rusting away in the bowels of that sub.
06:18 March 10, 2011 by wenddiver
Anybody care to guess what the Russians were up to right of your coast at the height of the Cold War???? Did they land somebody, or provide some form of support for a certain political element?
10:34 March 10, 2011 by RobinHood

Agents were occasionally landed and collected by sub during the cold war, but there were easier ways to get in and out of Sweden.

The Russians and Swedes regularly staked out one another's Baltic naval ports. Captains vied with one another who could carry out the most audacious intrusion. Missions were usually for gathering intelligence about whatever the other side might be up to, and testing response times. The Russians trained in "hot" conditions for dummy torpedo attacks, mine laying and cable cutting, and occasionaly spawned a navy diver who swam about in a harbour for a couple of hours pretending to be James Bond.

Submarine activity in the cold war, and even now, was highly regulated. It was probably the hottest area of the cold war. There were accidents and occasional collisions between aggressive comanders playing chicken with one another. Navies hushed things up as best they could. That's how a sunken Russian submarine sat off the Swedish coast for 20 years without Swedish navy comment.

It would be nice if the Russian families were officially informed what became of their loved ones, and maybe invited to visit Sweden to pay their respects at the wreck site.
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