Salvagers deny Swedish sub wreck was PR stunt

Salvagers deny Swedish sub wreck was PR stunt
Ocean X Team members Peter Lindberg and Dennis Åsberg. Photo: Ocean X Team
Speculation was running high on Wednesday over the discovery of a wrecked submarine off the coast of Sweden, after the military said it was likely a Russian vessel which ran aground a century ago.

After examining video footage by a group of salvage hunters purporting to show a wrecked underwater vessel in Swedish waters, the military concluded it was likely that of an Imperial Russian 'Som class' submarine which sank in May 1916.

As reported by The Local, the submarine was found about 1.5 nautical miles (2.8 kilometres) off the east coast of central Sweden. Ocean X Team, which made the discovery, said the vessel was around 20 metres (66ft) long and 3.5 metres wide.

An examination by the Swedish Armed Forces showed that it was built for the Imperial Russian Navy in Vladivostok in 1904 and integrated into the naval fleet in the Baltic Sea in 1915. It ran aground with an 18-member crew a year later.

“We won't take this forward with a technical analysis, because there is no military interest any more. We have done our bit and have reported it to the government. They will take it further and then they have to agree with Russia about what to do,” spokesman Jesper Tengroth told The Local on Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed late on Tuesday that they had contacted the Russian embassy in Stockholm for informational purposes but declined to elaborate further.

“We never comment on what emerges in talks with representatives from other countries,” press spokesman Johan Tegel told the TT newswire.

The Russian embassy also refused to comment.

However, earlier in the day, after some experts claimed the submarine “looked modern”, the find caused quite the stir in Sweden, which has a long and rather colourful history of hunting for mystery underwater vessels.

In October last year, Sweden's navy launched a massive hunt for a foreign submarine, suspected to be Russian, in the Stockholm archipelago. The military subsequently confirmed that “a mini-submarine” had violated its territorial waters, but was never able to establish the vessel's nationality.

ANALYSIS: Why are Swedes so scared of Russian submarines?

Questions about the process of the latest Som class submarine discovery are now being raised in Sweden, with some suggesting that it was known from the start that the wreckage was the century-old Imperial Russian vessel.

Social media speculation saw Ocean X Team, which is set to launch a TV project later this year, being forced to respond to claims that the expedition was only a PR trick.

“No, I don't know anything about that. It may either help or hinder us. For us there is no money in the submarine. Personally, I would actually have preferred that it had not been made public so soon, but it happened,” Ocean X Team member Stefan Hogeborn told the TT newswire.

According to the team the only information known to them at the time of finding the sub was that they had been tasked with the mission by an Icelandic company with Russian connections to locate an unidentified submarine.

“When we analyzed the video footage we thought that there were quite a few things that made it look like a relatively modern submarine, so we contacted the marine on Monday. When they saw the material they were also surprised, they thought it looked well-preserved,” Ocean X Team diver Dennis Åsberg told TT.

He said the divers did not get paid for the expedition, but that the Icelandic company funded all costs. The Ocean X Team company usually makes its money from finding expensive goods in old wrecks, such as champagne and port, and selling it.