Mystery Sub Haunts Swedish Shores


Sweden’s coastline is well­known for its sweeping beauty, dotted with islands, and its proximity to several peaceful neighboring countries. Legends of mysterious creatures and sea­life have largely been reduced to mere fables and folktales. However, in the last few days strange sights have been reported off of Sweden’s coast. Eye­witness reports and photographs show a strange figure cruising along the coastline, but this is a fright of a much more recent origin. These photographs and reports instead record the likely appearance of a military submarine surfacing and diving in Swedish territorial waters. However, this submarine is not part of Sweden’s naval defense, nor was the visit from a vessel belonging to a foreign fleet properly announced or applied for by whomever the ship’s home government may be. Many have speculated that the submarine in Russian in origin, as Russia maintains a large submarine fleet that regularly traverse the waters off of Sweden’s coast. But, officials speaking on behalf of the Russian military and diplomatic service state that all Russian submarines are accounted for and none are operating within Swedish territorial waters.

However, this claim is now viewed as credible by many. Russian submarines are by far the largest force of this type active in the region. Additionally, Swedish newspapers have claimed that government officials attached to the Swedish defense force have stated that they have intercepted a message from a distressed Russian submarine. The Swedish government is taking this mysterious vessel’s appearance very seriously. A large naval search mission has been launched in order to find the submarine and place it under Swedish control. This may be due to the proximity of the submarine sightings to the Swedish capital of Stockholm as many reports place it within 50 miles of the major city. While the submarine is not likely a direct threat to Sweden, it does demonstrate a potential security risk. There are also concerns, particularly in light of the alleged intercepted transmission, that the vessel is in severe distress.

This situation harkens back to the 2000 Kursk disaster, where a Russian nuclear submarine sunk during naval exercises. The Kursk was planned to have launched a dummy torpedo during the exercise, however this started a fire that resulted in an explosion. This explosion was not only by sensors and recording equipment of the vessel involved in the Russian naval exercise, but also by seismic monitors in Sweden. Russia initially denied that any disaster had taken place and refused offers of help made by neighboring governments. But, five days after the disaster Russia accepted assistance from Norway to reach the 118 sailors on board the Kursk. Although several sailors survived the initial explosion and sinking of the vessel, all of the sailors and officers on board died in a flash fire that occurred about six hours after the original disaster.

This history has caused concern that Russia might not just be infiltrating Swedish waters, but that there is a new disaster like the Kursk on the horizon. As a result, the Swedish government has severely restricted civilian access to the area under investigation. Both air and sea travel over the region by non­searchers has been prohibited. Additionally, any large submarine would have been likely found in the first few days of the search. As Swedish authorities have not yet located the sub, it is likely that the vessel is a small submarine, either Triton or Piranha class, used by Russian special forces.


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