On Thursday, officials in Sweden began reporting that they had intercepted a distress call in Russian from what was presumably a submerged vessel in their waters, though Russian officials deny having any secret submarine operations in the area. Transmissions reportedly being made to a Russian holding in Kaliningrad, just over 300 miles to the south of Stockholm, were intercepted again on Friday along with reports that foreign vessels were seen in the waters off of Stockholm. This prompted a response from the military forces in Sweden.
Several ships and helicopters were dispatched to look for the origin of these transmissions to no avail. On Sunday they were joined by Russian forces, though they claimed no knowledge of any incidents involving any of their vessels or submarines. They said that they were simply wanting to provide support to the investigation being conducted by officials in Sweden. A Russian news agency report called it a search of the Baltic Sea for a “non-existent” submarine for the purposes of proving to the Swedish government that it had been mistaken. They suggested that if there were a submarine, that it may belong to The Netherlands and not them.
Swedish officials made a statement on Sunday saying that they had been monitoring suspicious activity in the region for years, sparking speculation among the Swedish and in the media. One interview with a military scholar from Sweden postulated that this alleged secret submarine might have been there to conduct any of a number of surveillance or mapping missions. With spending cuts made to the military budget in Sweden, the country does not currently have specialized anti-submarine aircraft to patrol their waters. Those convinced of the presence of a Russian submarine believe that this lack may have led to boldness of the part of foreign powers, and the possible conducting of underwater missions outside of the Swedish military’s ability to detect.
That same report indicated that the Swedish military was most likely looking for a small craft, either a mini-sub or a vessel similar in design to a torpedo. That said, it has been also surmised that if there is a distressed submarine in those waters, it almost certainly is indicative of a much larger operation. For any underwater activities to take place in the region, the people operating them would need a significant infrastructure in place to support it. This would necessarily include communication and rescue support in addition to some sort of land-based intelligence system to monitor Swedish military operations and avoid detection by means other than the absent helicopters. This has many in Sweden wondering if they have uncovered a more expansive operation and not simply one errant sub. Other factors contribute to that supposition, including the continued presence of a Russian tanker, the NS Concord, circling in the area. This was in addition to what was called reliable intelligence from an unnamed source regarding the potential secret operations in the Baltic sea. Swedish military officials have said that they are continuing to follow up on that information to see what they might be able to concretely verify. Operations off the coast of Sweden are expected to continue indefinitely as they search for the alleged secret submarine and attempt to discern the extent of this possible foreign activity off of their shores.
By Jim Malone