This past weekend, the Swedish Navy spent time hunting the waters around Stockholm, potentially searching for the Red October, or some other object involved in unknown underwater activity, potentially from a foreign nation like Russia. The Swedish Ministry of Defense (MOD) made the original announcement on Friday, just before the start of two days of maneuvers by the nations navy near the Stockholm archipelago.
This came after officials in Sweden had reported intercepting a Russian transmission believed to be a distress call from a submerged vessel in Swedish waters. When more transmissions were intercepted again on Friday, helicopters and vessels from the Swedish Navy were sent out to investigate. However, the search came up empty.
Since word of the intercepted transmissions came out, press outlets in Sweden have speculated that the underwater activity could be a damaged submarine, potentially part of the Russian Navy. Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet claims to have also intercepted a Russian distress call, however, the MOD did not confirm this claim in any report of the Swedish Navy’s search of the area. Russian officials have denied any involvement in the region or for being the subject of the weekends search.
On Monday, boosting their objections to being indicated as the source of the supposed distress call off of the Swedish coast, the Russian Ministry of Defense told Russia Today that the Swedes futile search was given aid by the Russian Defense Ministry. Russia Today is a state controlled news outlet and indicated that the Dutch Navy’s diesel electric HNLMS Bruinvis, a Walrus class attack boat that was recently in the area and at fault for causing the unnecessary search by the Swedish Navy.
The Russian source from the Ministry of Defense told Russia Today that they hope that their report would assist the Swedish Navy in their locating it on its course back to a naval base. The actions of the Swedish Navy and the Russian denial over being involved shows some comparison to Tom Clancy’s novel, The Hunt for Red October, with the role of the United States Navy being played by the Swedish Navy.
Adding to the speculation of a downed Russian submarine, the Concord, a Russian-owned oil tanker has been observed circling in international waters near the area being searched. This is believed by some officials to be a tanker waiting to resupply a submarine and could indicate that there is merit to the Swedish claims.
The reports from the Swedish government have been vague about what exactly their underwater activity is. An image of the object underwater was released that only shows that it is in the territorial waters of Sweden. What the object is, at this time, is subject for speculation only until more details are released.
Swedish Navy Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad repeated to the media that there is foreign underwater activity going on, and until the Navy has captured something or at least obtain photo evidence, it will continue to be called foreign underwater activity. This would change once the country of origin of the object is identified. Admiral Grenstad did tell reporters that it could, in fact, be a submarine or at least a smaller submarine used by divers. On Tuesday, Grenstad indicated that the military had received additional reports of five sightings since the Swedish waters search began on Friday. However, Grenstad would not speculate on what the sightings might indicate and did not want to speculate if it was in fact a vessel or some other object.
At least one Visby class corvette was deployed along with minesweepers and coastal riverine patrol craft to search the waters around Stockholm. Besides the comparison to the Clancy novel, the search has a similar feel to the Cold War Swedish and Soviet Union standoffs. The Swedish remained neutral during the Cold War, however, with Russian submarines actively running maneuvers in the Baltic sea, the two nations had several run-ins with each other.
In 1981, a Soviet submarine became stuck on rocks in the territorial waters of Sweden, which resulted in almost a two-week diplomatic standoff. Now, searching the waters around their nation, the Swedish Navy may actually be on their own Hunt for a Russian submarine like the Red October, although it is doubtful that it is a secret Russian submarine attempting to defect. Throwing more speculation into the ring, an unidentified Swedish official said that his country should stop wasting the “taxpayers’ money”. This official believes the Swedish government should ask the Netherlands for an explanation into what is going on under their waters.
By Carl Auer