Last week, a monument modeled on a submarine conning tower was unveiled in the southern Swedish city of Karlskrona, which hosts Sweden's only remaining naval base and the headquarters of the Swedish Coast Guard. The gigantic conning tower, built in composite in Kockum's shipyard and resting on a pedestal of black granite designed to remind observers of the sea, was placed at a major intersection and is visible to all motorists driving to or from Karlskrona.
Before being formally unveiled, however, the monument, which was meant as a tribute to Sweden's submarine history, sparked a hot debate.
Local journalist Bertil Ahnlund slammed the monument as "war-inspiring" and argued in his opinion piece in the local newspaper Blekinge Läns Tidning that more arms is not what the world needs for a peaceful living.
In May, amid debates on the politicization of city art, the then-to-be- inaugurated monument was vandalized, as someone sprayed the letters U-137 over the conning tower, Swedish Radio reported. U-137 was the Swedish designation of the Soviet Whiskey-class submarine S-363 that ran aground on October 27, 1981 at Torumskär just outside Karlskrona.
This incident, which is often referred to as "Whiskey on the rocks," triggered an 11-day long diplomatic tug of war between Sweden and the Soviet Union.
At the time, the incident was generally seen as a token of widespread Soviet infiltration of the Swedish coastline, effectively fuelling Swedes' historic fear of Russia and sowing the seeds of submarine paranoia still manifest today.
Never miss a story again — sign up to our Telegram channel and we'll keep you up to speed!