09:55 GMT +318 July 2019
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    Two Swedish Navy fast-attack craft patrol in the Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden. (File)

    Force of Habit: Sweden Investigating Yet Another Submarine Incursion

    © AP Photo / TT News Agency/Marko Saavala
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    Sweden, which in recent years has had an impressive history of alleged submarine violations of its territorial waters, is currently investigating yet another possible intrusion, which is purported to have occurred in Gävle Harbor earlier this year.

    Imprints of a heavy object found by divers off Gävle Harbor have triggered suspicions of a serious violation of Sweden's territorial waters. The traces on the seafloor stirred claims of foreign activity taking place in the Swedish port, according to a private report concluded by two experts and sent to the Armed Forces and Gävle Harbor.

    "The event should be classified as a gross intentional violation," the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter informed, citing the report.

    At about 11 o'clock on June 29, harbor personnel reportedly spotted a 13 meter-long, 3 meter-wide object with the harbor's advanced sonic depth finder. The crew took snapshots of the object to discuss it later at lunch. The object was reportedly still in place after two hours, when a diver team was summoned. When their ship arrived at the harbor at about 14 o'clock, however, the echoes were gone. Instead, the drivers found parallel, rectangular imprints on the seabed, which were several inches deep.

    Subsequently, Gävle Harbor reported the incident to the police, which later contacted the Armed Forces. However, they never received any feedback from the Navy, which prompted two independent experts, Nils-Ove Jansson and Nils Engström, to carry out an investigation of their own.

    "Based on the echo-sounder readings and the staff's statements, we have concluded that a foreign underwater vessel was found in Gävle Harbor," Nils-Ove Jansson, one of the men behind the report, told Dagens Nyheter.

    Given the somewhat strained relations with Russia and the mounting level of Russophobia exhibited by Swedish politicians and experts, it was only a matter of time until speculations of Russia's involvement popped up. Moreover, Nils-Ove Jansson is known as the author of the book "Impossible Submarine," which addresses the Soviet Union's submarine spying in the 1980s.

    Despite the fact that neither Jansson and Engström, nor the Armed Forces have made any conclusive allegations, Dagens Nyheter was quick to inform that Russia possesses Triton NN class midget submarines which are used, among other places, in Russia's Baltic Sea exclave Kaliningrad, despite admitting itself that Triton is a shorter vessel compared to imprints from Gävle.

    With roughly 100,000 inhabitants, Gävle is the seat of the eponymous municipality and the capital of Gävleborg county. At the height of the Cold War, Gävle Harbor was of paramount military interest for the Swedish Navy. There was a secret Swedish war plan for military intervention in Finland's Åland archipelago to prevent a Soviet occupation. The Swedish troops would have in such case departed from Gävle Harbor.

    Sweden has been notorious for performing submarine hunts since October 1981, when a Soviet S-363 submarine ran aground near Sweden's naval base in Karlskrona. The sub's dramatic appearance coincided with a Swedish naval exercise, which enhanced the effect. Ironically, the sub somehow managed to steer clear of Swedish naval radars, only to be discovered by a Swedish fisherman.

    Since then, an impressive number of "Russian subs" have been found, only to be later proved to be herring shoals, minks or even Sweden's own vessels. In 2014, yet another "Russian submarine" was spotted outside Stockholm. The Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter was the driving force behind the scoop, mainly relying on grainy images and paranoid ramblings by locals and failing to produce any substantial evidence. The painfully futile hunt set Swedish state coffers back over $2 million, yet reinforced Swedes' historic fear of Russia and resulted in a marked increase in defense spending.


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    Navy, submarine, Baltic Sea, Scandinavia, Sweden
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