Sweden continues search for suspected foreign submarine

Day four in the hunt for the suspected foriegn sub. Here at Ornö. (Lotta Myhrén/Sveriges Radio)
Day four in the hunt for the suspected foriegn sub. Here at Ornö. (Lotta Myhrén/Sveriges Radio)
The on-going hunt for a suspected foreign submarine in the Stockholm archipelago has evoked memories of the Cold War when Sweden’s military forces regularly hunted for Soviets subs in its waters.

The Whiskey on the rocks incident, as it became known, is infamous in Sweden. On October 27, 1981, on the south coast of Sweden, near one of the navy’s largest bases at Karlskrona, a Soviet Whiskey-class submarine S-363 ran aground, sparking a huge international incident.

“It was one of the formative events that changed everything else,” professor Ola Tunander, an expert in naval strategy and Cold War history tells Radio Sweden.

Reflecting on the historical context behind the current Swedish military’s search for evidence of suspected undersea activity in its waters, Ola Tunander said that the Whiskey on the Rocks incident meant that the events that came afterwards were “immediately interpreted as Soviet intrusions, for example, a year later there was a major submarine hunt close to the Swedish naval base at Muskö in the belief that there was a Russian submarine in the area, although it was more likely to be a British or American incursion”.

Professor Ola Tunander said that people began to see submarines almost everywhere and became almost hysterical and he tells Radio Sweden that people should not just assume that it is a Russian submarine in this latest case. “One should be careful in pointing the finger until we know.”

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