Russia’s hostility towards Ukraine gives Sweden enough reason to have a strong submarine fleet.
Gotland-Class. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
“Submarines built in Sweden are among the world’s best.”
We at 19FortyFive published an article evaluating the Finnish Navy a few months ago, in which we noted, among other things, that the Merivoimat lacks submarines, which means that it will be up to the Swedish Navy, or Svenska marine, to provide the Scandinavian component of a NATO submersible response to Russian maritime aggression in the Baltic Sea.
That’s why, in April, the Merivoimat teamed up with their Svenska mariner counterparts for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training exercises; it made perfect sense for the two groups to work together.
Nevertheless, the Swedish Navy has more than enough incentive to keep its submarine fleet robust, given the history of Soviet submarine incursions into Swedish territorial seas.
King Gustav Vasa founded the Swedish Navy 500 years ago. On August 30, 1914, just days after the start of the First World War, Sweden launched the HSwMS Svärdfisken, the first submarine of what would become a large and powerful Swedish fleet (Swordfish).
Others have suggested that 1957 marked the year that the Swedish submarine fleet finally joined the modern era. Swedish AIP (Air Independent Power) submarines are world famous, as submarine expert Mr H. I. Sutton stated. Sweden, however, was an early proponent of nuclear-powered submarines, initiating research and development in 1957. Politics and a rising distrust of nuclear technology (especially nuclear weapons) led to the A-11A’s cancellation in 1962.
To sum up, the A-11A nuke sub-project failed, but it paved the way for the A-11B diesel-electric boats, which entered service with the Svenska marinen in 1968 as the Sjöormen class and remained in use until 1997 when they were sold to Singapore.
The submarines and their Swedish Defence Forces crews are currently congregated at the First Submarine Flotilla in Karlskrona, as stated on the official website of the Försvarsmakten (Swedish Armed Forces). These submarines are state-of-the-art vessels. They can keep an eye on broad swaths of the ocean’s surface and depths with the help of sonar systems and other high-tech equipment. Because of this, the submarines are useful for gathering intelligence during naval operations. Thanks to their powerful torpedoes, submarines can defend themselves against battleships and other submarines.
They have five diesel-electric boats in their First Submarine Flotilla, which Captain Fredrik Lindén currently leads. Saab’s Kockums AB shipyard constructed the submarines, and the company’s promotional materials boast that they are “the world’s silent submarine” due to their Stirling engines. As we shall see, there is some truth to this, and we shall demonstrate it in the next paragraphs.
There are five Swedish submarines, three of which are from this class: the HSwMS Götland, Halland, and Uppland. With a current hull length of 60.4 m (198 ft 2 in) — this will be expanded to 62.4 m (204 ft 9 in) with their next midlife upgrade (MLU) — a beam width of 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in), and a draught of 5.6 m (18.1 ft), these warships displace 1,494 tonnes on the surface and 1,599 tonnes while submerged (18 ft 4 inches). Upon the water’s surface, it can travel at a speed of 11 knots (20 km/h); submerged, it can travel at 20 knots on batteries and 5 knots on AIP. Crew size ranges from 24 to 32 members.
Torpedo tubes measure either 533 mm (21 inches) for the heavier Torpedo 613 or 62 or 400 mm (15.75 inches) for, the lighter Torpedo 43 or 45/47. 48 naval mines can also be ordered.
The crew of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier would not argue with the assertion that their vessel is the “world’s most silent submarine” (CVN-76). In 2004, the U.S. Navy leased the Götland for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) drills. The Swedish submarine not only “sank” the Nimitz-class carrier during a mock strike, but it did so many times!
The HSwMS Södermanland and HSwMS Stergötland, both commissioned in 1989 and 1990, are the other two vessels of the First Submarine Flotilla that belong to this type. Between 2003 and 2004, the two ships underwent a comprehensive upgrade programme. Saab was contracted by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) earlier this month to upgrade the country’s HSwMS Södermanland. The deal is worth $44 million and will involve replacing or integrating new components to extend the vessel’s life, as Joe Saballa of The Defence Post reported. Around fifty upgrades will be made to the sub to extend its service life by six more years. Saab would replace the batteries of the Swedish Navy’s submarine fleet as part of the deal, extending the fleet’s life for the foreseeable future.
Boats of the Södermanland class are just as fast as those of the Götland class, although they are 100 tonnes lighter, have a shorter hull, and have a crew of only 24 sailors. The Söderman Islands are more heavily armed than the Götlands, with one extra 400-mm torpedo tube.
The Södermanland class is set to be replaced by these two vessels, HSwMS Blekinge and HSwMS Skne, which are scheduled for delivery in 2027 and 2028, respectively. Only the former vessel has been laid down since late June. A huge bow portion will allow uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs) to be launched and special forces to be carried, as stated by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). This part can also be used in surveillance, finding and placing mines, creating ocean floor maps, and engaging in combat. Kockums is looking into many options to enhance connections with onshore command without disclosing the submarine’s position, such as employing UUVs for communications or new antennas on the submarine.
The Swedish First Submarine Flotilla is a small but formidable force; if they can defeat a state-of-the-art USN carrier, imagine the havoc they could inflict on the Russian Navy.