Sweden is investigating a mysterious, foreign underwater activity in the Stockholm’s archipelago.
On Oct. 19, Sweden Ministry of Defense released a grainy photo of a vessel in waters less than 30 miles (50 km) from Stockholm.
Although this version was partly denied by the Swedish military, according to Swedish media outlets the search for the mysterious vessel, a submarine or underwater vehicle used to deploy divers, started on the night of Oct. 16, after the National Defence Radio Establishment (“Försvarets radioanstalt”, FRA) intercepted a radio communication in Russian, most probably a distress call, and, later, an encrypted radio communication that was used to pin-point the position of both the transmitter and the receiving station. Whilst the transmitter was located somewhere in the Stockholm’s archipelago, the receiver was situated in Kaliningrad oblast, on the Baltic Sea.
The hunt for the mysterious vessel started on Oct. 17 and included ships, planes and helicopters.
The presence of the vessel (that could be involved in a spying mission) was then confirmed by three different witnesses, in three different locations. One of those people managed to take the picture, from distance, of the object above the sea surface, released by the Swedish Navy.
Among the various theories, there is also the possibility that the submarine, involved in a clandestine mission, experienced an emergency and it is now sailing towards a rescue vessel.
The Swedish authorities have not linked the submarine to Russia: officially, the vehicle is “very likely” involved in “foreign” underwater activity in an area of interest for many nations.
Regardless to whether the submarine, or mini-sub, is Russian, the incident, which reminds the incident of the Soviet submarine that went aground near a Swedish naval base in 1981, takes place amid raising tensions with Moscow: Stockholm has often accused the Russian Air Force aircraft for their increasingly aggressive behaviour during close encounters with Swedish planes over the Baltic Sea.
An impressive naval armada was arranged for RIMPAC 2014 photo.
It does not happen too soon to see +40 warships sailing together.
The reason is quite obvious: first, there are some navies that are made by little more (if not less) than 40 serviceable surface ships. Second, even though it would not be that easy to come too close to the naval formation (considered that the flagship is a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier), this *could be* an huge target for air, naval and underwater assets involved in maritime attack/anti-ship missions.
Nevertheless, the sight is quite impressive and, alone, it can represent a good deterrent.
The photo was actually taken during RIMPAC 2014, the 24th exercise in the series of world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise taking place in the Pacific Ocean from Jun. 26 to Aug. 1.
Twenty-two nations are taking part to this year’s edition of the drills that marks the first particpation of China with four ships belonging to the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
RIMPAC 2014 reportedly involve 55 vessels, more than 200 aircraft, and some 25,000 personnel.
The wrecked ship was hauled upright last year and eventually re-floated on Jul. 14. Kept afloat by giant buoyancy chambers, it is currently being towed by dozen vessels.
The removal and the subsequent journey to the Genoa scrapyard in northwestern Italy is being filmed by drones, that provide a unique point of view on one of the biggest maritime salvage operations ever attempted.
By means of AIS (Automatic Identification System), an automatic tracking system used for identification and geo-localization of vessels that can be considered the naval homologous of the ADS-B used by airplanes you can follow the ship being towed by tug boats in real time here.
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution have used the social network to make public their plan to attack enemy ships in the Strait of Hormuz.
The IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), the branch of Iran’s military whose role is to protect Tehran’s Islamic system, have published on Twitter an interesting drawing showing how they imagine an attack to an enemy warship entering the Persian Gulf.
The plan is use several different weapons systems in a coordinated attack opened by high speed boats, used to create a diversion.
According to Good Morning Iran blog, that translated the text accompanying the rendering, the plan assumes that Iranian high speed boats, equipped with missiles and mines, and disguising themselves as normal fishing boats, would carry out an initial attack against the enemy ship.
The latter could be the two types showcased during an exhibition held by the IRGC on May 11.
The new home-made ballistic missiles, an upgraded version of the solid-fuel, supersonic Iranian anti-ship missile dubbed Persian Gulf equipped with a 650-kg warhead, are dubbed Hormuz 1 and Hormuz 2.
Both missiles are believed to be more powerful than the Persian Gulf, with the Hormuz 1 being an anti-radar missile with a range of 300 kilometers.
Image credit: Tasnim News Agency
That said, the plan is obviously quite optimistic, as it considers a U.S. warship as an isolated unit, whereas the latter may operate within a large, powerful and very well defended Carried Strike Group, which includes an aircraft carrier, destroyers, supporting vessels and, often, a nuclear submarine, whose task is, among the others, to defend the Group from underwater attacks.
A reader has found that the image posted by the Pasdaran on Twitter is an infographic posted in the past by the Wall Street Journal. IRGC replaced the English text with Farsi: therefore, even if it’s not their original work, the fact they translated and published it on Twitter means they consider it accurate and most probably coherent with their plan.
However, the SpaceX launch was delayed and, since then, the ship has moved back and forth along U.S. East coast: it headed southbound, has made a port visit to Curacao, then it has operated in the Caribbean Sea and eventually returned more or less where it was on Mar. 15 and it is right now: off Cape Canaveral.
The fact that the tug moved off Cape Kennedy in the days of the scheduled launch of SpaceX and returned there in anticipation of the new launch window suggests that the “Nikolay Chiker” is somehow interested in observing the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft on the company’s third commercial resupply mission and fourth visit to the space station.
However, there’s someone who suggested that the ocean tug is actually supporting Russian nuclear attack submarines monitoring U.S. Navy East coast bases.
Hard to say.
For sure the Russian tug is not there by accident. During the Cold War, Russian and Americans have monitored each others special special operations, military exercises, invasions, maiden flights etc. This is not changed with the collapse of the USSR. On the contrary, close encounters (as the one in the Black Sea) and reciprocal snooping are probably going to increase.