Can Swedes keep subs at bay?

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Sweden must step up efforts to stop foreign submarines in the outer part of its territorial sea, says the admiral who will soon be commander in chief of Sweden's Navy.

Vice-Adm. Bengt Shubach, who will take the top naval post in October, signaled this priority recently after Sweden issued a report on foreign submarine activity in its waters.

The report said this neutral country's Navy lacks proper equipment and resources to combat many subs, frogmen, and unconventional operations in even the shallow waters close to its harbors.

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The military and an independent panel of civilian experts said extensive underwater activity by a foreign power using full-size submarines, minisubs, frogmen, and special equipment had been conducted near the port of Karlskrona during February and March.

Swedish investigators didn't specify which foreign power had violated Swedish territory, but foreign military experts have said it is probably naval special forces of the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact. About a year ago, Sweden publicly accused the Soviets of sending minisubs on a mission near a major secret naval facility, in October 1982.

Last spring a report on submarine activity included photographs of submarine tracks on the sea floor. Sweden's charges that Moscow was responsible were apparently based on radio and signal intercepts indicating Soviet origin.

The latest report on submarine activity said three foreign divers had been spotted Sept. 27 surveying an underwater mine field in the Stockholm archipelago , and one member of the team came ashore on an island in a restricted military area. It was near Karlskrona that a Soviet submarine armed with nuclear weapons ran aground in the fall of 1981.

Foreign military analysts say it is easier, especially with outdated equipment, to locate and destroy submarines in the open sea. A major purpose of Soviet missions in Sweden's inner waters and archipelagos is presumed to be reconnaissance or training for sabotage and commando missions.

If Soviet naval commandos were to knock out key Swedish defense facilities, the Swedes would have little reason and possibly few resources for attacking intruders farther out to sea. The Soviets have already shown they can move in Swedish waters during peacetime without fear of serious harm. The Soviet interest in Swedish waters has been linked to a general rise of tension in the Nordic region in connection with the East-West chill.

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