The Swedish Government has granted approval for the USA to lease a Gotland-class submarine for a period of twelve months, complete with crew, to participate in joint exercises with the US Navy. The submarine will operate from bases on both the east and west coasts of the United States.
This Swedish participation is designed to enhance the Swedish Navy’s ability to cooperate with the armed forces of other nations when participating in international peacekeeping operations. According to the Swedish Government press release, this cooperation is also expected to yield favourable synergies in areas such as the development of submarine systems, the development of sensors and ongoing cooperation in materials development.
Gotland-class submarines, built by Kockums, are equipped with the Stirling AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) system. This allows a “conventional” (non-nuclear) submarine to remain submerged for weeks at a time, avoiding the need to surface for air and risk detection. This signifies a dramatic increase in operational efficiency. The Gotland-class boats also feature excellent stealth capabilities, and have performed extremely well in international exercises, especially against the US Navy’s nuclear submarines.
Swedish submarines are designed specifically for operating in the shallow waters of the littoral zone, and Swedish Navy crews are specially trained in the skills essential to missions in this niche sector. Since the September 11 terrorist attack, possible threat scenarios embrace precisely this type of littoral zone, which is highly susceptible to terrorist attack.
The Swedish Government granted approval for the lease of a submarine, complete with crew, at a cabinet meeting on October 28th 2004. The naval exercises will be initiated as early as the first half of 2005.
The newspaper Blekinge Läns Tidning writes: The American’s interest in this type of submarine was aroused earlier, during joint naval exercises, when the USN failed in its efforts to track a Gotland-class sub. Sweden’s conventional (non-nuclear) submarines are small and feature stealth technology that enables them to remain hidden beneath the surface for weeks at a time, without risk of revealing their position. Their smaller size also means that they can operate in shallower littoral waters.
“An exchange of information at this level benefits Sweden as well as the USA. It enhances our ability to cooperate with other nations in international peacekeeping missions,” notes Hans Bjernby, a military adviser at Sweden’s Ministry of Defence.
”The US Navy is a blue-water navy, designed to operate in the major oceans of the world, and faces a considerable challenge in protecting itself from hostile submarines in shallow littoral waters. The Swedish submarines are silent running and equipped with excellent combat management systems,” writes Svenska Dagbladet.