'Tracked' Mini Submarines in Swedish waters - 1980's

mr_london_247

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In the Eighties there was an infamous spate of submarine incidents in Swedish waters, apparently involving mini submarines penetrating close to shore (and even inside harbour areas). From the reports at least some of these would appear to have been fitted with Caterpillar/Tank style Tracks enabling them to crawl on the bottom (such alleged tracks were seen and photographed).

Ola Tunander's book is about the best account IMO of the intrigues going on around this time (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-War-Against-Sweden-Submarine/dp/0714682756).

Although mainstream reports would have these mini-subs as inevitably being of Soviet or Russian origin (inc. tales of seeing 'Spetsnaz' frogmen ashore and such), there was certainly more going on than met the eye and Western nations may well have been involved....

I've never been able to find pictures of such vehicles (but had a fascination at the time and still do), so quite simply: does anyone have any?, or might anyone have further to add?

In the book there is a hint of such tracked subs being possibly of Italian design?

(Nothing on NR-1 or other American mini-subs please: these are very well known)
 

quellish

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mr_london_247 said:
In the Eighties there was an infamous spate of submarine incidents in Swedish waters, apparently involving mini submarines penetrating close to shore (and even inside harbour areas). From the reports at least some of these would appear to have been fitted with Caterpillar/Tank style Tracks enabling them to crawl on the bottom (such alleged tracks were seen and photographed).

Ola Tunander's book is about the best account IMO of the intrigues going on around this time (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-War-Against-Sweden-Submarine/dp/0714682756).

Although mainstream reports would have these mini-subs as inevitably being of Soviet or Russian origin (inc. tales of seeing 'Spetsnaz' frogmen ashore and such), there was certainly more going on than met the eye and Western nations may well have been involved....

I've never been able to find pictures of such vehicles (but had a fascination at the time and still do), so quite simply: does anyone have any?, or might anyone have further to add?

In the book there is a hint of such tracked subs being possibly of Italian design?

(Nothing on NR-1 or other American mini-subs please: these are very well known)
I THINK this is what the Russian submarines turned out to be:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priz
Which matches some of the photos that were going around at the time. I have not seen any information on them actually having tracks though.
 

mr_london_247

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Ahh - thanks Quellish, but yes no tracks on the publicly availiable pictures at least?

Reading between the lines in Tunanders book [he concentrates on the verifiable to his credit] it appeared considerable effort was made by the Swedish Navy to catch (photograph I assume) their mystery crawling visitor - but only a picture of a set of tracks was publicly released...
 

Abraham Gubler

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I remember reading that the tracks had been found to be part of a bottom running trawler gear. Of course the Soviets did quite a few penetrations of Swedish waters but the two are not necessarily connected.
 

mr_london_247

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Indeed they aren't... but the point of the thread is these specific contacts [involving tracks] from that time.
 

Lauge

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mr_london_247 said:
....but only a picture of a set of tracks was publicly released...
The joke going around in Denmark (and parts of Sweden) at the time was that the tracks were most likely made by a mermaid pushing a pram........

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
 

Trident

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The incident(s) is/are mentioned, along with a generic line drawing of the tracked mini sub illustrating the Swedish ELMA-U anti-sub mortar, in "Modern Submarine Warfare" by David Miller and John Jordan, p.192 (German edition). Curiously enough, the book alleges that Pravda published photos in the 1970s! I do agree though that this was probably based on misinterpretations of various clues, with hindsight.
 

mr_london_247

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Trident said:
The incident(s) is/are mentioned, along with a generic line drawing of the tracked mini sub illustrating the Swedish ELMA-U anti-sub mortar, in "Modern Submarine Warfare" by David Miller and John Jordan, p.192 (German edition). Curiously enough, the book alleges that Pravda published photos in the 1970s! I do agree though that this was probably based on misinterpretations of various clues, with hindsight.
A good tip - thank you.
 

mr_london_247

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RAND Report "Stranger Than Fiction: Soviet Submarine Operations in Swedish Waters" quoting the Swedish "Submarine Defense Commission Report" (http://www.dtic.mil/srch/doc?collection=t3&id=ADA238953):

The commission concluded that at least six submarines were involved in the operation in Harsfjarden sound. Three of these were believed to be mini-submarines, at least one of which was a type of tracked vehicle capable of crawling along the seabed.
 

Grey Havoc

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From a decade earlier:

The Mystery of What Happened to the AN/APR-9


Once recovered, the wreck of the aircraft and surrounding seabed were transported to Muskö Naval Base, a Swedish underground naval facility on the island of Muskö, located just south of Stockholm. The naval base is considered one of Sweden’s most secure, being carved directly into the sides of granite cliffs that jut vertically out of the water. (Today, it is largely closed with only a portion of its 20 kms of tunnels and rooms still active.) Once the recovered aircraft was at the base, a team of security professionals, among others, went to work examining the debris. Recovery specialists began to comb through the seabed to uncover any bodies and other pertinent debris that might aid in the investigation of what happened and how the aircraft was lost.

One of the key items was to recover the AN/APR-9 ELINT equipment from the aircraft. Even after the passage of five decades, the device and its potential contents (if any were still recoverable, which was doubtful) remained classified as secret. The search of the recovered surrounding seabed allowed a complete, in-depth forensic analysis of the crash site and the wreckage itself. Everything was examined closely so as to find and recover the ELINT hardware and other key equipment.

Surprisingly, there was no sign of the American-made AN/APR-9 ELINT radar intercept system. Where had it gone? Had the Soviets undertaken a secret underwater recovery during the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s, perhaps using a submarine and divers to do seabed recovery? It seemed like something out of a James Bond movie, where divers approach the wreck and dismantle the electronics gear on board to take it back to the Soviet Union for secret analysis — but it was all too possible that exactly that had happened.

If this was accomplished by the Soviets, it is likely to have happened no later than in the early to mid-1970s (during that time, the US continued operating the AN/APR-9 ELINT system and it was a key piece of equipment during the Vietnam War). Such a recovery would have been an easy task for the newly deployed Soviet India Class submarine that debuted at that time. The India Class carried two IRM amphibious reconnaissance vehicles that could travel along the seabed on tracks or operate in “swimming mode” with a propeller. In fact, one of the two India Class submarines was deployed with the Northern Fleet from 1976 to 1994. The IRMs were likely to have been pioneered before the submarine was completed.

Whether or not this happened is probably something that will eventually come to light from the Soviet archives. In any case, the circumstantial evidence is compelling — most likely, the Soviets pulled off a covert intelligence coup. As any intelligence professional can attest, truth really is stranger than fiction after all.


http://fly.historicwings.com/2012/06/the-catalina-affair-part-3-of-3/
 

mr_london_247

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As a result, some new photos for me of this possible suspect 'IRM' (DSRV 1837K?):

http://www.betasom.it/forum/index.php?showtopic=34781
 

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Catalytic

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:eek: been a couple of excellent weeks for spf IMHO

thanks for sharing!
 

mr_london_247

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Bauman designed and built numerous specialty vehicles, for example, a bottom crawler, an object (torpedo?) retriever, the Manta and Aquator (circa 1978) ROVs, and Triton. No specifications were made available, but the author has the impression that they are 10- to 15-year-old systems.
http://www.wtec.org/loyola/subsea/c5_s3.htm
 

Grey Havoc

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http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_SWEDEN_SUBMARINE_SEARCH?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-10-17-13-00-44
 

quellish

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I'm still wondering what the reasoning behind a tracked submersible for this type of mission would be. There would be plenty of drawbacks - unpredictable terrain and bottom composition, easy to foul or break the tracks, etc. and very few advantages that I could see.
 

blackstar

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quellish said:
I'm still wondering what the reasoning behind a tracked submersible for this type of mission would be. There would be plenty of drawbacks - unpredictable terrain and bottom composition, easy to foul or break the tracks, etc. and very few advantages that I could see.
If you're already on the bottom you cannot run aground...
 

covert_shores

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I think 'tracked' is misleading, it sounds too much like tank tracks. It could be wheels (like the retired NR1) or just the scraping of a keel.
 
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