Ocean X Team and the Midget Submarine that wasn’t

The mysterious submarine found inside Swedish waters this week (27.07) has turned out to be the Imperial Russian submarine Som, lead ship of its class. The vessel sank in a collision with the Swedish steamer Ångermanland (also reported incorrectly as being named Ingermanland). In a bizarre twist of fate, Ångermanland was coming from the port of Mäntyluoto, Pori, in what was at the time the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland, carrying packages for Russian POW’s held in Germany. The Som was originally laid down as the Fulton by the legendary Electric Boat Company, and served as the prototype for one of the US Navy’s first submarine classes, the Plunger-class, . The details of the sinking have been known [1, 2, 3], but the exact location of the wreck has so far not been determined.

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Som during happier times. Photo via Alexey Loginov / Timothy Choi

During the first few hours after the find was publicised there was a host of speculation about the location, origin, and age of the wreck. This was largely created by the fact that the Ocean X Team gave very limited info to media:

The submarine looked “modern”, but could be from the 80’s, it was found roughly 1.5 nautical miles (2.75 km) from the coast, clearly inside Swedish waters, and the hatches were closed. No to very little damage was visible externally. The vessel was roughly 20 meters in length, and around 3 meters wide. And there were what looked like Cyrillic signs on the wreck.

Added to this, a small amount of video clips were released, without any comments regarding which part of the hull was in picture at any given moment. A single multibeam sonar picture of the wreck in its entirety was also released.

All in all, the original picture given was that the submarine was a midget submarine, dating from the time of the great Swedish subhunts, or newer. This, coupled with the Cyrillic lettering, made the wreck politically sensitive.

However, things soon started to fall apart for Ocean X Team.

Age, identity, and origin

Submarine designs have varied greatly over the 100+ years they have been in active service. The early submarines had usually a somewhat cigar-shaped hull, with the conning towers being either completly absent or very low (the terms ‘sail’ and ‘conning tower’ are often used interchangeably in English, although this is technically incorrect). The leading designer of this time was John P. Holland of the abovementioned Electric Boat Company, which either directly through exported designs or indirectly by influencing other designers set the pattern for these early vessels. Som is an example of the former, with Hajen, Sweden’s first submarine, is an example of the latter. Hajen was designed and built in Sweden, but clearly patterned after Holland’s designs. It currently resides as a museum ship in Marinmuseum in Karlskrona.

Sweden’s first submarine Hajen next to the modern-pattern Neptun. The boat-like bow on Hajen was added during a refit in 1916, with the new part being easily distinguishable as having been simply welded on. Source: Wikimedia Commons / Daderot

In the years leading up to and during the WWI, the hull form started to evolve, with the top of the hull becoming flatter and the bow and stern becoming more ‘shiplike’, first with straight plumb bows, and later with different kinds of raked or angled bows. The submarines started growing larger, and the sails became higher and more pronounced. The large amounts of railings used on the early designs started to be replaced by removable railings mainly used when the vessels lay at anchor. Welding also started to be used more and more instead of traditional rivets, until eventually the submarines became of all-welded construction in the years leading up to WWII. These boats, optimised for performance on the surface, would reach their climax in the early 40’s. The classic German U-boats of the Type VII and Type IX classes belong to this group.

The German U-boat U-995 of the Type VII-class in Kiel. Note the large tower, boat-like bow and level upper deck. Suorce: Wikimedia Commons/Darkone

During the war and in the immediate post-war period, advances in propulsion for submarines, and in search radars for the submarine’s adversaries, meant that the focus shifted from surface to sub-surface operations. As such, the hull forms started to shift yet again, with the decks becoming smaller (relative to the hull size), and everything started to become rounded to lower drag and avoid turbulences. All kinds of fixed railings disappeared.

USS Albacore, launched in 1953, pioneered the drop-shaped hull which gives superior underwater performance compared to earlier slender hullforms. Note the complete absence of sharp angles and pointed features. Source: Wikimedia Commons/US Navy

As a general rule of thumb, midget submarines (which started to appear during WWII) have followed roughly the same pattern as the conventional submarines, but are smaller.

In other words, in the same way as a car-enthusiast finding the remains of a rusted car in a backyard would have no problem in telling whether it’s a fifties American muscle car or an eighties Japanese compact, no one with even a basic knowledge of submarines should have any problem with determining the wreck of a Holland-type submarine such as Som from that of a post-WWII midget submarine. Especially if the hull is “largely intact and not showing any signs of damage”.

With regards to the lack of vegetation and sediments, several people, most notably Ola Oskarsson, noted that more or less all wrecks in the Baltic Sea that are found at depths deeper than 40 meters shows very little growth or sediments, and as such this is not an indication that the wreck is new. Who is Ola Oskarsson then? He’s the founder, member of the board, and Market Developer of MMT, a Swedish diving and sea survey company that has found numerous wrecks, including submarines of varying age and the Swedish Air Force DC-3 downed by Soviet fighters in the fifties (however, unlike Ocean X Team, MMT have never found an UFO…).

Within hours of the discovery it was soon clear that the most likely candidate for the wreck was Som. It was one of relatively few submarine-classes ever built to measure around 20 meters in length (Som having an LOA of 19.3 m), with even WWI submarines often measuring 30 meters and above, and midget submarines usually (to the extent that one can generalise a midget submarine) being 10-15 meters in length. Several details also matched, and the Som was supposed to have sunk in Swedish waters west of the Åland Islands. As it was a Tsarist-submarine, the pre-1918 spelling, “Сомъ”, would also have included the hard sign ‘Ъ’, which was visible in the videos released from the wreck.

The scam is revealed

The really interesting part was when it started to become clear that Ocean X Team had deliberately been searching for the Som for at least a year.

In July 2014, Peter Lindberg (confirmed to be the same Peter Lindberg that’s part of Ocean X Team through cross-matching e-mail addresses used) asked for details about the fate of Som, and received the general story and the location of the wreck “between SwartklubbenArholma”. In both Finnish and Danish news, iXplorer Ocean Research, the Russian/Icelandic team that was revealed to have been the source which found the coordinates in a Russian archive before handing them to Ocean X Team, confirmed that they had been looking for the Som:

“We’ve been looking for it for about two years now. Ocean X Team is one of the companies we have been working quite a lot with.”

Did Ocean X Team know that it was the Som you were looking for?

“Yes.”

Kristján Eldjárn Jóhannesson in DR.dk

 

“Maybe some in our team decided to conspire a bit, I don’t know why. Anyway, it is clear that this is a Russian vessel, but it is far from being a modern one.”

Alexey Mikhailov (aka “Max Rite”) in Helsingin Sanomat

Of added interest was the fact that the videos shown had the date stamp 15.07, i.e. the Ocean X Team had twelve days to shift through the material before presenting it to media. Note that while we do not know the full scope of the material available to Ocean X Team, it is most probably far longer than the short second clip shown publicly, and includes video of the nameplate.

Ocean X Team’s response when faced with the allegations that they had knowingly concealed the age and identity of the submarine to get added publicity, was to state that they thought Som would be “much further south”, that they haven’t been able to compare the sail with any pictures to be certain of the ID of the class (the Som had an extensive rebuild in 1914, and there are apparently no detailed drawings of the final outcome), that the picture of the nameplate found by Peter Krantz had evaded them (a fact Lindberg admitted was “embarrassing”), and that they had received “very limited information” from iXplorer.

Peter Lindberg is trying to tell us that a professional team with years of experience diving in the Baltic Sea:

  • Didn’t know about the special conditions in the Baltic Sea that preserves old wrecks really well,
  • Were so sure of the reported position of where the Som went down, that they, despite the relatively primitive navigational aids found on board a coastal steamer in 1916, didn’t even consider the possibility it could be wrong,
  • That Ocean X Team during almost two weeks of analysing the material and comparing it to their research, wasn’t able to come up with a plausible ID of the wreck,
  • That the above is true despite them capturing the nameplate of the ship on film,
  • That iXplorer is lying when they affirm that Ocean X Team knew that the coordinates sent should lead to Som,
  • That when they themselves were unable to confirm what wreck they had found, they didn’t ask iXplorer what they thought the coordinates should lead to,
  • That they did not find it odd that the the damage of the wreck (some “pipes” in the sail being bent, the vessel otherwise looking intact) exactly matched the damage Som suffered according to the master of S/S Ångermanland (“[T]he submarine [probably] received a light push, damaging the periscope, but not the vessel itself”, article in DN 24.05.1916, found by historian Lars Gyllenhaal),
  • That they were not able to distinguish the classic lines of a Holland-type vessel from a modern midget submarine despite the team having researched the Som for at least a year and having twelve days to go through the pictures of the wreck,
  • Despite knowing there was a submarine confirmed to have sunk in the general area, they still found it more likely that the wreck was from an unknown “modern” midget submarine, even when there were no indication that any midget submarine would have sunk in the area,
  • And finally, they didn’t even care to mention the Som in the opening speculations, despite it fitting the description of the wreck on numerous points.

Except for the point about iXplorer lying about whether or not they had forwarded the info that the coordinates given should lead to Som, I find all of the bullet points above highly questionable. I am no diver, but I find wreck hunting extremely interesting, and have a general picture of how this is usually conducted. Any diver looking for a wreck will tell you that the lion’s share of the work is the background research, spending hours and hours in archives and scanning old newspapers and official reports. This also seems to be the case here, with at least a year, probably more, of background work going into this project before the wreck was actually found. That they during this year would have missed such basic facts as the name Som being spelled with a hard sign, or the general shape of a Holland-class submarine, means that the Ocean X Team is either sloppy, incompetent, or lying. In light of their earlier successes, I find the first two rather unlikely.

John P. Holland in the tower of one of his designs. Notice the small size of the submarine. Source: Wikimedia Commons

A far more likely explanation than ineptitude is that the whole thing is a PR-stunt made to bring publicity and hard cash to the team, something that is supported by the poor financial state of the company. The sums taken for publishing the material might also be of interest: 10 seconds of video goes for 35,000 SEK (~3 700 EUR), while still pictures go for 10,000 SEK (1 055 EUR) a piece according to DR.

Info-ops?

Much has been made about the Russian connections, and how the borderline hysteria the initial reports created has been used by Russian state-controlled media to discredit the Swedish subhunt which last year was able to confirm foreign underwater activity deep inside Swedish waters.

Still, to say that Ocean X Team is on Putin’s payroll is to jump to conclusions. It may well be that the idea of presenting the find as a potential modern-day intruder stemmed from Russia, and was proposed to Ocean X Team by iXplorer as a great way (or so it seemed at the time) to get more publicity out of an otherwise very niched find. If this is the case, one can safely assume that Ocean X Team believed iXplorer would support the story, and not throw them under the bus at first opportunity. It may also be that the idea came from Ocean X Team themselves, and that Russian state propaganda simply decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

Wherever the idea originated, it was ruthlessly used by the Kremlin for their own purposes. I find it entirely possible that Mikhailov, having served as a diver in the Russian Northern Fleet, was sincere in wanting to find the submarine and the last resting place of his brothers in arms, and that either he or someone closer to one of Kremlin’s intelligence agencies somewhere along the way realised that the project could also provide an opportunity for a propaganda coup as well. This would be supported by the time scale: we know that Ocean X Team, and presumably iXplorer as well, has worked on finding Som at least for a year, probably longer. The need for a submarine-based propaganda story aimed at Sweden was far smaller/non-existent last July, not to mention two years ago in the pre-Crimean age of European security.

At this point, the best Ocean X Team could do is probably to come clean, admit they tried to enlarge the public interest in the story by leaving out certain details, and apologies to the media, the public, and the experts they misled. Admitting to having been outsmarted by iXplorer might hurt, but trying to stick with a story that’s basically telling the world that they don’t know how/didn’t care to do proper research will probably hurt even more in the long run. Naturally, if there have been undeclared money transfers involved as some has hinted at, coming out might not be possible unless they are prepared to have a talk with the Swedish tax agency (bad case) or SÄPO (worse case).

…And on a lighter note, it seems Finnish media has greater trust in the amazing powers of crowd-source information gathering than Swedish 😉

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Sunken Midget Submarine in Swedish Waters

Edit: This was a very early post, written during the unfolding of the event. If you are looking for information regarding the true nature of the submarine, and how the Ocean X Team cleverly played the media, possibly with Russian backing, see this post.

Swedish underwater survey company Ocean X Team has today announced that they’ve found a midget submarine in Swedish waters. This has raised a number of questions, which has been met by more or less informed speculation. The information released so far is very limited:

  • Ocean X Team received a location from an Icelandic company, and when searching there they found the wreck,
  • The wreck has seemingly very little damage, none of which seems to indicate that it has been damaged in combat,
  • It has very little growth on it, some have speculated that it has been on the bottom for around a year or less,
  • In size, the vessel is around 20 meters long, and around 3 meters in width,
  • There seems to be Cyrillic signs on it, namely the letter ‘Ъ’ (jer, the hard sign), and what looks like a ‘I’ in front of it,
  • The hatches are closed, leading to speculation that the crew is dead inside.

To take it from the top, it is an open guess how the Icelanders knew about it, but there are certainly contacts between Icelandic and Russian companies. With regards to the amount of growth, this is hard to judge, as the rate of growth is dependent on a number of different factors, such as water quality, depth, salinity, temperature, and so forth. A number of submarines have spent long times under water in similar conditions in the Baltic Sea, such as a Soviet Whiskey-class submarine that spent roughly 20-25 years on the bottom outside of Gotland, as well as Swedish submarine Springaren that was raised after 11 years on the bottom as a training item. Both show surprisingly little growth.

Ex-German, ex-French, Seehund-class midget submarine. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Rama

With regards to type, midget submarines are usually built in small numbers, and their very existence is often a state secret. The aft part of the coning towers of German WWII-era Seehund midget submarines shows a surprising similarity to some of the pictures seen. However, the Seehund is shorter in length (12 m) than the reported length (20 m). Of interest is that a number of Seehund submarines, as well as a number of ex-Italian CB-class submarines, are reported to have been in Soviet service post-war.

The Cyrillic writing might be some kind of hull letter, but this is pure speculation. Whether the crew is inside or not is an open question so far. Until more information is released, there exist a few major possibilities:

1) The submarine sunk during WWII, when a number of submarines disappeared without a trace,
2) The submarine has been out on a covert operation that went wrong, hence no emergency signal,
3) Some readers will recall the rumours last autumn that a submarine had sent an emergency signal to a station in Kaliningrad. However, Ocean X Team has stated that they do not believe this submarine is connected to last year’s Red October incident.

Edit: While writing, a more credible source than the small Seehund has appeared: Nameship of Imperial Russian Som-class sank in a collision with a Swedish steamer in 1916. Its measurements are very close to those given by the survey team. Credits to Skipper.

MTA 2020 – The Corvette is Taking Shape

The Finnish Navy celebrated its yearly Navy Day (fi. Merivoimien vuosipäivä) last week on the 9th of July, the date being that of the (Second) Battle of Svensksund, outside of modern-day Kotka, where a Swedish (Finland being part of Sweden back then) fleet in 1790 defeated and routed a stronger Russian fleet to turn the tide of the otherwise rather unsuccessful Russo-Swedish War of 1788–90. As part of these celebrations, Counter admiral Takanen, the CO of the Navy, gave a few further details on the status of the MTA 2020 project for new surface vessels.

Let’s begin with a short recap: a few years ago the Finnish flagship FNS Pohjanmaa was retired, the ship having functioned as a dual-purpose minelayer/training vessel. The two similarly sized minelayers of the Hämeenmaa-class (displacing 1,000 t), FNS Hämeenmaa and FNS Uusimaa, as well as the four fast-attack craft of the Rauma-class are all set to follow suit sometime around 2025. The minelayers can, aside from laying mines, act as command vessels for flotillas and have a limited anti-air and anti-submarine tasking, something which was demonstrated when FNS Uusimaa drove away an underwater intruder outside of Helsinki earlier this year.

Finnish Minelayer FNS Uusimaa. Source: Wikimedia Commons/MKFI

The Rauma-class are traditional FAC’s, dating from the early 90’s. The small 215 ton vessels feature up to six Saab MTO-85M (RBS15 Mk3) anti-ship missiles, a small number of mines, or a towed array to search for submarines with. They are also armed with anti-submarine rockets, as is the Hämeenmaa-class. The aluminium-hulled vessels are starting to show their age, and they were temporarily removed from service earlier this year due to hull cracks. FNS Naantali has now been modified to cure these, and is back in service. If the modification is a success, the other three vessels will also be modified.

Both Finnish FAC-classes next to each other: FNS Rauma in front and FNS Hamina behind. Source: Wikimedia Commons/MKFI

The retirement of these seven vessels would leave the Finnish Navy with four FAC of the slightly larger (235 t) and vastly more modern Hamina-class. These vessels are equipped with four MTO-85M anti-ship missiles, and eight ITO 04 (Denel Umkhonto) surface-to-air missiles, and have a limited mining ability. In other words, a replacement for the outgoing vessels is sorely needed.

The MTA 2020 has been in the plans for quite some time, but very limited information has surfaced so far. The interview with Takanen published in Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat is the most detailed look into the project we have had so far.

The vessels, of which there will be four, will be corvettes of around 90 meters in length. The former Soviet-built Riga-class frigates (1,260 t, called ‘Uusimaa’-class in Finnish service) was mentioned by the Admiral for size-comparison. As such, they will be amongst the longest combat ships ever to have served in the Finnish Navy, and provide a quantum leap in capability and endurance compared to current vessels.

Riga-class frigate FNS Hämeenmaa in 1982. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Rabbesandelin

The armament will consist of “modern anti-ship missiles”, as well as lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes. This will be the first time the Finnish Navy operates torpedoes after they were banned during negotiations post-World War II. Edit: The Riga-class was equipped with a tripple-torpedo tube for 533 mm torpedoes during the beginning of their career. Thanks to Mikko Laaksonen for pointing out! As the vessel will be designed to counter surface, sub-surface, as well as airborne threats, it is safe to assume it will be equipped with modern surface-to-air missiles, despite this not being explicitly mentioned in the article. The choice of anti-ship missile is currently being studied.

The vessel will feature the ability to lay mines, and will be built from steel. They will be designed to be able to operate around the year in Finnish conditions, i.e. including in ice, as well as in the warmer climate of international operations.

Currently, the closest vessels in operation with regards to size and capability are the German K130 Braunschweig-class of corvettes, based on the MEKO A100-concept. These corvettes, displacing 1,840 t and measuring 88.75 m in length, feature four RBS15 Mk3 for anti-shipping work and two 21-round SAM-launchers for the RIM-116 surface-to-air missile. Aft they are equipped with flight decks capable of handling helicopters up to the size of the NH90 (currently in use by the Finnish Army), but no hangar for storing these during operations. Two notable differences from the Finnish specification is the lack of anti-submarine capability and ice-going capability. The price for five vessels is given as 1.2 billion Euros (~240 million per vessel). An interesting comparison is the four vessels of the class that Israel has bought, which will be locally known as the Sa’ar 6-class. These will be bought from Germany but have their final outfitting, including installation of armaments, done in Israel, their price tag as delivered from Germany will be around 430 million Euros for four vessels (~107 million per vessel). This goes to show that on a modern warship, the better part of the cost is not the vessel itself, but the combat systems.

Braunschweig-class corvette Ludwigshafen am Rhein at the degaussing range in Wilhelmshaven. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Ein Dahmer

What then to make of this new information? The number of vessels, a reduction in hulls almost by half, is a disappointment. Still, considering the cost of the program, it could have been far worse. The striking capability of the navy as whole will get a marked increase both in absolute and relative terms, but that doesn’t mean that the four vessels can be everywhere at once. On the plus side, the Finnish south coast is short, measuring roughly 450 km from the eastern border to the western (maritime) border with Sweden, so with the range of modern sensors and weapons a single squadron can control (or at least contest) a rather large portion of that sea and air space. Sub-surface threats on the other hand still require the vessel to be in close contact to locate and attack them, especially in the demanding conditions of the Baltic Sea, so the number of vessels will have a larger impact on the capability to conduct simultaneous ASW-operations, although the introduction of torpedoes is a marked improvement in this field.

With regards to the anti-shipping missiles, a connection can be drawn to the HX-contenders, many of which feature different anti-shipping missiles. It would seem logical that the same missile that the eventual HX-plane might be equipped with would also be the choice for the navy, in the same way that the Navy currently operates the same missile from ships and trucks (MTO-85M), as well as having the same short-range missile as the Army (RO2006/PstOhj 2000, Eurospike-ER and -MR respecitvely). The time schedule for the MTA 2020 might however be too tight for these considerations.

Red April – The Harmaja Subhunt

Finnish territory apparently was intruded upon yesterday and today (27-28.04.2015). It is only logical to compare this to the so called Red October-incident that took place within Swedish waters last autumn, and while I am aware that others have already done so, I decided to have a go at it anyway.

The Intrusion

First a recap of the events: Yesterday an underwater listening station picked up a “loud and clear” sound that indicated the presence of underwater activity outside of Harmaja, at the outskirts of Helsinki. The vessel on call, mine ship FNS Uusimaa, was called to the scene. Sometimes later, the second vessel on call, fast attack craft FNS Hanko, was alerted, and the Finnish border guards were informed. The border guards responded by sending the patrol vessel VL Turva. Of note is that the most competent ASW-ships in the Finnish navy, the Rauma-class fast attack crafts, are all temporarily out of service since February, due to hull cracks. Of the three vessels involved, only Uusimaa can be said to have a serious anti-submarine capability, with Turva not being armed in peacetime and Hanko lacking in search equipment.

VL Turva, the brand new flagship of the Finnish border guards. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Cha già José

Still, contact was renewed around 01:30 in the early hours of today (28.04.2015), and after the “underwater object” had been tracked for around an hour and a half, the Commanding Officer of Uusimaa decided to fire warning charges. These are not depth charges per se, but rather small handheld charges that detonate underwater, their aim being to tell the submarine “We know you’re there, and we don’t like it. Please move on!”

At around 03:00, six charges were dropped by Uusimaa, the result of which was that “no further warnings, or depth charges, were needed”. In other words, the underwater object left Finnish waters. Later today the naval vessels left the scene of the operation, while the border guards have started an investigation into the incident. The investigation includes going through all acquired material, and may take weeks. Obviously, major parts of the investigation will probably never be released to the public, due to the sensitive nature of the information, e.g. the location and capabilities of the underwater listening stations.

To note is that so far the nature of the “underwater object” has not been confirmed, but a small submarine seems to be the most likely culprit. However, this gives Finland and Sweden an opportunity to “compare notes”, and check if it was the same intruder, and what can be learnt from these two incidents.

Similarities

To begin with, the obvious case is that both non-aligned nations in northern Europe have seen their waters intruded upon by an unknown nation within the time span of less than a year (curiously enough, none of the NATO-states have reported the same thing). In both cases, it happened during the interregnum after parliamentary elections. In Finland’s case, today was the day Juha Sipilä officially got the mission to form a government.

If this is a message aimed at scaring Finland away from NATO by a show of force, I believe it will fail. Most probably, it will not have any major effect on the Finnish opinion, and in the case it does, it will most probably only give the pro-NATO side a small push forwards.

FNS Uusimaa (05). Suorce: Puolustusvoimat
FNS Uusimaa (05) firing ASW rockets. These are the probable weapon of choice if the order to destroy the intruder would have been issued. Suorce: Puolustusvoimat

In both cases, the navy responded in force, and was rather open with information about the event (and in both cases, the press was happy to fly over the area with their helicopters to provide live feeds). I would especially like to express my appreciation of the open and straightforward communication with the public that the navy initiated, something that has not always been the case.

The Differences

There are, however, notable differences. First and foremost, while the Swedish operation was deep inside Swedish waters, the Finnish contact was on the edge of Finnish territory. This meant that the Finnish operation was of a very different nature, with the main aim seemingly being to chase away the intruder. As far as I know, there was never any use of either alert or depth charges during the Swedish operation, which might be an indication of the Finnish vessels acquiring a better fix on their target (the other alternative is that the Swedish vessels were trying to fire for effect, which naturally requires a higher degree of target identification than alert charges).

An interesting detail is that while the Finnish navy described similar incidents as “rare”, with the last two taking place in 2004, the Swedish navy stated that similar incidents had indeed taken place earlier. Edit 29042015: Finnish officials today confirmed that with “similar incidents”, only incidents when alert charges were dropped are counted. They refused to comment on the issue whether underwater intruders were as rare. No exact numbers exist from either country, but the question whether this was a one-off incident, or whether someone will start testing Finland’s defences more often remains open for now.

A noteworthy feature is the reaction of Russian media. When Sweden started their subhunt, it took a few days for Russian national media before they got their propaganda machine going and started to create new theories. In this case, the news reports started coming instantly from Russian sources. RIA Novosti quoted Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov, who commented, negatively, about “reports of alleged appearances by Russian submarines in the territorial waters”. So far, no official Finnish channel has identified the object as a Russian submarine. Sputnik (which opened their Finnish service earlier this week) drew parallels with the Swedish operation, where “Sweden accused Russia of operating a submarine in its waters, later found to be a Swedish vessel”. As far as I know, no Swedish official channel identified the submarine as Russian, and contrary to the article, the main incident was later confirmed to have been a midget submarine, while another reported sighting was downgraded to have been of a Swedish vessel.

The operation also highlights the differences in ASW-tactics between the Finnish and Swedish navies. While the Swedish navy employs a more traditional approach centred on vessels equipped with both sensors and weaponry, supported by helicopters and some underwater listening stations at strategic places, the Finnish tactic is based around the fact that our coastal waters are shallow and broken up by numerous islands and shoals. Thus, the underwater listening stations function like an early warning system, which locate intruders, and based on this information surface vessels can then be alerted to the scene to get a better picture of the situation, and if needed either chase away or destroy the intruder. Of note is also that the Finnish border guards were heavily involved in the operation, unlike their Swedish colleagues. Partly, this is due to the small number of surface vessels in the Finnish navy that are capable of an operation like this, a number that is set to diminish even more with the replacement of three mine ships and four Rauma-class FAC with an unknown number of MTA 2020-corvettes.

The Finnish operation seems to have been a text-book example of how the Finnish ASW-machinery is supposed to work, and based on open sources all involved rightfully deserves credit for this. Some media have praised the Finnish operation as an example of resolute action, in which the enemy was driven away by the use of arms, and put this into contrast with the more modest (or even haphazard) Swedish way of chasing submarines.

I do not share this view.

The Finnish navy did not “bomb” anybody, and never fired with the intent to kill or damage. Dropping alert charges is the closest one can come to communicating with a foreign underwater vessel, and the step to actually making an attack run with full-size depth charges is rather long. Also, while the concentrated effort of three (for Finland) large vessels is impressive, it is dwarfed by the Swedish armada of corvettes, mine hunters, helicopters, and marines with their landing crafts, that spent the better part of a week hunting through the archipelago. The Swedish helicopters might lack dipping sonar, but so does the Finnish ones, and unlike Sweden, Finland has no plans to acquire a heli-based ASW-capability. While the Finnish operation was well executed, the same can be said about the Swedish.

Svensk-Finsk ubåtsjakt: Finsk ubåtsjaktsförmåga

The following text is published in Swedish, as it is part of a post published in concert with two Swedish bloggers, dealing with the prospects of a joint Finnish-Swedish submarine hunting exercise/operation.

Gemensam Svensk – Finsk ubåtsjakt på svenskt vatten (Reservofficer)

 Under Folk och Försvars Rikskonferens i Sälen meddelade försvarsministrarna för Sverige och Finland att ett förslag om gemensam ubåtsjakt i svenska vatten kommer att läggas under året.
För att lyckas med det krävs interoperabilitet, att lednings- och sambandssystem pratar med varandra, delning av gemensam lägesbild, ett operativt ledningskoncept, ett svenskt HNS-koncept samt styrningar från respektive regering. Det sistnämnda lämnar vi helt därhän i detta inlägg, vi fokuserar på likheter, skillnader, utmaningar och möjligheter inom respektive lands ubåtsjaktsförmåga.
Av det skälet har två svenska bloggare och en finsk bloggare skrivit detta inlägg gemensamt. Förhoppningen är att sprida ljus över nuläge, behov och vägen framåt och därmed stimulera alla parter att göra sitt yttersta för att förverkliga politikernas beslut.
Reservofficer inleder med HNS (Host Nation Support), Klart Skepp skriver därefter ur svenskt perspektiv och inlägget avslutar med att Corporal Frisk ger ett finskt perspektiv.

HNS (Reservofficer)

Det svenska HNS-konceptet för gemensamma marina övningar med Finland är väl prövat. Finland och Sverige har också samarbetat vid markinsats där verkstaden i Mazar-e-sharif kanske är det bästa exemplet. Sverige och Finland har erfarenheter från tre nordiska stridsgrupper där det funnits anledning att testa svensk HNS. Vi har ju det bejublade exemplet med ammunitions- och vapentransporten under NBG 11 som ÖB berörde när vi ställde frågan om HNS på Folk och försvars rikskonferens.

Dock måste man konstatera att Sverige och Finland inte samverkat vid skarp marin insats ännu även om båda nationerna bidragit till operation ATALANTA i Aden-viken. Men däremot har det övats friskt tillsammans. En eloge bör gå till Amfibieregementet i Sverige och Nylands brigad i Finland där respektive kustjägarkompani, ömsom i Finland ömsom i Sverige, samövat under ett tiotal år.
De för ämnet mest relevanta övningarna torde vara SWEFINEX, Northern Coasts, SWENEX och BALTOPS. Det var under SWENEX del två hösten 2013 som marininspektören Jan Thörnqvist beskrev visionen om en svensk-finsk gemensam marin styrka för krishantering.
Sveriges förmåga till HNS för marina enheter prövades under 2014 främst under övningen Northern Coasts. Under den övningen genomfördes en omfattande HNS-verksamhet med erfarenhetsvärden som har stor betydelse för ett mer improviserat handlande som en ubåtsjakt kan ställa krav på. Bl a upprättades en framskjuten logistikbas (FLS) genom att ta till vara en nedlagd industrianläggning som med snabba och relativt små anpassningar kunde fungera som krigsbas för ett flertal marina förband och understödjande förband. (Vi ger inga detaljer om var och hur).
Även övningen BALTOPS är intressant ur svensk HNS-synpunkt eftersom övningen inleddes i Karlskrona i början på juni förra året. Nu kanske inte Karlskrona är något bra exempel eftersom Marinbasen ligger där. Det finns ingen bättre plats i Sverige att ta emot utländska flottstyrkor och ombesörja HNS på ett bra sätt. Men planering och genomförande av logistik, utredning av ekonomiska och juridiska förhållanden som kännetecknar allt HNS-arbete fick man ta höjd för så övningen hade sitt syfte, den saken är klar.
Sammantaget kan man säga att de svenska erfarenheterna av att ge HNS till finska förband är ganska god. Svensk HNS-förmåga i samband med övningar planerade med lång framförhållning är mycket god. Däremot är HNS-förmågan i Sverige aldrig prövat i skarp insats. Sverige har i viss mån bristande förmåga att klara HNS vid kortare framförhållning. Slutsatsen är att om Sverige skall klara att lämna HNS till finska marina styrkor – eller till vilka förband som helst – som skall hjälpa oss vid en skarp insats så måste detta övas och vi måste börja öva som ryssarna – ej föranmälda beredskapsövningar – s.k. snap drills. Det räcker dock inte – HNS avtal måste upprättas i fredstid, alltså det som är målet med det MOU som Sverige och Finland skrev med NATO i september.
När det gäller just Finland så är det rimligt att teckna avtal hela vägen ner till JIA (Joint Implementation Agreement) mot bakgrund av erfarenhetsvärden från ovan nämnda övningar. Det är faktiskt sannolikt ett krav i kombination med ovan nämnda oannonserade beredskapsövningar. Annars är risken stor att dyrbara timmar i insatsens initiala skede går förlorade.

Svenskt perspektiv (Klart Skepp):

Foto: PONTUS LUNDAHL / TT

Bakgrund svensk-finska marina relationer (post murens fall)

Sverige och Finland är ju – vad en amerikan skulle säga – “joined at the hip” därom råder naturligtvis inga tvivel. Avseende marinsamverkan så har vi i modern tid (här definierat som post murens fall) genomfört bi- och multilaterala övningar/operationer tillsammans.

För att nämna några: Lovisa, SWEFINEX, BALTOPS, Northern Coast samt minröjningsoperationer typ Open Spirit (?). Under bilaterala övningar har normalt sett ett gemensamt interim-sambandssystem etablerats. Den svensk-finska relationen och utbytet på förbandsnivå är mycket god.

På amfibiesidan har den svenska amfibiekåren samövat med den finska sedan slutet av 90-talet och gemensamt har man satt upp en styrka, tidigare benämnd “ATU” (Amphibious Task Unit) eller “SFATU” (Swedish Finnish ATU) tillsammans med Nylands brigad (det finska förbandet i huvudsak svenskspråkigt, men med kommandospråk finska – i sin nationella roll). Efter deklaration av den förra svenska försvarsministern, Karin Enström, och hennes finske motsvarighet, Carl Haglund, pekades specifikt amfbieförbandens samarbete ut som ett fördjupningsområde.

Sedan början 2000 har Sverige och Finland samverkat runt sjölägesbild i ett system benämnt SUCFIS som innebär att vi kan dela lägesbild. Systemet möjliggör att dela hela- eller valda delar av informationen då det finns diverse säkerhetslösningar inbyggda i systemet. SUFIS utökades för övrigt 2008 till att omfatta samtliga länder runt Östersjön utom Ryssland och går då under namnet SUCBAS. Jag uppfattar dock att det svensk-finska systemet möjliggör ett intimare samarbete än SUCBAS.

Scenario och avgränsningar

I fortsättningen utgår vi ifrån dagens situation med befintliga medel istället för att tillåta oss några utsvävningar och allmänna fantasier om möjlig tillförd utrustning. Baserat på detta betraktar vi höstens “underrättelseoperation” benämnd “Örnen” som ett scenario att basera analysen på vad ett svensk-finskt samarbete skulle kunna tillföra i ekvationen.
Nedanstående ses endast möjligt att teoretiskt gälla under fred. I en direkt kris-/krigssituation kommer andra överväganden att ligga till grund för eventuella samarbeten.

Jag ska direkt deklarera att jag inte har någon färsk uppdatering på finska ubåtsjaktresurser. Vad jag nämner nedan är framgooglat på nätet. Felaktigheter förekommer med all säkerhet och ingen vikt har lagts vid att faktakolla alla detaljer och möjliga skeenden.

Syftet är att översiktligt göra en ansats och diskutera runt denna. Syftet är inte att fastna i någo pre-pubertal orgie i taktiska/tekniska detaljer.

Följande enheter anser jag kan utgöra ett underlag att involvera i en svensk ubåtsjakt inomskärs. 

Hämeenmaa MCM: 20 kn, 1300 ton, Besättning (?) Sonar: Simrad SS 304 samt möjligen förmåga att ta ombord ST2400 VDS. Vapen: AU-raket, Sjunkbomber


Foto: Finska försvarsmakten

4 x Hamina FAC:  32 kn, 270 ton, släpsonar (Simrad) samt en passiv towed array, 29 (värnpliktiga/underbefäl) + 5 (officerare). Ledningssystem från EADS. IR-spanare samt elektrooptiakt sikte. Lämpliga vapen?

4 x Rauma FAC: 30 kn, 218 ton, 24 (vpl/ubef) + 5 (Off). Ny uppgraderad VDS, Ledningssystem från Saab 9LV Mk4 samt sikte med TV/IR. Vapen 4 st AU-granatkastare

2 x Katanpää MCM (1 till under leverans 2014 (?)): 13 kn, ca 700 ton, 36 (vpl/ubef) + 6 (off) Diverse obemannade farkoster: Kongsberg HUGIN AUV, Kongsberg REMUS 100 AUV, Saab Underwater Systems Double Eagle Mark II ROV, Atlas Elektronik SeaFox
Sonarer: Kongsberg EM-710 RD multibeam echosounder Kongsberg TOPAS echosounder Klein Associates Klein 5500 towed side-scanning sonar Kongsberg HiPAP underwater positioning system

36 st Jurmo Stridsbåtar.
Jag nämner bara dessa här då de skulle kunna användas, men jag är tveksam till att stridsvärdet är särskilt högt efter en ombasering på egen köl över ett potentiellt stormigt hav där både båtar och människor går sönder. Bättre vore att använda svenska stridsbåtar med en mixad besättning där de finska soldaterna/sjömännen flygs in.

(Kustjägare under landstigning. Ref James Mashiri)

Kustbrigaden: Sjöspanare med tekniska system så som radar, eletrooptisk materiel för spaning

Kommande är att Finnarna håller på att få leverans av nya båtar med fjärrstyrda vapenstationer. Undertecknad vet däremot inte om finnarnas version är utrustad med IR, men är den det kan det vara intressant då spanings- och dokumentationsmöjligheten ökar.

Anm.) HMS (Hull Mounted Sonar) VDS (Variable Depth Sonar – populärt kallad “fisk” som kan sänkas upp och ned igenom diverse salt- och temperaturskikt).

Den finska gränsbevakningen har tillgång till två stycken Dornier DO-228 utrustade med radar och elektro-optik. Jag bedömer att det är bättre att svenska kustbevakningen sätter in ett-två av sina plan i Sverige samt att de finska planen utökar sina spaningsområden/intensiferar sina flygningar för att avlasta de svenska enheterna.

Jag kan inte finna på några ubåtsjakthelikoptrar i den finska uppställningen.

Kriterier för förslag till urval från ovan nämnda underlag består av

Stridsekonomi/uthållighet.

Vi vet redan att en ubåtsjakt denna kaliber kräver en hel del personella och materiella resurser. Den finska bemanningen av fartyg och förband med värnpliktiga kan göra att uthålligheten kan öka och att större yttäckning kan nås. Antagandet bygger på att finsk lag medger beordring av värnpliktiga till denna typ av insats. Tveksamt om uthålligheten är en knäckfråga med tanke på en “besökares” förmodade tid i området (se tid nedan). Kopplat mot hur snabbt inkallelse för finska enheter kan ske så kostar en hel del att ha nödvändig beredskap (jourtillägg osv).

Tid till insats
(inkallande – embarkering- ombasering – debarkering och gruppering – påbörjande av att lösa uppgift)

Vi kan nog inte räkna med att tiden mellan en “besökares” INFIL till EXFIL är mycket längre än 3-7 dagar. Kan EXFIL  hindras genom instängning i lämpligt område kan naturligtvis tiden förlängas. Antagandet kräver att INFIL upptäcks relativt omgående om vi ska hinna med i OODA-loopen. Kan man via fasta finska system lyckas få en tidig förvarning ger det en större möjlighet att få till en intercept precis vid INFIL, men det kräver sannolikt passage från finska viken och inte från Kaliningrad/Baltijsk (där Marina Spetsnaz OMRP 561 och ubåtsflottan är utgångsgrupperad).

Interoperabilitet

Det är naturligtvis en fördel om formatet/länkarna på stridsledningen är av samma typ. Att Rauma har ett Saab-ledningssystem kan underlätta då i bästa fall mer handlar om en kryptofråga för att lösa interoperabiliteten. Att gå via Länk 16 möjligt, men riskerar att kanske fördröja en del samt att funktionaliteten nedgår.  Jag är tyvärr dåligt uppdaterad på detaljer i denna fråga.

Interoperabilitet är ju inte bara en teknikfrågor utan i högsta grad en kultur och språkfråga. Att Nylands brigad ingår ses som en självklarhet. Övrig interoperabilitet t.ex. inom logistik (förnödenhetsförsörjning, HNS, sjukvård osv) bör nog baseras på en Nato-struktur som vid det här laget bör vara ordentligt samövad.

Bibehållandet av en nationell gard

Det är varken önskvärt eller sannolikt att tro att finnarna vill lämna sin egen bakgård tom för att stötta en svensk ubåtsjaktoperation. Av denna anledning har ett begränsat antal finska enheter av de ovan nämnda valts för att medge en realistisk möjlighet att hantera nationellt uppkomna situationer.

Ev denna orsak är t.ex. inte Hämeenmaa och Hamina utvalda. De skulle – om en analys från finsk sida så medger – också kunna användas.

Förslag som följer

3-4 st Rauma

Motivering:

Relativt små och grundgående enheter (1,5 m) med Saab-ledningssystem. Dessutom TV/IR-sikte samt AU-granater. Vapen kan i och för sig orsaka en del juridiska komplikationer. Vad händer om ett finskt statsfartyg skadar eller sänker ett främmande statsfartyg på svenskt inre vatten? Detta är nog en viktig fråga att belysa om man ser framför sig att göra en vapeninsats. Därför ser jag att uppgiften i första hand handlar om att dokumentera kränkning.

Samma enheter medför mindre jobb med reservdelar, kopplingar, integrationsarbete osv.

Uppgift: 

Delta i ubåtsjakt inomskärs. Tyvärr har Rauma ingen HMS.

1-2 Katanpää

En mycket kompetent plattform som det verkar med en hel del sensorsystem. Hennes uppgift skulle vara att dels bevaka utlopp, men också att utgöra en enhet som deltar vid sökning i en situation med instängd ubåt. Hennes autonoma undervattensfarkoster och sonar-suite är sannolikt till stor nytta. Ett överslag säger att hon teoretiskt sett skulle kunna vara på plats i Stockholmsområdet på ca 24 timmar.

Enheter från Nylands brigad

  • Ekenäs Kustbataljons 2. Kustkompaniet för signalister, båtförare/besättningar och underhållsmän
  • Vasa kustjägarbataljons Kustjägarbataljon

Eventuellt deltager de som mixade besättningar i svenska stridsbåtar (obs kommandodspråk är finska – föreslår att finska besättningar övar på svenska båtar och vice versa) samt grupperar för fast spaning. Beredduppgift genomföra sökoperationer på öar osv. I en situation där en ubåt har spärrats in i ett – förhoppningsvis – geografiskt avgränsat område är uppgiften att upptäcka/hindra EXFIL till fots. Förnödenhetsförsöjning och avlösning ställer krav med så mycket folk ute i operationsområdet. Det är möjligt att amfibiebataljonens underhållsresurser löser ut detta utan tillförande av enheter utifrån. Logistiken bör rimligtvis inte vara allt för tung i det beskrivna scenariot.

Enheter från den nybildade Kustbrigaden (tidigare Finska vikens marinkommando)

Sjöövervakare med sin materiel i form av radarer och elektrooptiska sensorer. Oklart om dessa är portabla eller monterade i båtar/fordon. Om det senare gäller kan denna materiel inte ses som aktuell att disponera.

Ur ett kostnadsperspektiv är det önskvärt att nyttja en lejonpart av de finska beväringarna (jo, jag tror finnarna använder denna benämning på sina värnpliktiga) – om man, från finsk sida, ursäktar detta svenska snyltresonemang förstås.

Amfibieenheten är de som snabbast skulle kunna vara på plats om man har helikoptrar/transportflygplan i en någorlunda hög beredskap. Det bör noteras att endast de enheter som ingår i SFATU är helikopterutbildade. Kanske måste transportplan därför användas för delar av de ingående komponenterna.

Övriga enheter/funktioner

SUCFIS utgör naturligtvis fortsatt en gemensam sjöövervaknings. Möjligen kan arbetet med att detaljera ytläget stöttas av den finska sidan.

Ett spelat scenario kallat “Örnen 2” för att testa tider och logik

Foto: TT


Notera att skeendena nedan inte är analyserade på djupet. Det finns garanterat många operativa-, taktiska- och tekniska felaktigheter. Syfte är som sagt att testa lite tider och händelser ur en högre aspekt. Vidare är scenariot sett ur ett “best case”-alternativ. Logistiska och beslutsmässiga friktioner har inte beaktats. 

D1 – Starka indikationer som påvisar främmande undervattensaktivitet föranleder den svenska militära ledningen att hemställa hos politikerna om ett utlösande av det finska alternativet till stöd. Beslutet tar ett dygn innan det landar in hos den finske försvarsministern som redan fått informationen underhand via diplomatiska kanaler. Den finske försvarsministern är inte överraskad då man i sina fasta system har noterat en ökad aktivitet över tid.

D2 – Den finska försvarsmakten börjar kalla in nyckelbesättningar till fartyg och soldater ur Kustbrigaden samt Nylands brigad. Fartygen är bunkrade och korrekt RU (reglementerad utrustning) finns ombord. Rauma hade tack och lov inte prioriterat ordinarie robotlast på 6 robotar och var konfigurerade för ubåtsjakt. Listor för förnödenhetskomplettering skicka i förväg till det svenska HNS-stödet. Transporthelikoptrar/transportflyg (både svenska och finska – utifrån tillgång och lämplig utgångsgruppering) anländer för att ta ombord trupp enheter ur Kustbrigaden och Nylands brigad.

D3 – De första fartygen har kastat loss med sina nyckelbesättningar för omgruppering till Stockholm. Resterande besättning flygs in antingen reguljärt eller med militär transport.

Under natten till D3 har de första enheterna ur Kustbrigaden och Nylands brigad debarkerat på Berga. Indelning och gruppering till uppgift tilldelas innan enheterna fördelas ut på båtar och öar för rörlig/fast spaning i operationsområdet. Om det är möjligt läggs minsystem M9 (beslut har funnits att avveckla detta under 2014) ut i mindre sund för att förstärka spaningen. Helikoptrar och G-båtar används för att “hoppa bock” med spaningsgrupperna.

Över huvudena på de nyanlända soldaterna cirklar då och då den svenska kustbevakningens flygplan med uppgift att försöka upptäcka möjliga värmesignaturer med sina EO-sensorer. Allokeringen till denna uppgift har varit möjlig då den finska gränsbevakningen har erbjudit sig att utöka sina spaningsrutter.

På kvällen D3 anländer de första Rauma-robotbåtarna till operationsområdet där besättningarna embarkerar. Under på morgontimmarna D4 börjar fartygens stridsledningar att bli operativa där rätt kryptonycklar och frekvensplaner har  erhållits och matats in i systemen. System- och sambandskontroller genomförs kryptomaskinerna blinkar ilsket blått i takt med att måldata och ordar fyller etern.

På morgonen D4 anmäler sig de finska enheterna som operativa till styrkechefen.

Frågan är nu om man ska dela in de finska fartygen i en egen Task unit eller om de ska blandas för att kunna använda systemens olika frekvenser och karakteristik på ett bättre sätt. Det sistnämnda väljs och korvetterna bäddas in med de svenska enheterna.

D4 – På morgonen har även två Katanpää anlänt och dirigeras till att bevaka var sitt utlopp i den södra delen av skärgården. Väl på plats sätter de i sina obemannade undervattensfarkoster och börjar sökning i närområdet, samtidigt som de effektivt spärrar av sina tilldelade utlopp.

De tillförda enheterna medger nu tillräcklig numerär för att öka kvalitén i bevakning av alternativa utlopp för EXFIL. Styrkechefen vågar sig på att sätta igång ett drev från norr med en Visby- och en Raumakorvett De senare med den unika förmågan, ur svenska ögon sett, att kunna avge verkanseld med sina AU-granater. Många ögon finns nu utplacerade på land och i stridsbåtar för att observera aktivitet. Båtar med förnödenheter till de olika grupperna på land och i båtarna pilar av och an för att leverera varm mat och reservdelar till de olika grupperna.

D5-D7 – En lång period av inaktivitet med få till inga indikationer. Inkräktaren bedöms ligga och trycka och enheterna genomsöker metodiskt området. Skärpt bevakning har beordrats för att detektera eller hindra EXFIL till fots.

Under denna tidsperiod kommer rapporter in om en ubåtsindikation vid Sandhamn i mellanskärgården. Styrkechefen väljer att endast detachera ett fåtal enheter till området i syfte att kunna bibehålla en effektiv inringning. En svensk ubåts spaningsruta justeras något för att möta situationen.

D8 – Plötsligt får en minjakt kontakt med en “möjlig ubåt” som senare kan klassas upp som “konstaterad ubåt”. Minakten lyckas hålla kontakten och samtliga två Rauma leds in av Visby som också lyckas få kontakt med ekot. De bägge Raumafartygen leds in och levererar var sin full salva med AU-granater som bedöms ligga korrekt över målet. Två detonationer registreras av såväl sonarsystem- som människor ombord på de omgivande fartygen/båtarna. Luftuppkok och olja observeras av enheterna på ytan.

När vattnet lugnat ned sig skickar minjakten ned sin obemannade farkost och får direkt kontakt med ett till synes intakt ubåtsskrov med två femkronestora hål i – ett i fören och ett akter om tornet. Ubåten klassificeras senare av dykare som en  ubåt av typen Projekt 865 Piranja. Bägge sidotuberna är tomma och luckorna är öppna. En av två Proton-dykfarkoster kan inte återfinnas….

….. Avslutningen kan ses vara lite dramatisk, men syftet är att glida över i en politisk och juridisk frågeställning. Vad gäller om en finsk enhet sänker eller skadar ett utländskt statsfartyg på svenskt inre vatten? Stödjer svensk lag ett sådant agerande? Vad säger finsk lag? Vem är ansvarig? Vad måste göras för att omhänderta ett sådant scenario.

Möjligheter

  • Möjlighet att få till en ökad numerär som medger en förbättring (om än inte tillräcklig)
  • Samverkan medger en möjlighet till reduktion av fasta kostnader relativt den förmågeökning som kan erhållas i fredstid. Ett krigs/konfliktscenario kan komma att se helt annorlunda ut.

Frågeställningar

  • Går det att tillräckligt snabbt samla ihop en ubåtsjaktstyrka?
    Vilka avtal, strukturer och mandat måste finnas på plats?
  • Lagstiftning – både nationell och internationell (t.ex. folkrätt) krävs.
    Finland har redan påbörjat sitt arbete med detta och en lagändring förväntas kunna gå igenom 2015/2016 som medger finsk hjälp på svenskt territorium.
  • Vilken ROE ska gälla? Mandat för verkanseld?

Konklusion

    • Den typ av beredskap som krävs för att hinna agera och samla ihop styrkorna kommer att vara kostnadsdrivande. Det kommer att kosta, men vi kan snabbt läcktäta inom tappad numerär

  • Speed is of essence!
  • Den finske försvarsministern, Carl Haglund, har klart och tydligt deklarerat att man måste se på ett samarbetet på ett nyktert sätt.

    Det får inte bli en politisk illusion om att ett starkt eget försvar inte behöver prioriteras.

    Till syven och sist måste bägge nationerna planera och agera som om att man stod ensam.

    • Samarbetet gäller endast under fredstid (ref Carl Haglund)
    • Diversifiering i teknik kan utgöra en styrka
    • Obemannade system (liknande de ombord på fartyg av Katanpää-klass) borde utredas för inköp av svenska marinen.
    • Sambands- och ledningssystem behöver vara naturligtvis vara interoperabla

      (utmaning ur t.ex. ett svenskt LOU-perspektiv?).

  • Det är sannolikt vettigt att använda sig av lämpliga Nato-reglementen som vi

    nu har lång erfarenhet ifrån på bägge sidor

  • En analys över juridiska och politiska aspekter måste genomföras
  • Utbilda finska båtförare på svenska stridsbåtar och vice versa
  • Öva  Öva  Öva!

Är det möjligt? Jag bedömer att frågan är med “Ja” besvarad (om viljan finns)

Finsk ubåtsjaktsförmåga (Corporal Frisk)

Ubåtsjakt har alltid varit en relativt lågt prioriterad förmåga för den finska Marinen. Orsaken är enkel, majoriteten av finska vattenområden är helt enkelt olämpliga för konventionella ubåtar. Finska Viken och Skärgårdshavet består av ett gytter av större och mindre öar och skär, och de farleder som finns är ofta både grunda och svårnavigerade. Medeldjupet i Finska Viken är under 25 meter, och belysande är det faktum att under Andra Världskriget löstes problemet med Sovjetiska ubåtar genom den till synes primitiva åtgärden att två stålnät med kodnamnet Walross spändes tvärs över viken mellan estniska Nargö och finska Porkala Udd. Dessa förhindrade effektivt all fientlig ubåtsverksamhet under seglingssäsongerna 1943 och 1944. Situationen i Bottenhavet är något bättre ur kränkande nations synvinkel, men där saknas mål med samma strategiska värde som de som hittas längs sydkusten, och för att komma dit krävs att man passerar genom Skärgårdshavet.

Åbolands skärgård illustrerar de trånga farvatten som är karakteristiska för stora delar av den finska sydkusten. Källa: Finlex 15.03.2010 TRAFI/7106/03.04.01.00/2010 / Sjöfartsverkets sjökort
Åbolands skärgård illustrerar de trånga farvatten som är karakteristiska för stora delar av den finska sydkusten. Källa: Finlex 15.03.2010 TRAFI/7106/03.04.01.00/2010 / Sjöfartsverkets sjökort

Med det sagt är undervattensoperationer inne på finskt vatten, särskilt i de fall moderna miniubåtar används, ingen omöjlighet, varför också Marinens ubåtsjaktförmåga fått ökad prioritet. Grunden i den finska ubåtsjaktförmågan är ett nätverk av fasta sensorer. Deras antal, prestanda, och exakta placeringar hör till Marinens bäst bevarade hemligheter (i varje fall för de länder som inte genomfört undervattenskränkningar och kartlagt dessa), men i en intervju under hösten beskrev kommodor Markus Aarnio i egenskap av chef för Finska Vikens Marinkommando övervakningskapaciteten som mycket god: ”De finns ett begränsat antal ställen i vår skärgård där en ubåt kan ta sig fram, vi vet var dessa ställen är. Där har vi övervakning i gång 24 timmar i dygnet sju dagar i veckan, både över och under ytan.”

Specifikt handlar det om lyssnarkedjor eller –stationer under ytan, medan farkoster i ytläge dessutom får räkna med radar och elektrooptiska sensorer. I de fall någon av stationerna noterar något utöver det vanliga sänds, för att citera kommodor Aarnios, ”någon enhet” till platsen för att undersöka saken.

Vilka är då dessa enheter? I Marinen hittas framförallt fyra klasser som har den kvalificerade sonarutrustning som krävs för att lokalisera ubåtar.

MHC Katanpää under gång. Källa: Wikimedia Commons/MKFI

Katanpää-klassen består av tre minjaktfartyg. Dessa håller som bäst på att tas i bruk, och utgör de kanske mest kvalificerade enheterna i hela Östersjön när det gäller att hitta föremål under vattnet. De aktive sensorerna håller en mycket klass, och inbegriper både skrovmonterade- och släpsonarer. Bland dessa märks flerstrålelodet Atlas HMS-12M, som även hittas på svenska Kosterklass minjaktsfartyg. Katanpää-klassens största nackdel är avsaknandet av passiv sonar och alla former av beväpning förutom en Bofors allmålspjäs och tunga kulsprutor. Fartygen är i dagsläget inte slutligt förklarade operativa, en process som planeras för senare i år.

Hamina-klassens robotbåt Tornio (81). Källa: Wikimedia Commons/MKFI
Rauma-klassens robotbåt Porvoo (72) utan sina sjömålsrobotar. Källa: Wikimedia Commons

Den finska Marinens skarpa spets består av två klasser om vardera fyra robotbåtar, Rauma-klassen levererad 1990-92 och den nyare Hamina-klassen levererad 1998-2006. Rauma-klassen genomgick en halvtidsmodifiering som blev klar 2013, vilken avsevärt har höjt dess ubåtsjaktförmåga. Rauma-klassen har möjlighet att utrustas med Kongsbergs ST2400 VDS släpsonar (även känd som Simrad Subsea Toadfish). Det är en avancerad sonar som kan arbeta både passivt och aktivt, och är specialutvecklad för användning i grunda vatten och inomskärs. Nackdelen är att monteringen förhindrar användandet av de aktre sjömålsrobotarna på Rauma-klassen, vilket reducerar robotbeväpningen med hälften. Som alternativ till släpsonarn kan också Finnyards SONAC-PTA passiv släpsonar monteras, med samma begräsningar som för ST2400 VDS. SONAC-PTA består av 24 hydrofoner monterade på en 78 meter lång sensor, som kan släpas upp till 600 meter efter båten. Åtminstone två SONAC-PTA har anskaffats till Marinen, främst för användning ombord på Rauma-klassen.

Edit 17.1.2015 13:40 (GMT+2):

Hamina-klassen projekterades med ubåtsjaktförmåga motsvarande Raumas, men på grund av ekonomiska orsaker ströks alla ubåtsjaktvapen förutom sjunkbomber.

Hämeenmaa-klassens minfartyg Uusimaa (05). Källa: Wikimedia Commons/MKFI

De två Hämeenmaa-klassens minskepp utgör numera Marinens tyngsta enheter, och är också utrustade med Simrad SS 304 (Sonar 191 i svenska Marinen), vilket ger dem en begränsad ubåtsjaktförmåga. Enligt vissa källor är de förberedda för montering av ST2400 VDS, men det taktiska värdet i att jaga ubåtar med dessa relativt stora enheter får anses begränsat.

Ytterligare en mer eller mindre unik aspekt för den finska Marinen är att ifall en ubåt skall bekämpas, så görs det i första hand med hjälp av antiubåtsgranat- och raketkastare. Orsaken till detta är delvis historisk, då Parisfreden 1948 förbjöd användandet av torpeder. Finland har unilateralt sagt upp begränsningarna 1990 efter att först ha informerat Sovjet och Storbritannien, som inte kom med några anmärkningar, men än så länge har torpeder inte anskaffats. Ubåtsjakttorpeder var aktuella för Rauma-klassen i samband med halvtidsmodifieringen, men ströks på grund av budgetskäl. Däremot ryktas det att den projekterade MTA2020-klassen kommer att utrustas med torpeder.

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Rauma-klassens huvudbeväpning är Saabs Elma LLS.920, med nio avfyrningsklara granater per pjäs. Två LLS.920 kan monteras. Hämeenmaa förlitar sig i sin tur på den Sovjetiska/Ryska RBU-1200 raketkastaren, och har möjlighet att föra två kastare per fartyg, med fem raketer per kastare färdiga för avfyrning. Båda klasserna kan också föra ett begränsat antal sjunkbomber. Katanpää-klassen saknar som nämnts helt möjlighet att bekämpa mål under vattenytan.

Gränsbevaningens nyaste fartyg, Turva, under provkörning. Källa: Gränsbevakningen

Edit 17.1.2015 13:40 (GMT+2):

Förutom Marinen har Gränsbevakningen ett antal fartyg som kan delta i ubåtsjaktsoperationer. Dessa inkluderar nybygget Turva, vilken som bäst håller på att tas i bruk, samt de äldre Merikarhu, Tursas och Uisko. Dessa har varierande sensorutrustning, och kan föra sjunkbomber i krigstid. En operativ fördel de har är att de i motsats till Marinens fartyg fritt kan uppträda i Åländska farvatten.

Som synes är de finska enheterna som kan jaga ubåtar en brokig skara både vad gäller förmåga, ålder och beväpning. Vissa nyckelsystem saknas helt, inklusive helikoptrar med ubåtsjaktförmåga och ubåtsjakttorpeder. Ett stort förmågelyft är att vänta när MTA2020 kommer att ersätta Hämeenmaa- och Rauma-klassen i mitten av nästa decennium, även om antalet skrov förväntas minska. Trots det får de nuvarande enheterna anses ge en ”tillräcklig” ubåtsjaktförmåga för att skydda finska vatten mot dagens relativt lilla hotbild.

Det stora problemet är istället bristen på realistiska övningar.

Finland saknar som bekant helt ubåtar, både konventionella- och miniubåtar. Detta gör realistiska ubåtsjaktövningar mycket sällsynta, vilket naturligtvis har en avgörande effekt på fartygsbesättningarnas förmåga att effektivt använda till buds stående medel för att lokalisera och bekämpa fientlig undervattensverksamhet. Ur den synvinkeln är möjligheten att öva tillsammans med de erkänt duktiga svenska ubåtsjägarna mot några av de modernaste konventionella ubåtar som finns en mycket värdefull erfarenhet.

Where are the Finnish Submarines?

Where are the Finnish Submarines?

Submarines have naturally been something of a hot topic in Sweden during the last year, with Saab buying ThyssenKrupp’s Swedish submarine division, the design stage of the new A26 submarine well under way, and last but not least, the incursion by a foreign midget submarine deep into Swedish waters. During all of this, the related question as to why Finland doesn’t operate submarines has been raised more than once.

The Finnish Submarine Force that Was

The first submarines that almost served in the Finnish Navy were a number of ex-Russian AG-class (Holland) submarines that had been scuttled when the Imperial Russian Navy retreated from Finnish ports in 1918. There were plans to return one or two of these to service, but the cash-strapped navy of the interwar years found the cost of the associated works to be too big, and as such the project was abandoned.

Instead a number of new-built submarines were acquired during the years leading up to the Second World War. This small but potent force consisted of three Vetehinen-class (500 t) boats, as well as the single-ships Saukko (114 t) and Vesikko (254 t). Of these, Saukko has the distinction of being the only military submarine purpose built for service in a lake (although in the end it was never used as such), while Vesikko was the prototype for the Kriegsmarine’s wartime Type II-class. Vesikko is the only one remaining of these, as well as being the sole survivor of all 51 Type II’s built.

The Finnish submarine service that was: light submarine Vesikko surfacing sometime during the war years. Source: SA-kuva
The Finnish submarine service that was: light submarine Vesikko surfacing sometime during the war years. Source: SA-kuva

With the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 came restrictions regarding what kinds of “offensive weaponry” Finland was allowed to operate, and Article 17 states that “Finland shall not possess, construct or experiment with any […] torpedoes capable of being manned, submarines or other submersible craft, motor torpedo boats, or specialised types of assault craft.” The demands of the treaty were loosened over time, with e.g. “defensive missiles” being allowed in the 60’s when Finland bought the first batch of MiG-21F fighters with associated air-to-air missiles from the Soviet Union. Finally, after the reunification of Germany, Finland in 1990 unilaterally took the decision that the restrictions of the treaty did no longer apply (with the nuclear weapons ban being the sole exception, as Finland is a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty). Thus, the possibility of operating submarines was again open for the Finnish Navy.

A New Generation of Submariners?

The question about whether or not to get submarines was a hot topic during the 90’s, especially as Sweden offered a number of older submarines cheap. These would probably have been of the Sjöormen-class, which in the end were instead sold to Singapore as the Challenger-class in 1997. Although the Sjöormen-class was a 60’s design, they were very advanced for their day, which, together with the extensive half-life modification carried out before the transfer, makes them viable even today. The Singaporean Navy was apparently happy with the arrangement, as they in a similar deal bought two retired Västergötland-class submarines in 2005, which were accepted into service as the Archer-class in 2011 and 2013.

The Finnish submarine service that could have been: R.S.S. Chieftain (ex-HMS Sjöhunden II) of the Sjöormen/Challenger-class in Singaporean service in 2007. Souce: Wikimedia Commons/Erik Sevilla Estrada

Still, while the submarines themselves would have been cheap (a relative term when discussing submarines), the creation of a submarine service wouldn’t. The new training and basing facilities, a whole new logistics chain, as well as the day-to-day operating costs of running a fleet of three to four submarines, was deemed prohibitively expensive, and the rebirth of the Finnish submarine service was called off. As the basic premises have not changed since the late 90’s, the question has not been brought up again since.

The discussion whether this was the right decision or not pops up from time to time, but with the current budget an expansion in the number of naval vessels seems unlikely. On the contrary, with the arrival of the MTA 2020, the number of surface combatants is to be reduced. With the current funding of the navy, getting submarines would mean retiring at least an equal number of major vessels, corresponding to e.g. all four Hamina fast attack craft. Coupled with the upcoming decrease in the number of hulls with the introduction of the MTA 2020, this would mean slicing the number of surface combat vessels of the navy to half of its current level.

The Capabilities

As I noted in an earlier post, the Finnish Navy should be able to make certain that the NW corner of the Baltic Sea is safe for friendly merchant shipping, but from there on out to the North Sea, we would have to rely on friendly states (including at least Sweden and Denmark, and to a lesser extent, Norway, Germany, and Poland). In this planned area of operations, submarines are of a somewhat limited value, due to the shallow waters and cluttered archipelagoes that dominate both the Gulf of Finland and the Archipelago Sea. Here, the current combination of mine fields and FAC’s capable of countering enemy air and sea threats provides a good basis upon which to build a layered defence together with supporting ground and air units.

In such a scenario, where the main mission of the wartime fleet is to escort own merchant shipping to Swedish waters, as well as to counter enemy naval movements trying to enter our waters, a Finnish submarine fleet would in my opinion be of secondary value. Tactically, the submarines would be able to intercept, shadow, and attack enemy warships heading for our shores while they are further offshore than what would be the case with the FAC’s. Their presence would also dictate that the enemy make adjustments to meet the threat, i.e. deploy anti-submarine ships and air assets to protect own units. Still, it is hard to justify the acquisition of submarines from a purely tactical perspective if the trade-off is an equal number of surface units that could also offer protection from airborne threats.

The largest benefits of a submarine force would instead come in the strategic field, where modern AIP submarines could loiter in the southern/central parts of the Baltic Sea, and as such provide early warning of enemy sorties, gather intelligence, and even insert special forces if that was deemed necessary.

The Finnish submarine service that could be: Next-generation Swedish submarine of the Kockums A26-class. Source: Saab/Kockums Naval Solutions.

There is no denying that the acquisition of three modern submarines would significantly increase the intelligence gathering capabilities not only of the Finnish Navy, but of the Defence Forces and the Finnish intelligence community as a whole. They would also provide new capabilities in taking the battle closer to the enemy’s home ports, and as such giving greater defensive depth in the maritime scene as a whole. Currently, the Swedish A26 or the slightly smaller German/Italian Type 212 are the obvious candidates.

As an indicator of the price level, for the current Italian program of four Type 212/Todaro submarines a total project cost of 1.9 billion Euros is given, with a unit cost of roughly 350 million Euros per boat. While the total project cost include a certain amount of research and development that wouldn’t be included in an export order, the Italian Navy has a long tradition of operating submarines, and as such the investments in basing/logistics/training are considerably smaller compared to those needed if Finland was to acquire a handful of submarines. With the current situation, this cost is far too large for the Defence Forces to bear, let alone the Navy in itself. Unless they were to form part of a (very unlikely) vast multi-billion increase in the defence budget, which would also cover a number of more pressing deficits/ageing materials, I do not believe that submarines have a place in the Finnish Navy.

Revisting Red October – Confirmed Midget Submarine

The events surrounding the Red October-incident took a rather surprising turn this week, with the Swedish Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Commander-in-Chief holding a press conference, in which they declared that the analysis of the information collected by both the Swedish Defence Forces as well as civilians during the intelligence operation in the archipelago of Stockholm revealed that there indeed had been at least one foreign military midget submarine deep inside Swedish territorial waters.

Fresh tracks left by the submarine in the bottom. Source: Försvarsmakten.se
Fresh tracks left by the submarine in the bottom. Source: Försvarsmakten.se

When saying that this came as a surprise to me (but not to some others), what I felt was surprising was not that there had been an incursion, but that the Swedish Defence Forces had manage to secure the amount of evidence that they actually would go out and call it confirmed. As had been seen during the operation itself, the phrasing used in discussing the foreign underwater activity is very strict, with no officials at any time during the operation going so far as to confirm the existence of any kind of underwater activity. The language used by both the Prime Minister as well as the CinC, makes it very clear that this is an extremely serious incident. In a rather long and winding way, the Prime Minister went as far as to:

“…remind [the ones behind the incursion] that the Defence Forces have all the authority needed, so that they in a critical situation can prevent a foreign vessel from escaping, as a last resort with military use of force.”

Whole speech by Prime Minister Löfven is found here. Of interest is that Miljöpartiet, the other party in the current Swedish government, as far as I have found have not in any way commented on this new information so far.

The rules of engagement and general conduct of the Defence Forces in the case of violations of Swedish territory is found in regulation 1982:756: Förordning om Försvarsmaktens ingripanden vid kränkningar av Sveriges territorium under fred och neutralitet, m.m., better known as the IKFN-regulation. An official explanatory guide of this legal text is found in the form of Handbok IKFN. This document presents in a clear manner what kinds of “military force” Löfven is talking about.

Page in "Handbok IKFN" dealing with submerged submarines in internal waters. Note also the end of previous chapter, dealing with the firing of warning shots. Source: Handbok IKFN
Page in “Handbok IKFN” dealing with submerged submarines in internal waters. Note also the end of previous chapter, dealing with the firing of warning shots. Source: Handbok IKFN

If a submarine is found submerged inside the internal waters, Director of Operations (C INS) is authorized to decide on the use of weapons that might sink the submarine. These may be used without prior warning, unless Commander Maritime Component Command (MTCH, subordinated to C INS) decides against it due to such an order endangering friendly submarines. In an earlier chapter, “Submarines inside the Territorial Waters”, we find the guidelines for warning shots against submarines. Here, weapons of choice are discussed, as well as the important principle of waiting at least five minutes after the warning shots until proceeding with live weapons.

However, at 19:30 into the press conference, the CinC (accidentally?) let an important piece of the ROE for the operation slip, namely that they were not allowed to use weapons “without prior warning”. If the decision to employ warning shots before the use of live ammunitions was made by politicians or high-ranking officers (in which case it most likely would have been either the CinC or C INS) remains an open question. In any case, at some point in the chain of command, it had been decided against employing the full range of alternatives available to the military. This makes Löfven’s reminder an important part of the speech, as it could mean that next time this will not be the case.

With regards to the Finnish-Swedish relation, Löfven took care to name Finland individually first in the line of spheres of cooperation for Sweden, before proceeding with NORDEFCO, the EU, and NATO. In Finland, Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja stated that he had thought the presence of an intruder likely since the start of the operation, and that this removes every shadow of a doubt, while Defence Minister Haglund, who earlier had called for more openness on the part of the Swedish Defence Forces, was quick to praise the decision to present the evidence available.

Summing up the operation, it can only be described as a tactical success. As Captain Jonas Wikström (C INS) expressed it, the goal of the operation was to determine whether “foreign underwater activity is or has been conducted in the area”, something which now has been done successfully. On the strategic and diplomatic level, the relative success or failure is harder to judge, but the fact that the Swedish Navy managed to secure evidence of such a high quality shows that no shadow should fall on the men and women directly involved in the conduct of the operation.

The incident also yet again brought home the point that while it might easily be forgotten in the friendly chatter on Twitter and blogs, the discussion on defence and security can go from theory to practice in a surprisingly short time. The one single tweet that I personally remember best from the whole incident was posted by Johan Wiktorin, and featured LtCdr. Niklas “Skipper” Wiklund in action. It was a sobering experience to see a person one interact with on a regular basis participating in an operation many saw as more or less purely hypothetical only a year ago (except for Wiktorin himself, who wrote about a similar scenario last year in his short novel “Korridoren till Kaliningrad“).

Behind the immediate front line two persons in particular rose above the crowd in my opinion: Air Force (!) Maj Carl “Wiseman” Bergqvist showed in a number of instances in traditional media that he is an adept ASW-expert, while retired naval officer and sub-hunter Göran Frisk provided an enjoyable mix of serious insights, one-liners, and straight talk, to the extent that he now has a Facebook Fan-page with over 4,500 likes. Both of them, together with countless of others, did a valuable job in the face of Russian Psy Ops by spreading correct information about ASW-operations, the state of the Swedish Navy, and the role of Russia in the Baltic Sea-area.

The Göran - Inte som fia med knuff. Source: Göran Frisk Fan Page.
The Göran – Inte som fia med knuff. Source: Göran Frisk Fan Page.

Thanks to Wiseman, Erik Lagersten, Anders Gardberg, and the others who helped me with understanding the roles and terminology of C INS and MTCH.