Swedish sub hunt eased

2014-10-22 18:58
Swedish minesweeper. (AP)

Swedish minesweeper. (AP)

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Stockholm - A six-day long search for a suspected submarine in Swedish territorial waters near the capital of Stockholm entered a "new phase" on Wednesday, the Swedish military said.

"Ground forces and air force helicopters as well as some marine units will remain in the search area," defence forces spokesperson Erik Lagersten said, saying that the tactical head of the operation had decided to redeploy some naval vessels.

The operation, involving navy vessels, aircraft and army units, is the largest in years. It began on Friday after the military said it received credible reports of what it labelled foreign underwater activity.

Among the vessels that returned on Wednesday to quay at Berga Naval Base south-east of Stockholm was the stealth-type corvette HMS Visby.

The 40-strong crew have worked in six-hour shifts round the clock, HMS Visby's Commander Per Ohrstedt said at a news conference with Lagersten.

Crew members were to remain onboard the vessels and ready to be deployed at short notice. Meanwhile, the vessels were to undergo maintenance.

Lagersten denied that the operation was scaling down despite fewer vessels at sea.

"The intelligence operation aims at gathering information about what is going on underwater in the Stockholm archipelago," Lagersten said.

No new sightings have been made since Monday.

Swedish authorities have not accused any particular country of entering the country's waters and Moscow has denied involvement after allegations that Russian-language radio calls were intercepted.

During the Cold War, Soviet submarine sightings triggered similar large scale operations.

Last month, Sweden protested over two Russian Su24 jets that flew into Swedish airspace south of the Baltic Sea island of Oland.

The planes left after a Swedish jet fighter was dispatched to the area.

Read more on:    russia  |  sweden

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