In October 1981, the Russian Submarine W-137 accidently navigated on an underwater rock about 2 km from the Swedish main Naval Base at Karlskrona. The boat was stucked on the rock for nearly 10 days. The Russian Navy sent a rescue task force to the site in Sweden; it was composed of heavily armed destroyers and high sea tugs.
As a result of negotiations between the Kremlin and the Swedish Goverment, the master on the Russian Submarine was taken ashore for a hearing. Very little came out of it. The submarine was released to the Russian. The matter was first-page news and closely watched by CBS, BBC, ATV and others.
The name of the captain was: Captain (Third degree) Anatolij Michajlovitj Gusjtjins, age 35 years. The boat was of Russian W-class (Whisky) and carried nuclear weapons in the forward torpedo room.
Onboard was also another officer of higher rank, Lt Cmdr Avsukjevitj. He was a specialist (?) in navigation in archipelagoes in Baltic western waters.
The boat belonged to a Russian naval base in Leiepaja but Gusjtjins admitted that he lived with his family in Baltisjk (Kaliningrad). On his return to Baltisjk, Gusjtjins was said to have been lowered in rank but kept his employment in the Navy.
The Russians moved the base of Baltic and Atlantic fleet from Kronstadt to Köningsberg after WW2 and renamed the city to Kaliningrad. They also built a huge Naval Base near Pillau which they renamed to Baltisk.The base inhabited about 50,000 naval personel and families and was a closed city during the cold war. Today, the former glittering captial of Prussia is a gost city where everything is gray.
During the first 5 years, the detection of U-boat activities was of a normal character. Following detection, the boat disappeared and nothing was heard from until a new detection was made and so on. In that time it was difficult to determine the nationality because time in action was too short to record any propeller sound for further analysis.
About 1980, the pattern of intrusion changed. The boat did not leave the scene after detection. It stayed and played hide and seek with the Swedish defenders. In 1980 the Swedish navy possessed no destroyers which could move at full speed with active and passive sonar engaged. The new Swedish anti U-boat weapons where small patrol boats and helicopters. They had to idle on site in order to listen for sound in the water and they were out manoeuvered by the Russian Submarines.
In one instance, a new Swedish Submarine was being tested for speed and sound. The sub was in communication with a nearby helicopter equipped with sonar. Suddenly the helicopter detected a second 'return' from a submerged target. Believing the equipment was malfunctioning, the Submarine was ordered to surface immediately. Upon surfacing, an intruding huge submarine passed 20 cm under the keel of the Swedish sub, at about 20 knots!
The intruding Sub had followed the Swedish during the speed test and had not realised that the Swedish submarine had surfaced.
This particular incident caused a full alarm as the speed tests had taken place near the Stockholm Naval Base. But the intruding submarine remained in Swedish waters for another two weeks.
On another occasion, small trawlers operating in southern Baltic waters near Gothenburg caught a submarine in their net and were dragged backwards below surface by the Sub’s powerful engines.
And, finally, the Whisky Submarine taken with her pants down on Oct 27 1981
The Whisky Submarine (Background)
After the war, the Soviets captured 4 modern German XXI snorkel U-boats. Between 1951 and 1957, the Soviets built 226 bad copies of the German XXI. According to information gathered from Nato - there were 24 boats of W class (Whisky) still in service 1981 in the Soviet, Third World and other Warsaw pact countries.
The boat was 76 m long 1030 Grt, and carried a 60 men crew. Armed with 6 torpedo tubes and storage for another 24 torpedoes and 24 mines, the Whisky boat could make 17 knots on the surface and 13.5 knots submerged.
NATO considered the 1950's Whisky as a bad copy of the German's 1940's XXI !
Are we not in Poland?
The Captain of U-137 claimed that the gyro compass of the ship did not work properly which had lead the captain to believe he was navigating in waters off Stolpe Banks along the Polish coast and that he was surprised to have found himself on a rock in the Swedish Naval station Karlskrona.
The submarine also carried a man with a considerably higher rank than the Captain and the man presented himself as passenger and navigation expert. The political officer onboard also had his own version and told the Swedish commission that the U-boat thought they were navigating around the island of Bornholm in Denmark!
When the Swedish interrogating officer left the boat he stumbled over rolls of very well made and very detailed Russian charts covering the Navy Station in Karlskrona and the neighbouring waters.
Just the right charts to have onboard when you are sailing in Poland!
HOW SERIOUS WAS THE INTRUSION?
When one looks at the the photos which follow one cannot but wonder "was it close to war?" Following are some additional facts about this incident
After gounding the W-137 in Sweden the Captain wired a report to Baltisjk. The Russians then sent a Task Force consisting of 3 heavy oceangoing tugs escorted by the heavy destroyer "Obraztsovyj" a 140 meter converted Kasjin Class with a crew of 320 men. It was armed with SSN 2 C Styx Missiles, possessing a range of 80 km, several 76 mm guns, torpedoes and various antiaircraft missiles/rockets. The "Obraztsovyj" sailed together with another destroyer of the Kildin class, similarly armed. The Commander of the Task Force was Admiral A. Kalinin with order to pass through the Swedish border, salvage the W-137 and tow it back to Batijsk.
W-137 had not sent any distress call and Sweden did not accepted the submarine's emergancy claim. Sweden denied entry to the Kalinin's Task Force. Kalinin and his ship continued on with full speed ahead toward the Swedish border.
The Swedish Prime Minister Torbjörn Fälldin order the Supreme Commander to "keep the border clean". The costal artillery, with a newly installed Bofors Haubits 77 as well as the older 15 cm artillery were ordered to fire on any of the two destroyers (but not the tugs or salvage ship) who crossed the border without stopping.
Kalinin was only 1 mile off the border when he was informed that active Swedish target seeking radars were locked on his ship. When a mere 60 secons away from the border he turned his ship portside together with the other destroyer - but the Submarine salvage craft continued on across the border. It was soon stopped by 3 Swedish torpedoboats of the Spica Class.
The central radar sight for coastal artillery could see, on their screen, two dots moving north easterly between the Russian U-boat salvage craft and the Russian destroyers. The Haubits 77 was locked in on the new targets and when the ships moved out of the foggy belt they were visually identified as two peacefull German merchant ships destined for Karlskrona with loads of grain. The Germans had no idea what was going on.
Could that situation have developed into a state of war? In any case, it certainly was not the right time for human failure to have taken place.
Swedish military personel involved in W-137 drama
Lennart Ljung born 1921, General, Supreem Comander Swedish Forces
Soviet officers onboard W-137
Bengt Schuback born 1928, Vice admiral, Chief of staff
Per Rudberg, born 1922, Vice admiral Sw Navy
Nils Sköld, born 1921, General Sw Coastal defence
Sven Olof Olson born 1927, General Sw Air Force
Jan Carlos Danckwardt born 1923, Colonel, Chief all forces round Karlskrona
KARL ANDERSON born 1931 Comander Sw Navy negotiator with W-137
Emil Svensson born 1940, Comander section 1 Staff of Marines section U-boats
Ulf Björkman born 1924, Colonel, Press Secretary Sw Air Force
Anatoilij Michajlovitj Gustjin (master of Uboat 137 during one year) age 35 year 1981. Captain of 3rd degree. Lived with his family in Baltijsk. After return to Soviet Base degredated but kept his employmency with the Red Navy.
Getting worthier not better.
Josef Avsukjevitj, Commander, age 41 year 1981, (higher rank than the master) not listed as crew member of Uboat 137, said to be "navigation expert for this particular voyage" Uboat educated. Leutenant Captain (political officer onboard). After returnal to base, nothing known.
Vasilij Besedin, Leutenant Captain (political officer onboard) age 30 years 1981. After returnal to base, nothing known.
Pavel Savtjenko, Subaltern Officer, 35 – 40 year 1981. On watch for the time of grounding. After return to base, nothing known.
Korostov, Navigation Officer age aprox 25 1981, refused to give his first name. Responsible for the ships navigation and equipment.
One could have expected the Russians to cut down on their underwater activities after their misfortune of Oct 1981. But no way! In early January of 1982, a flotilla of foreign submarines were detected. All along the coast of Stockholm to the coast of Gothenburg. For the following 2 - 3 years the Swedish Navy deployed all they had; Submarines, helicopters, robot cruisers, patrol- and torpedo boats in a desperate hunt of the intruders.
One day, the Navy let the press know that they had a midget sub trapped in the basin off Hårsfjärden. They claimed that the Sound was closed with nets and activated mine lines and that there was no way the midget sub could escape.
Unfortunately, two weeks later, without any captured U-boat, the Navy had to admit that the Midget Sub had somehow escaped.
New Prime Minister Olof Palme murdered on the streets of Stockholm. 1987
Palme was fed up with the Submarine incidents and was planning to build up good relations with Russia on a nuclear free zone in the Baltic. The Russians were also very interested to improve the relations with neutral Sweden which could then act as buffer to NATO. Understandably, the Swedish/Russian relations had become quite frosty following the W-137 affairs.
The Navy felt betrayed. Three days before Palme´s visit to Moscow in 1987, you could see six well known faces of high ranking Navy officers on the Front Pages of daily papers with the headline PALME IS A TRAITOR.
A TV reporter interviewed Palme and raised the question:
Have you any thoughts on why the officers in the Navy do not trust the Prime Minister?
"I have had some thoughts if I could trust my officers and I came to the conclusion that that I can do so - which does not includes those 6 officers in the newspaper."
Two days later Mr Palme was shot dead - the murderer is still free despite a reward on 50 million SEK.
The Swedish Television recently released a program of Palme and the murder plot. It was aired in 3 parts and was extremely well done. The conclusion was that the murder was set up and organised by a number of ex officers, some of them later serving as police officers in Stockholm. The so-called police trail.
The intruders continue.
Even during the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Navy detected U-boats. Several well known Russians assured time after time - that:
Never, ever, had any Russian Submarine trespassed into Sweden - except for the W-137 who made errors in navigation and thought he was in Poland.
Home from the tides
Sung by Angelo Spinazzola
Used with permission
Great number..... Enjoy!
Following is a pictorial record of the incident.
[ The news paper Aftonbladet publishing an article of the Soviet midget sub who was believed to be the intruder in the Naval base of Stockholm (Hårsfjärden) early 1981. ]
[ At the time when the Soviet sub W-137 ran aground in the restricted area of Naval Base Karlskrona - the Swedish Navy had only one crew/ship on 1 hours alert - namely the converted MTB Vedette Boat 03 ]
[ On 12 hour alert Torpedo Boat Division in Karlskrona had 5 modern boats of SPICA class available with crew ]
[ Special helicopters equipped with sonar and dept charges searching the bottom of the Stockholm Naval Base 1980 for intruding Midgets and mothership Submarines ]
[ Navy divers found trace in the bottom (at Hårsfjärden) of a resting mothership sub. The trace showed the sub had a keel (like soviet subs on Whisky Class type) ]
[ Chart of the area where W-137 ran aground. Note the clear signs all over on military restricted area ]
[ Chart of the area where W-137 ran aground. ]
[ Master of Submarinet W-137 Anatoilij Michajlovitj Gustjin ]
[ The political officer onboard, Capt. Vasilij Besedin, whose responsibility was to ensure that none of the crew escaped to foreign country ]
[ Mr Besedin and guard with machine gun showing visiting Swedish fisherman Keep off sign. ]
[ For more than 18 hours the W-137 submarine tried desperately to get off the ground by her own engine and no one in Sweden had noticed the boat! ]
[ The Swedish Navy V-03 arrives to the grounding site with Commander Karl Andersson onboard. The cover of the aft automatic gun remains on. The Swedes have no intention to shoot ]
[ Captain Gustjin writes his and his boat's name in Anderssons pocket diary.
Gustjin tries to speak German ]
[ Front page of Swedish Newspaper October 27 1981 (extra edition) ]
[ Close picture of Commander Karl Andersson (No. Not the actor Roger Moore) ]
[ Secretary of Foreign Affairs Mr Leif Leifland (the Prime minister's right hand in the negotiation with Soviet authorities) ]
[ Swedish Supreme Commander of defence General Lennart Ljung gives a briefing for the foreign press ]
[ The flagship of the Soviet task force Obraztsovyj with Admiral Kalinin onboard on straight course for Karlskrona ]
[ Swedish paratroopers arrive with LLCM on nearby island ]
[ Swedish paratroopers have the U-boat tower at gunpoint. ]
[ On peacefull walk, the Soviet Marine Attaché Jurij Prosvirnin and Soviet Secretary Boris Gregoriev flanking the Navy’s representative Percy Björling on the streets of Karlskrona ]
[ Minister of Foreign affairs Ola Ullsten, Prime Minister T.B. Fälldin and Supreme Commander L. Ljung - discussing the findings of nuclear torpedoes onboard the U-boat]
[ Commander Avsukjetivitj surrounded by Swedish Naval personnel and policemen onboard the V-03 ]
[ Swedish Coast Guards moored alongside the Soviet sub with special equipment for detecting eventual nuclear material onboard the submarine ]
[ F.O.A special agent Lars E. De Geer hidden in forepeak of Coast Guard cutter with his equipment. ]
[ Commander Karl Andersson entering the submarine's tower with a civilian interpreter for inspection of navigation gear onboard the sub.]
[ Swedish Prime Minister and the Minister of foreign affairs make a statement in TV about the nuclear bombs ]
[ Commander Karl Andersson makes an interview on International TV about the submarine ]
[This and following two photos: Captain Gustjin and Besedin are finally brought to interrogation according to agreement between Swedish and Soviet government. The two were taken to an nearby island under armoured escort and from there to a helicopter ]
[ Captain Gustjin and Besedin are finally brought to interrogation ]
[ Captain Gustjin and Besedin are finally brought to interrogation ]
[ The Russian Captain onboard the Swedish Naval helicopter on its way to the torpedoboat Spica ]
[ The Russian Political officer onboard the Swedish Naval helicopter on its way to the torpedoboat Spica ]
[ Bunkering the Soviet Sub with freshwater from a navy ferry with a tank truck on deck. The Submarine Captain demanded sanitary certificate on the water. ]
[ Politruk Besedin letting a small number of sub's crew entering the tower for fresh air and for smoke - all the time, heavily guarded by Besedin's men. No one may escape his U-boat. Swedish paratroopers had order to shoot Besedin and defend any escapers from the U-boat. ]
[ Wind is increasing to gale force strength and Submarine sent distress signal for help ]
[ Swedish seamen on submarine's aft deck setting a tow ]
[ Towing the W-137 off the ground in full storm by 3 heavy tugboats ]
[ Under escort by the minesweeper Ornö, the tug Achilles is towing W-137 to the border ]
[ Finally free! W-137 sets course on the Russian Flagship and to a very uncertain future for the Captain and his men. ]
Copyright © 1984-1999 Computrain All rights reserved