Swedish Navy Chief Aims to Grow Submarine Numbers Amongst Near-term Programme Priorities

The three variants of Saab’s A26 family of submarines; Pelagic, Oceanic and Oceanic (Extended Range). (Saab)

Dr. Lee Willett, Undersea Defence Technology conference 2019, Stockholm – Sweden’s navy chief has set out his service’s programme priorities for the 2019-30 period, highlighting an aim to increase the Royal Swedish Navy’s (RSwN’s) submarine force level from four to six boats.

Opening the 2019 Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) conference in Stockholm on 13 May, RSwN Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Jens Nykvist listed this aim as one of five priorities.

A key focus for the RSwN is platform numbers, said Rear Adm Nykvist. The challenge “is the number of surface ships … and the number of submarines.” “We have four submarines today,” he continued. “I am aiming for six.” In terms of numbers, support ships and autonomous/remotely operated unmanned vehicles will also be an area of focus. As regards unmanned vehicles, the chief said “that is definitely something that will increase in all areas.” For example, he continued, future mine counter-measures concepts “is really where I foresee the autonomous and remote systems being operated.” Here, he noted also the importance of interoperability with other operators.

As regards surface ship capabilities, Rear Adm Nykvist said “If we look at the ‘here and now’ perspective, of course the mid-life [upgrade] is of high importance for the Visby[-class corvette], including installation of an air-defence missile.” While he noted that no procurement decision has been taken on this, the chief said these capabilities are a priority he is pushing at a political and military level.

Next, Rear Adm Nykvist noted the importance of international co-operation. He pointed in particular to Sweden’s increasingly close relationship with Finland. In terms of the RSwN’s growing ties with the US Navy, the two services are building “very good co-operation”, he added. “We try to do exercises together as often as possible when US ships are [in] the Baltic Sea or [Sweden’s] west coast area.” Rear Adm Nykvist noted that the majority of RSwN exercises are conducted with other navies, and here “the US is definitely a vital partner for us.”

Another near term focus is the relocation of the RSwN’s headquarters from Stockholm to its base at Muskö, in archipelagic waters south of Stockholm.

Overall, Rear Adm Nykvist also underscored the importance of people: “Personnel is vital; that’s the key, definitely,” he said.

by Dr. Lee Willet