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28 Oct, 2014 10:02

​‘Russian distress call’ prompting Swedish sub hunt never existed – sigint source

​‘Russian distress call’ prompting Swedish sub hunt never existed – sigint source

There was no Russian distress call. That’s the opinion of a Swedish signal intelligence (SIGINT) source after a massive $2.8mn military and media sub-hunt consumed the country for a week.

Reports of a Russian distress signal and a grainy-picture were enough to deploy the navy while the media widely concluded the vessel had to be a Russian submarine spooking Stockholm.

The proof of this was an alleged comms intercept, at distress call frequency, between the supposed sub and Kaliningrad base.

But the Dagens Nyheter daily cited a Swedish Intel source who confessed there was no distress call.

Citing freedom of information requests and its own sources, the paper said Sweden’s signal intelligence agency knows nothing about the alleged distress calls, and registered no spikes in communication with Kaliningrad at the time.

“I’d be glad to read about that emergency call myself. But it didn’t happen, this information is incorrect,” the newspaper cites a source as saying.

Swedish corvette HMS Stockholm patrols at Jungfrufjarden in the Stockholm archipelago on October 20, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anders Wiklund / TT News Agency / Sweden out)

The navy operation, which was dubbed ‘Hunt for the Reds in October’ by the Swedish media, was reminiscent of the Cold War era, when Swedish warships patrolled the Baltic Sea looking for Soviet submarines.

READ: Sweden ready to use force to surface foreign sub as search continues

During the search, many recalled the infamous 1981 incident, when a Russian submarine got stranded near Karlskrona, a major naval base. The incident, which caused serious diplomatic waves, was dubbed ‘Whiskey on the Rocks’ because the S-363 sub in question belonged to the Whiskey-class.

Russia has denied sending any subs to spy on Sweden, or having one suffer an emergency in Sweden’s waters. Sources in the Russian military suggested that the fuss was caused by a sighting of a Norwegian U-boat participating in a joint NATO drill in the Baltics.

The Swedish Navy’s efforts to find the elusive foreign activity cost the country 2.2 million euros ($2.8 million), it reported last week. The operation was the biggest in decades in a nation, where military spending accounts for about 1 percent of GDP and has seen steady cuts during the years of the European economic slowdown.

According to the latest draft budget published in the wake of the naval operation, Sweden plans to increase military spending for 2015 by $93.7 million.