Sweden lays keel for its new submarine in over two decades

These stealthy subs are ultra-quiet.
Ameya Paleja
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The new submarine.N/A
  • Construction of HMS Blekinge was ordered in 2015.
  • It can accommodate 26 sailors and underwater vehicles.
  • Sweden has spent $840 million to improve its submarine designs.

As Sweden prepares its bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), it has also passed a milestone in strengthening its military capabilities. Last month, the country laid the keel for its first submarine in over 20 years — called the HMS Blekinge — manufacturer Saab said in a press release.

Keel laying is an old shipbuilding tradition where coins were placed under the keel of the ship during the construction phase to bring it good luck. In submarine manufacturing, the ceremony is carried out when the first hull sections are about to be joined together.

The project began in 2014 when the Swedish government began making plans to strengthen its underwater capabilities. The next year, the country ordered its two new submarines in two decades.

The Blekinge-class submarines

The new crafts are Blekinge-class submarines. At 213 feet (66 m) in length, each of these subs will have a displacement of 1,925 tons and be propelled by three diesel engines and three Stirling engines. The latter of the engines uses air-independent propulsion (AIP) that will allow the submarine to dive for a period of more than 18 days, Naval News reported.

The submarine has a standard complement of 26 sailors but can be modified to have up to 35 sailors onboard. Options are also available to further expand the submarine design to have 50 sailors but a smaller variant with a footprint of 164 feet (50 m) and displacement of 1,100 tons is also possible in the future. Even the smaller submarine can be equipped with AIP while all can be armed with torpedoes and mines while being equipped with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) as well as magnetic silencing facilities (MSF).

The importance of being silent in the sea

Swedes already excel in noise cancellation technology used in underwater warfare, 1945 reported. With the Blenkige-class, the country is spending another $840 million to improve its previous designs.

Flexible mountings designed on the submarine are expected to help it withstand shocks, reduce transient noise and further reduce the chances of detection by adversaries. The frame of the submarine will also absorb noise while its air ducts and pipes are expected to be quiet as well.

With options of deploying UAV and ROV, the submarine can stay away from risky missions while still being able to carry out intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks. The unmanned vehicles could use active sonar to increase the submarine's reach, even as it remains quietly hidden at a safe distance, poised to stealthily exit the area if the robotic vehicles are detected and destroyed.

"The submarine competence places Sweden among one of few nations in the world with the capability to build modern and advanced submarines," said Micael Johansson, President and CEO Saab.

The first of the Blekinge-class submarine is expected to be delivered no earlier than 2027, which will then be followed up with HMS Skåne, a year later.

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