Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Whiskey On The Rocks": 25 Years Later

This happened before I joined the Navy, so I don't have anything in the way of first-hand information, but 25 years ago today, a Swedish fisherman noticed a submarine aground in Swedish waters near the Karlskona Naval Base and notified authorities. The submarine was the Soviet Whiskey-class boat S-363 (aka U-137). This began a 10 day diplomatic dance between the Swedes and Soviets:
A daring plan by the Soviet navy to send in a tugboat to free the stranded submarine was averted after a race with a Swedish submarine that reached the stranded U-137 first.
Sweden also protested against Soviet naval forces that were grouped off its territorial waters, and feared they would try to free the submarine.
Tensions were heightened further when Prime Minister Thorbjorn Falldin gravely announced that "with all probability" U-137 was carrying atomic weapons...
...A diplomatic tug-of-war ensued with Sweden issuing sharply worded protests and demanding to interview the captain and review the logbook and charts, and Moscow refusing to allow that...
... The immediate crisis was resolved when Moscow conceded to Sweden's demands for an apology and the right to interview the captain and Besedin. On November 6, 1981 the submarine was allowed to leave Swedish waters.
Despite the Soviet protestations that the boat suffered from "navigation errors", it's pretty clear that they were surveilling the Swedish base and got unlucky (or stupid). Given that the Whiskey was basically an improved WWII Type XXI German U-boat,it appears the Soviets didn't exactly send the "first string" to keep an eye on the Swedes, and they paid the diplomatic price for it.

Update 0116 28 Oct: The website hosting the pictures appears to be really slow right now, but there are four pages of thumbnails of the incident at this Google image search for ' W-137 submarine'. I'll try to post one of the pictures I was able to download when Blogger lets me.

Update 2302 31 Oct: After several attempts, it looks like Blogger finally let me upload the picture:


Blogger CDR Salamander said...

This should make those American Skippers relieved for running aground feel 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.


11/02/2006 3:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


They are alive. Vasilij Besedin was in Sweden at the "anniversary" and was interviewed in a documentary on Swedish TV a few weeks ago. But I think he said that the incident didn't help his career... :)

Another fun fact is that in that documentary the "coast artillery commander" said that they didn't have any ammo for the newly installed Habits 77 that stopped the Soviet fleet, yet. :P

What is not as funny is that Vasilij confirmed that they had nuclear torpedoes aboard and had orders to blow everything up if they risked loosing the sub.

11/14/2006 5:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Habits 77 (misspelled) = Haubits 77 = FH 77 howitzer.

I now realize it wasn't the Haubits 77 but it was the newly installed 7,5/57 that didn't have any ammo. They had some 15,2/40 and some older battery's and a couple of division of fighters on hold. But according to the documentary it was the 7,5/57's modern target radar that locked on and scared the Russian fleet of.

Something like that. :)

11/14/2006 5:40 PM


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