In the carefully balanced vernacular of international diplomacy, this is an incident best described as "a little bit awkward".
Ocean X and Ixplorer, a pair of Swedish ocean exploring companies, were investigating a wreck two miles off Sweden's Baltic coast, expecting to find a ruined fishing vessel or ancient lump. What their diving bot discovered was an unidentified submarine, entirely undamaged, measuring some 20 metres in length and 3 metres in width. The only clue as to the vessel's origins? A set of Russian Cyrillic letters on the hull.
The ocean explorers made their discovery known to Swedish newspaper The Express, though withheld the exact location of the downed sub pending further investigation with Swedish armed forces.
Theories abound as to the exact identity of the sub: the only records of a lost Russian submarine date back to 1916, when a 'Catfish' mini-sub sank somewhere in Baltic waters. The size of the wreck is comparable to the Catfish, but some experts have told The Express that the ruin doesn't look old enough match the World War I vessel.
The Swedish military has confirmed that the submarine isn't one of their own, and no other neighbouring navy has offered up an explanation for the craft, leaving the possibility that the sub is the result of a failed secret Russian test mission. While conspiratorial, this notion is lent further evidence by the lack of distress signals received by the Swedish military in recent history, and by the indication that no hatches have been opened on the sub (it wasn't abandoned and left to sink).
Sweden has a president of unidentified craft moving about its waters: in October 2015, three sightings of an unknown vessel off the coastline of Stockholm sparked fears that Russia was testing an experimental mini-sub, the Triton-NN, in Swedish waters. Despite intercepting signals from the vessel, they were unable to identify or capture it.
We'll bring you word on the real identity of the wrecked mini-sub as soon as the Swedish Navy and explorer crews move in for a closer look.
We're keeping our fingers crossed that it turns out to follow the events of Michael Crichton's Sphere. Because, wouldn't that be fun?
[Via: The Independent]