Historisk Tidskrift. Utgiven av Svenska historiska föreningen
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Historisk tidskrift 134:3 • 2014

Innehåll (Contents) 2014:3

Uppsatser (Articles)

En nedsänkbar torpedbåt. Svenska sjöofficerares syn på de första ubåtarna

Andreas Linderoth

Fulltext (pdf)


A submerged torpedo boat: Swedish naval officers and the first submarines

The Swedish navy was among the first navies to receive its submarine in 1904 and this article analyses how Swedish naval officers viewed the new weapon in the period 1885–1914. At this time the submarine had not been used in combat to any great extent. When new weapons are introduced into existing military organizations debate often follows, not only about its use but also about tactics and strategy. In the navies of larger and more powerful states, such as Great Britain, Germany, France and the United States, submarines were contested and debated at the beginning of the 20th century. Many naval officers regarded them with scepticism. Studies of the response to the introduction of submarines in smaller states are very rare, however. Sweden is no exception and little attention has been paid to the subject. The article analyses material from the Swedish Navy and reports and essays that were published in two Swedish leading journals of military science.

Sweden differed from the Great Powers in that Swedish naval officers had an almost unanimous very positive view of submarines. In contrast to the Great Powers there was no debate about the usefulness of submarines when they were first introduced in the Swedish navy. The submarine was regarded as a weapon with great potential. Naval officers thought it should be used mainly for the defence of the coast and harbours but also more offensively to attack enemy ships on the open sea. One reason why the submarine was so positively received, the article argues, was that submarines fit very well into the existing Swedish naval strategy. They were seen as vessels that could contribute to the main task of the Swedish navy, i.e. to defend the country against an assault from Russia over the Baltic Sea. The submarines were regarded as torpedo-boats that could dive. Swedish naval officers thought submarines should act together with other vessels in the navy. They therefore saw no need to change Swedish naval strategy but the submarines were to be integrated into the existing strategy. The submarine found a role in the Swedish navy primarily as a complement to the torpedo-boat. It could fulfil the tasks of this vessel in daylight.



submarines (ships), Sweden, 19th century, 20th century, submarine warfare, naval history