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12 Apr 2024

Sweden vital maritime contribution to NATO

Sweden vital maritime contribution to NATO
NATO Allied Maritime Command
NATO Allied Maritime Command Press Release

Sweden is a nation with a rich maritime heritage, which has long played a significant role in international naval operations and security. As a long-standing NATO Partner, Sweden has consistently demonstrated its commitment to European and transatlantic security through various collaborations and contributions to the NATO Alliance, particularly in the maritime domain.

“The combined experience in the Baltic region of NATO’s newest members Finland and Sweden will be of huge benefit to NATO,” said MARCOM’s Commander Surface Forces NATO, German Rear Admiral Stefan D. Pauly, who is in command of the NATO Very High Readiness Force Maritime (VJTF (M)) Task Force. “Their unique capabilities will provide a remarkable boost to Allied underwater domain awareness.”

Since Sweden officially joined the Alliance on March 7, NATO Standing Naval Forces have made two separate port visits to Stockholm. As well as extending a warm welcome to NATO’s newest member, these visits cement the relationship between Allied nations and their naval forces. Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) made the first visit on March 19. The most recent visitor was the German flagship FGS Donau, of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1), whose staff were honoured with a ceremony at the Palace of Stockholm.

As a full member of the NATO Alliance, the Swedish Navy will continue to strengthen the security and stability of the Baltic Sea region. But their unparalleled capabilities will by far reach beyond regional security.

Sweden’s surface ships, submarines, sensors and weapons systems are all adapted to the highly specific modern operational environment. Regionally, the Baltic is demanding for various reasons – with its thousands of islands, its shallow depth averaging only 150 feet, and brackish water featuring varying salinity layers, the Baltic presents a highly specific and specialized operational environment in which the Swedish Navy excels. Swedish military personnel are expert operators in these difficult conditions.

By sharing intelligence and conducting joint operations with Allies, Sweden is vital to the collective understanding of maritime activities, including potential threats from adversaries.

Sweden’s advanced maritime surveillance systems, such as radar networks, maritime patrol aircraft, and underwater warfare capabilities, amongst others, provide valuable intelligence and situational awareness to NATO forces operating in the Baltic Sea region. Sweden will be a great asset to the “NATO Centre for Security of Critical Underwater Infrastructure”, under MARCOM command.

Because Sweden has been working with NATO for so many years, full membership has been a smooth transition, meaning Sweden is already making a valuable contribution to Allied operations.

The Swedish Navy possesses the expertise and resources necessary to conduct a wide range of maritime activities, including anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, and maritime interdiction. In the Baltic Sea region, Sweden maintains Maritime Situational Awareness, provides underwater warfare capability with its submarines, and regularly clears historic unexploded ordnance from previous conflicts, making the seas safer for all shipping.

The Swedish Navy takes great pride in its continuous 24/7 sea surveillance operation, which monitors and secures its waters by tracking and identifying all ship movements within and beyond its territorial sea. With approximately 4000 ship movements registered at any given moment in the Baltic and along Sweden's west coast, vigilance remains high. Sweden's maritime surveillance capabilities and patrolling activities help monitor and safeguard the Baltic Sea, contributing to NATO's efforts to deter aggression and maintain freedom of navigation.

As NATO’s newest Ally, the Swedish Navy contributes fresh perspectives, pragmatic tactics, and active participation in collective defence efforts. 

“The capabilities and expertise their Navy deliver to the high-end fight is unmatched. They are a highly professional warfighting force. My team will integrate their experience into our maritime campaign planning, take their operational and tactical procedures, and apply those best practices into our regional plans,” said Pauly.

The new Blekinge-class air-independent submarines, Luleå-class surface combatants equipped with extensive capabilities, a new state-of-the-art SIGINT ship, and the Marine Corps' rapid combat boat operations represent Swedish commitment to enhancing NATO's capabilities. 

With a Swedish perspective on joint activities, these assets make a significant contribution to NATO's collective defence.

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