Swedish Navy WW1

The Scandinavian heavyweight

After the end of the union between the Norwegian and Swedish crowns, desired by Bernadotte in 1814 and completed smoothly in 1905, Sweden was left alone to control the passage of Skattegat and Skaggerak to the North Sea and possessing the major part of the Baltic, the other being under Russian control, his old antagonist. Sweden was twice as lucky as its Scandinavian neighbors to have significant industrial resources and a very sea-friendly population with a history comparable to that of Royal Navy. The parliament approved the construction of coastal battleships of a tonnage and firepower that eclipsed all those produced so far.

Coastal Battleship HMS Aran
Coastal Battleship HMS Aran

Aligning already the most powerful fleet of Scandinavian countries, it was not far behind traditional European heavyweights like Holland and Spain. One of the originality of the fleet was to have been a pioneer in submersibles, especially with the Nordenfelt, produced by Bolinders Mekanika Verkstad and Nordenfelt, Karlsvik in Stockholm. In 1885 these submersibles made a great impression after an international presentation and were sold to England, Greece, Turkey, Russia. They preceded for more than 10 years the first units of Laubeuf and Holland. This tradition continued afterwards, and in 1914 Sweden introduced a powerful submersible force. The Swedish naval bases were at Karlskrona, the main one, fortified at Vauban, possessing 6 large dryclasses and the base of the submersibles, Stockholm, forts, coastal batteries, 3 dry holds, and base torpedo boats, and Gothenburg. Two other bases were located at Farösund in Gotland and Hemsö in the Gulf of Bothnia. The navy, commanded by an admiral, was divided between the coastal defense and the fleet, divided into squadrons. Coastal defense was not limited to forts but included many well-protected batteries in granite bunkers, rail batteries, but also minelayers.

Coastal Battleship HMS Thule
Coastal Battleship HMS Thule

Even for the Hochseeflotte, an invasion of Sweden (never a strategic goal for Germany) would not have been a cakewalk. These were the forces deployed by this country in 1914:
12 Coastal Battleships: 4 class Aran (1901), Oscar II (1905), Dristigethen (1900), 3 class Oden (1896), 3 class Svea (1886). 3 in construction class Sverige.
10 coastal Monitors: 3 Ericsson class (1865), 2 Skjöld class (1871), 5 Berserk class (1873).
7 Cruisers: Fylgia (1905), 5 torpedo-cruisers class Ornen (1896), Clas Fleming (1912).
8 Destroyers: 2 class Hugin (1910), 3 class Ragnar (1908), Wale (1907), Magne (1905), Fashion (1904), 2 other under construction.
49 Torpedo Boats:
-First class: 17 Plejad class (1905), 12 Komet class (1896), 2 Gondul class (1894), 3 Munin class (1886), Hugin (1884).
-Second class: 4 class No. 79, 2 class Agne, 2 class Bygve, 2 class Narf, Galdr, Blixt, Blink.
8 Submersible: Hajen (1904), Hvalen (1909), 3 class Undertvattensbaten No. 2 (1909), 2 in completion class Svärdfisken (1914), Delfinen (1914).
9 Miscellaneous: 2 Blenda class gunboats (1874), 5 Urd class (1877), Edda (1885), Angkanpramen minesweeper No. 9 (1912).

Tonnage 1914:
Coastal Battleships 12 – Monitors 10 – Cruisers 7 – Destroyers 8 – Torpedo Boats 49 – Submersible 8 – Miscellaneous 9

HMS Swerige, ww1-built coastal battleship.

The Swedish Navy during the First World War:

Neutral in 1914, Sweden did not have a hard time keeping it in the light of its naval arguments, so much so that after the virtual destruction of the Russian fleet during the Baltic civil war and the internment of the Hochseeflotte and its scuttling, it remained the main naval force of the Baltic. His actions were limited to ensuring that his coasts were not violated by one or the other belligerent and to assuring the good progress of his commercial efficiency, seriously reduced by the measures of English blockade. From 1917, its merchant ships were as targeted by the U-Bootes as the others, and its neutrality often flouted. Three Sverige-class coastal battleships, three Wrangel class destroyers and seven submersible classes Laxen, Abboren and Hajen, three minesweepers were however built. In 1919, Sweden emerged from the conflict. An unprecedented pacifist movement took over the country, which set aside all new shipbuilding for years. Until 1939, numerous withdrawals of units reduced his tonnage considerably. It was not until 1936 that Sweden’s confidence in the League began to decline and a plan for rearmament was envisaged.

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