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Sweden Scales Back ‘Submarine’ Hunt

HMS Visby and two minesweepers lie moored at the jetty at Berga marine base outside Stockholm Oct. 22, 2014.

Sweden’s military says it has reduced the number of vessels participating in the search for “foreign underwater activity” in the Stockholm archipelago.

The communications director for the Swedish armed forces, Erik Lagerstedt, said some of the naval assets returned to a base for “maintenance,” as the six-day intelligence operation entered “a partially new phase.”

"This means the tactical commander has chosen to rearrange the units he has at his disposal. This means that some of the ships that have been out at sea have returned to the naval harbor for maintenance and some inspection. The crews of these ships will continue to be at a level of high readiness and will therefore stay onboard the vessels,” said he.

Lagerstedt rejected the idea that the decision suggested a de-escalation, saying that land, air and some naval units were continuing the search.

The Swedish military launched its biggest anti-submarine operation since the final years of the Cold War after receiving credible reports of foreign underwater activity in an area extending from Sweden's capital Stockholm into the Baltic Sea.

There has been speculation that the suspected foreign vessel photographed underwater near Stockholm was a Russian mini-submarine, but Swedish authorities have not blamed Russia, or any other country, for the suspected intrusion.

Sweden's military said Tuesday it might use armed force to bring the mystery vessel to the surface, if such is located.