MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - The suspected foreign submarine observed in the Stockholm archipelago does not belong to the Dutch Navy, a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Defense said Monday.
"We have had a fleet in the Baltic Sea in line with international practice. Our vessels sailed to Tallinn late last week and they are now on their way home," Marloes Visser was quoted as saying by the Norwegian VG newspaper.
Answering VG's question of whether the Netherlands had control of all its vessels, Visser stated that "we can account for all".
"This month five naval ships from the Royal Netherlands Navy participated in the international exercise Northern Archer in the Baltic Sea. One of these ships is HNLMS Bruinvis. The weekend of October 11th the ships visited Stockholm and spend the weekend there. After the weekend they exercised together with the Swedish Navy. This ended on Thursday afternoon, after which our ships set sail to Tallinn, Estonia, where they arrived on Friday morning," Karen Loos-Gelijns, Head of Communications Royal Netherlands Navy, informed RIA Novosti by e-mail.
"The submarine that is mentioned in the media, could not have been the Bruinvis, as our submarine was no longer in Swedish waters on Friday but was in Tallinn, Estonia. Our ships stayed in that harbor for the weekend and are now in transit back to the Netherlands," Karen Loos-Gelijns added.
The Swedish Armed Forces launched a major operation off the coast of Stockholm on Friday after receiving information, reportedly from a civilian, about the presence of an unknown underwater object in the region.
Earlier media reports suggested that the object sought by Sweden could be a damaged Russian submarine. A spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry denied the claims on Sunday, stating that "there have been no extraordinary, let alone emergency situations involving Russian military vessels".