STOCKHOLM - A wrecked submarine found off the coast of Sweden is probably a Russian vessel that ran aground a century ago after colliding with a Swedish naval ship, local newspaper said Tuesday.
Speculation has been swirling about the origins of the vessel, which was found by shipwreck divers nine months after a high-profile hunt for a mystery submarine in Swedish waters.
The Dagens Nyhter newspaper said it was most likely that the wreck was an Imperial Russian Navy sub that sank with an 18-member crew in May 1916 after a collision with a Swedish vessel.
Sweden's armed forces refused to be drawn on its identity, with spokeswoman Lubna El-Shanti telling AFP: "We do not want to speculate right now." Swedish divers announced Monday that the vessel had been found about 1.5 nautical miles off the coast of central Sweden.
According to Stefan Hogeborn, a diver with the Ocean X Team that made the discovery, the mini-sub was "completely intact" with "no visible damage to the hull" and the hatches were closed.
"It is unclear how old the submarine is and how long it has been laying at the sea floor, but the Cyrillic letters on the hull indicate that it is Russian," he said in a statement.
Dagens Nyhter, citing unnamed experts, said it was a Som class submarine built for the Imperial Russian Navy in Vladivostok in 1904 and integrated into the naval fleet in the Baltic Sea in 1915.
In October, Sweden's navy launched a massive hunt for a foreign submarine, suspected to be Russian, in the Stockholm archipelago.
The military subsequently confirmed that "a mini-submarine" had violated its territorial waters, but was never able to establish the vessel's nationality.
Last year's hunt for the mystery vessel came at a time of particularly high tensions between Russia and the West over the conflict in Ukraine.