The study was published in the series Oslo Files on Defence and Security in 2013. Gjelsten used accessible sources to consider reports on observations of unidentified submarine objects in Norwegian territorial waters. The aim was to assess the probability of the objects being unknown, foreign submarines.
The idea is to publish the updated text in English.
A summary of Gjelsten's original Oslo File in English:
The purpose of this study has been to utilise the available source material to analyse the
circumstances surrounding reported observations of unidentified underwater objects in
Norwegian territorial waters.
The aim has been to investigate the likelihood that they
were unknown, foreign submarines. The period covered ranges from 1960 to 1990 with
a few glances at the years before and after.
Initially, the study presents an overview of which nations could have the motive, the
capacity and an operational pattern of sailing their submarines to qualify as potential intruders.
Next, the parameters of the unique environmental water properties that exist in
Norwegian fiords are explained. Even when hunted by surface units equipped with hull
mounted sonars, the conditions favour a submerged perpetrator in most circumstances.
The study concludes that there is little doubt that foreign submarines have operated
in Norwegian territorial waters without prior clearance from proper authorities. Since
the usual way submarines operate in such circumstances is to be present, but silent and
hidden, it is impossible to calculate the frequency of intrusions. Probably, the number of
sightings reported represented only the tip of an iceberg. Furthermore, the analysis indicate
that the majority of the submarines that violated Norwegian sovereignty in the period
between 1960 and 1990 most likely were conventional submarines of Soviet origin.
On the other hand, in some cases the evidence pointed to one of the Western sea powers
as the possible home state of the intruder. Hence, it cannot be excluded that allied navies
occasionally operated submarines in the fiords without permission. It is also a fact that
very few documents have been declassified and only a minimum of sources have been
available to shed light on and increase the insight into the matters treated in this study.
What is common to all the countries capable of sending submarines to penetrate
Norwegian fiords submerged, is the secrecy and sensitivity that still characterise this
Selected publications by Roald Gjelsten (for full overview go to staff page)
- 2013. "The Small Country as a Maritime Great Power: The Case of Norway". In Maritime History and Identity. The Sea and Culture in the Modern World, edited by Duncan Redford, 120–140. London/New York: I. B. Tauris.
- 2012. The Norwegian navy: A brief history; translated and adapted from a work by Bjørn Terjesen, Tom Kristiansen and Roald Gjelsten. Bergen: John Grieg.
- 2004. "The Role of Naval Forces in Northern Waters at the Beginning of a New Century". In Navies in Northern Waters, 1721-2000, edited by Rolf Hugh Hobson and Tom Kristiansen. Frank Cass Publishers.