By Elias von Hildebrand
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A submarine wreck discovered off the eastern coast of Sweden probably dates from World War One rather than last year when the military hunted for a suspected Russian submersible, the Swedish armed forces said on Tuesday.
Monday's announcement by shipwreck hunters made headlines in Sweden, coming less than a year after its navy searched for a suspected Russian submarine sighted near Stockholm in what as the country's biggest military mobilization since the Cold War.
The military said in a statement that the find was likely a Russian submarine that sank in 1916. It had collided with a Swedish ship in poor visibility, killing all 18 crew members, local media said.
The shipwreck hunters' company, Ocean X Team, had sent underwater footage of the wreck to the Swedish military. Cyrillic letters on the hull indicated it was Russian, according to Ocean X Team.
"I am 99.9 percent sure it's from 1916, but the next step is to go down again and confirm it," Dennis Asberg, a partner in Ocean X Team told Reuters.
Concerns about possible incursions by Russian submarines have increased as relations between Moscow and the West have worsened due to the Kremlin's support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
During the four-decade Cold War that ended in 1990, the Swedish navy repeatedly chased suspected Soviet submarines along its coast with depth charges.
In 1981, in an incident known as "Whiskey on the Rocks," a Soviet Whiskey-class submarine was stranded near a naval base deep inside Swedish waters after it ran aground, causing a diplomatic standoff.
(Reporting by Elias von Hildebrand; Editing by Alistair Scrutton/Mark Heinrich)