The wastepaper baskets are still full, one can still see the names of her last crew on the crates, and the fascinating action information centre is still there. A lot has remained completely untouched since December, 1997, when HMS Västervik made her last journey in the Swedish Marine Service. A visit on board is like travelling in a time machine.
HMS Västervik is a ship that has really been a part of the Swedish contemporary history. In her small wardroom (dining room for the officers on board), Anatolij Michailovitj Gusjtjin was interrogated.
Gusjtjin was the commander of the Soviet submarine U 137, which ran aground in October 1981 in the Gåse fiords in the Karlskrona arhipelago. This was undoubtedly one of the biggest news events in the world in the 1980s and it is easy to understand how busy the communications traffic aboard Västervik must have been.
The torpedo boat that became the guided-missile boat
Built on the bend at Karlskrona, HMS Västervik was launched in September 1974. She was one of the twelve torpedo boats of the so-called Norrköping class built in the years 1973–1976. From the beginning, the ship was armed with a 57 millimetre cannon and six 53 centimetre torpedo tubes. Västervik has an impressive top speed of 40 knots, is 43.6 meters long and weighs 240 tonnes. She is powered by three gas turbines with 4,300 horsepower each and in active service, had a crew of 30 people (14 professional officers and 16 national service men).
In 1981, when U137's captain Gustjin was interrogated on board the Västervik, the ship was still a torpedo boat. From 1982, she was rebuilt into a guided-missile boat and was equipped with eight marine missiles.
Instruction to leave the scene undisturbed
When Västervik left on its last journey – a test expedition in December 1997 – the Naval Museum understood that this was an opportunity to preserve a ship, which shows in a unique way what it was like to work on a Swedish missile boat at the end of the 1990s.
When Västervik's last journey in the marine service was over, the entire crew received an order to leave behind their own equipment and inventories as well as their personal belongings.
Now moored to the dock of the Naval Museum, Västervik invites visitors to go on a fascinating on-board tour. The name signs on the crates have remained unchanged, in the captain's room there is still a children's drawing on the wall, the waste paper baskets have remained unemptied, and things from 1997 are still there on the table. Today the ship belongs to the Naval Museum. It is partly laid up, and confidential equipment has been removed but much about the ship is precisely the way it was when her crew went ashore for the last time.
Going on board on the Västervik for a guided tour is like embarking on a time journey and entering a frozen moment in history.