The Navy celebrates 500th anniversary

Throughout the entire year of 2022, the Swedish Navy will celebrate its 500th anniversary.
500 years ago, in 1522, the Swedish Navy was born, the reason being the pivotal role of sea and navy lines of communications in times of turbulence. Throughout the centuries, the Navy’s presence in times of conflict or peace has been important to Sweden’s development and independence. 500 years later, the importance of the sea and the Swedish navy is just as great as when it was founded. Join us in celebrating the Navy and all the people who have served at sea throughout the centuries, to ensure Sweden’s well-being and prosperity.

HMS Visby möter ostindiefararen Götheborg II.
HMS Visby möter ostindiefararen Götheborg II.
Old versus new. HMS Visby and the Swedish sailing ship Götheborg II. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

The 500th anniversary of the Swedish Navy will be celebrated throughout the year in different ways and in different places all over the country.

On this page, all activities and events will be presented to allow the public to take part in the celebrations. The upcoming events will be regularly updated. As soon as the programme has been decided, updates on the events will also be provided. 

The birth of the Navy

Changes that occurred in the 16h century affected the maritime domain in the Baltic Sea. Maritime trade and shipping increased and piracy was a common problem. The country that had control and power over the Baltic Sea, was the country that controlled commerce.

In 1520, the Danish king Kristian II mobilized his fleet and seized Stockholm, thus strengthening his position and control of commerce. In order to oust the Danes and decrease their dominance in the Baltic Sea, Sweden needed a fleet.

King Gustav Vasa purchased ten ships equipped with weaponry and arms from Lübeck and they were delivered on 7 June 1522 at Slätbaken, close to Söderköping, and since then, this day has been recorded as the birth of the Swedish Navy.

500 years of sea, people and conflicts

From times immemorial, Sweden’s economy has been underpinned by two essential pillars, i.e. shipping and trade.  As early as 1350, it was prohibited to cut down oak trees, since the wood was needed for shipbuilding. The importance of oak trees for shipbuilding was prioritized in Sweden until the mid-1900s. In 1832, over 300 000 oak trees were planted on the island of Visingsö in the lake Vättern, to secure the future needs of the Swedish naval shipbuilding industry. In 1975, the Swedish Armed Forces was informed that the oak trees were ready to be delivered.

Times have changed and the trees on Visingsö were never cut down for the purpose of shipbuilding. However, the needs for ships and naval presence in our area remain. History is changing and there have been major new developments in technology. New needs arise as the external security situation changes over time.

The sea is a natural part of Sweden and we depend on our marine territory. The Swedish coastline is one of the longest in Europe and has always been a venue for commerce and shipping and of primary importance for national security.

Our presence at sea and our ability to follow movements in the Baltic Sea and our vicinity have always been matters of utmost importance.  

The Navy operates all over our naval territory, from the open sea to harbours, protecting our nation’s interests and safeguarding our nation’s prosperity.

Activities and events

  • Kalmar 13-14 May
  • Härnösand 20-21 May
  • Stockholm 3-7 June
  • Karlskrona 12-14 August
  • Gothenburg 26-28 August
  • Malmö 23-24 September