Details for Navy accident unknown

Norway’s Navy is investigating the collision that led to the sinking of the KNM Helge Ingstad

KNM Helge Ingstad

Photo: Jakob Østheim / Forsvaret
Little of the KNM Helge Ingstad remains above the water after ramming an oil tanker on Nov. 8.

Pieter Wijnen
Norway Today

More than a week after the Navy rammed one of its five frigates into an 820-foot-long (Aframax) oil tanker at 17 knots, the Norwegian Navy Chief still doesn’t know what went wrong.

“We have chosen not to question the crew, because we do not wish to influence them. Of course, they talk to our psychologists and religious counselors. But they have a duty of confidentiality, so they don’t relay what they are told,” Rear Admiral and Navy Chief Nils Andreas Stensønes, tells NRK.

The Navy has given the Norwegian Accident Commission and the police access to the data logs and the crew of the Frigate KNM Helge Ingstad. They will carry out their own investigation later, according to Stensønes. He claims that the Navy wants an “open and honest process regarding the matter,” but says that the Norwegian Navy will not go public before they possess a “complete picture.”

Navigational training

NATO reports that the Frigate was conducting navigational training when the collision occurred. KNM Helge Ingstad was on its way back to the Norwegian Navy’s main base, Haakonsvern, on the outskirts of Bergen, while participating in the NATO exercise, Trident Juncture.

Stensønes does not want to comment on whether there was a special exercise underway when the incident occurred.

“Yes, there was time set aside for navigational training. That is routine. There is a time slot available to the commanding officer. Exactly what the vessel was doing at that point in time, the investigation and the Norwegian Accident Commission must come back to when they have obtained an overview of the situation,” says Stensønes.

Stensønes told reporters he did not even know how many persons were on the bridge of the Helge Ingstad when the collision occurred.

“We have experience that the initial information that you receive about such an event is, at best, incomplete. Therefore, it is important that we obtain as complete a picture as possible before we draw any conclusions,” he adds.

Affected by the incident

The 137 members of the crew were evacuated from the frigate after the collision. Eight sustained minor injuries.

More than a week has passed since the Watch Officer on the bridge ignored pleas from the tanker to slow down and steer starboard, leading to the starboard aft of the multi-billion-kroner frigate being torn to tatters by the 28-times-heavier tanker.

Crew—some coming within a hair’s breadth of death—had their cabins wrecked. Water poured in through the large gash below the waterline, and the frigate eventually sank.

Stensønes says he has talked to the entire crew of KNM Helge Ingstad. “It makes an impression to talk to young, upstanding persons who have experienced something like this,” the Navy high commander concludes.

This article originally appeared in the November 30, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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