Norwegian warship collision

Frigate strikes oil tanker while returning from NATO exercises

KNM Helge Ingstad

Photo: KV Bergen / Forsvaret
Damage to the KNM Helge Ingstad.

Staff Compilation
The Local / The Barents Observer

As of Nov. 8, an operation was underway to try to stop a Norwegian navy frigate from sinking after it collided with a Maltese oil tanker in a fjord in western Norway.

Eight people were injured in the accident, which took place shortly after 4 a.m. in a busy waterway in the Hjeltefjord near Bergen, Norway’s military said. Are all safe, the Norwegian Navy told reporters in a press conference.

The 137 people on board the KNM Helge Ingstad frigate, which was returning from NATO’s Trident Juncture exercises, were evacuated after the collision with the Sola TS tanker, the military said. The frigate was en route back to Haakonsvern naval base.

“The KNM Helge Ingstad suffered damage above and below the waterline. The damage was such that the frigate was no longer stable and was not able to float sufficiently,” a Norwegian Navy officer, Sigurd Smith, told reporters.

“It was therefore decided to force it up on (nearby) rocks,” he said.

By the early afternoon, the gray 5,500-ton vessel was listing heavily on its side, its helicopter landing pad lying largely under the water, television images showed.

“It took on a lot of water and there is a real danger that it will sink where it is,” an official for the Sola rescue center told AFP.

KNM Helge Ingstad

Photo: Kystverket, NCA / Forsvaret
This arial photo of the frigate shows the KNM Helge Ingstad listing to one side, and the small diesel spills from it. The curving line on the right side of the photo is part of the effort to contain the pollution.

The Navy fears that the frigate will slip off the rocks and sink. Tugboats are trying to keep it in place under Navy supervision.

“We’re trying to stabilize the ship on the rocks” in the hopes of refloating it, Navy Admiral Nils Andreas Stensones said.

Like other naval vessels on duty, the frigate carries weapons, like missiles, torpedoes, and depth charges. “According to our assessments, there’s no reason to believe that anything, like an accident, could happen with the weapons” on board, he said.

The cause of the accident was not yet determined, the Navy said. Happening just outside Sture oil terminal, the accident raises a lot of questions.

The 68,000-ton oil tanker, which was flying the Maltese flag but is owned by a Greek shipping company, was only slightly damaged. None of the 23 people on board were injured, the rescue center said, and no leak from that vessel was reported.

Norway’s coast guard said it had detected small diesel spills in the water and was trying to contain further pollution. An anti-pollution ring was thrown up near the frigate to contain spills.

Built in Spain in 2009, the KNM Helge Ingstad participated in chemical disarmament operations in Syria between December 2013 and May 2014.

KNM Helge Ingstad is one of the Norwegian navy’s five frigates of the Fridtjof Nansen class. The ship is named after a famous Norwegian Arctic explorer, like the other four frigates in the Norwegian navy.

This article originally appeared in the November 16, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit
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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.