Race to stop frigate sink­ing af­ter oil tanker col­li­sion

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD -

OSLO: An op­er­a­tion was un­der way yes­ter­day to try to stop a Nor­we­gian frigate sink­ing af­ter it col­lided with a Mal­tese oil tanker in a fjord in west­ern Nor­way.

Eight peo­ple re­ceived mi­nor in­juries in the ac­ci­dent, which took place shortly af­ter 4am on Thurs­day in a busy wa­ter­way in the Hjel­te­fjor­den near Ber­gen.

The 137 peo­ple on board the KNM Helge Ingstad, which was re­turn­ing from NATO’s Tri­dent Junc­ture ex­er­cises, were evac­u­ated af­ter the col­li­sion with the Sola TS tanker.

“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,” said a Nor­we­gian navy of­fi­cer, Sig­urd Smith. “It was there­fore de­cided to force it up on rocks.”

Yes­ter­day, the grey 5000tonne ves­sel was list­ing heav­ily on its side, its he­li­copter land­ing pad at the back of the ship ly­ing largely un­der the wa­ter.

“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 cen­tre said.

The navy fears that the frigate will slip off the rocks and sink, with tug­boats try­ing to keep it in place un­der the watch­ful eye of sev­eral navy ves­sels. “We’re try­ing to sta­bilise the ship on the rocks” in the hope of re­float­ing it, Ad­mi­ral Nils An­dreas Sten­sones said. “Ac­cord­ing to our as­sess­ments, there’s no rea­son to be­lieve that any­thing, like an ac­ci­dent, could hap­pen with the weapons” on board.

The cause of the ac­ci­dent had yet to be de­ter­mined.

The 62,000-tonne oil tanker, which was fly­ing the Mal­tese flag but is owned by a Greek ship­ping com­pany, was only slightly dam­aged and none of the 23 peo­ple on board were in­jured, the res­cue cen­tre said.

No leak from that ves­sel was re­ported.

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