Warship on the rocks after collision with oil tanker
A Norwegian frigate collided with an oil tanker in the dark on her way home from the largest Nato war game since the end of the Cold War.
The Helge Ingstad ran into Sola TS, a 250m Maltese-flagged tanker carrying about 625,000 barrels of crude oil, at 4am yesterday local time.
Although the tanker was undamaged, the NZ$900 million frigate took on large quantities of water and was in danger of sinking when the captain took her into shallower water before running her aground. Eight injured crew members were taken off as well as the other 129 on board. Two are being treated in hospital.
The Helge Ingstad, which was carrying a helicopter, depth charges, torpedoes and a sea-to-air missile defence system, had been taking part in Trident Juncture, a two-week Nato exercise involving 51,000 personnel, 65 vessels and 250 aircraft from 29 member states.
Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary-general, has described the exercise as a crucial test of ‘‘the biggest adaptation of our collective defence in a generation’’.
While its purpose was ostensibly defensive, Russia had denounced it as a build-up of aggression and threatened to fire missiles through the field of operations, centring on Norway.
After the exercise concluded, the Helge Ingstad was returning to the Haakonsvern naval base near Bergen when she ran into the tanker a few kilometres north of the island of Alvoyna. As the frigate listed and threatened to capsize, 10 personnel remained on board steer her into shallower waters.
A marine traffic map shows the 134m-long frigate tracking the island’s coast for about 3.2km after to the collision before turning abruptly towards shore. She was left tilting at an angle of about 45 degrees with her bow apparently resting on rocks and the helicopter deck underwater. She appeared to have released a small oil slick, one official said. At least six tugs are attempting to haul her back to base.
The nearby Equinor Sture oil terminal, from which the tanker had put to sea, was closed temporarily. The tanker has resumed her journey to a terminal in the northeast of England.
The Norwegian frigate KNM Helge Ingstad, sits nose-first on the shore after a collision with the tanker Sola TS, in Oygarden, Norway.