Race to stop frigate sinking after oil tanker collision
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.