War­ship on the rocks af­ter col­li­sion with oil tanker

The Dominion Post - - World -

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.

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