Norwegian investigators recreate collision that sank frigate

Image: Norwegian Coastal Administration (file)
Image: Norwegian Coastal Administration (file)

The Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN), with cooperation from the Royal Norwegian Navy and other partner organisations, has recreated the collision between the frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad and the commercial tanker Sola TS that resulted in the warship’s sinking in the waters off Oygarden.

The AIBN recreated the conditions experienced by Helge Ingstad during the early morning hours of November 8, 2018, to have a better understanding of what the the frigate’s crew, particularly the lookout, saw in the minutes prior to the incident.

The collision was recreated in the same fjord where it occurred at just after 01:00 local time on Tuesday, April 2. The wind and the waves in the early morning of April 2 were almost as strong as they were in the early morning of November 8 and thus provided a similar limited degree of visibility for the vessel crews who were participating in the exercise.

Helge Ingstad’s sister ship HNoMS Roald Amundsen and Sola TS, the same tanker involved in the incident, were used to recreate the events leading up to the collision.

Roald Amundsen followed the same course and sailed at the same speed of 20 knots as Helge Ingstad did just prior to the collision while Sola TS took the same course and cruised at the same speed as it had at 04:26 local time on November 8.

However, instead of colliding, the two vessels passed each other’s port side with a safe separation distance.

The scenario was repeated but with the two vessels travelling at lower speeds. Just prior to the point of collision, Roald Amundsen veered to port, and the two vessels passed each other’s starboard side, a safe separation distance once again in between them.

The AIBN had earlier suspected that the marginal visibility at the time of the incident made it nearly impossible for Helge Ingstad’s crew to distinguish between the tanker’s running lights and the lights on the shore on nearby Oygarden.

Following the recreating of the collision, an AIBN official has said that the agency now has “a better picture” of the events that led to the frigate’s sinking but declined to provide details.

The AIBN and the local police will then conduct follow-up interviews with Helge Ingstad’s crew as part of the investigation.

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