Following the collision between a Norwegian Navy frigate and an oil tanker in 2018 that resulted in the sinking of the frigate, the duty commander has been found guilty of negligence and given a 60-day conditional sentence by the Hordaland district court.

Details of the Sinking

The officer, whose identity remains unknown, had initially denied the charge. The collision occurred when the 134m KNM Helge Ingstad collided with the Maltese-flagged oil tanker Sola TS, tearing a large hole in the frigate’s side while in a harbour in Sture, north of Bergen, and resulting in the evacuation of the frigate’s 137 crew members. Eight individuals sustained minor injuries during the evacuation.

A computer generated image of the incident. The frigate later sank.

The prosecution claimed that the duty commander’s negligent navigation was the primary cause of the collision. They subsequently prosecuted the officer. Although he acknowledged that he did not perform flawlessly he denied any criminal wrongdoing. He accepted the guilty verdict however.

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However, the officer expressed disappointment with the outcome and believed it was unfair to hold him solely responsible for the sinking. He pointed out that mistakes were also made on the tanker and at the maritime traffic centre, which was responsible for traffic in the region.

Beyond Repair

After the collision, the frigate was raised but ultimately deemed too expensive to repair and was subsequently scrapped. In contrast, the tanker was only slightly damaged.

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In February 2022, Twitt Navigation, the tanker’s owner, reached a settlement with the Norwegian state and agreed to pay 235 million kroner (£17.6m) in relation to the collision.

The Frigate

The Helge Ingstad in happier times. One hell of a ship.

KNM Helge Ingstad was a Norwegian frigate that was built by the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and was commissioned in 2009. The ship had a displacement of 5,290 tonnes and a length of 133 meters (436 feet). It was equipped with various weapons and defence systems, including missiles, torpedoes, and guns, and had a crew of around 130 people.

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Prior to the collision that ultimately led to its scrapping, KNM Helge Ingstad had been involved in several international missions, including NATO operations in the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. It was also used for maritime surveillance and patrol in Norwegian waters.