November 8th. At 0403 hours local time, the Norwegian frigate KNM Helge Ingstad, F303, collided with the Maltese-flagged ship Sola TS — a 60,000-ton oil tanker which had just taken on a load of crude oil at the Sture Oil Terminal on Alvøyna Island, twenty-two miles North-West of Bergen Norway. The Ingstad had been participating in Trident Juncture-18, NATO’s largest exercise in many years.
The frigate was on a southwesterly course, approaching Sture, when the collision occurred. The tanker struck her on the starboard side aft, near the location of the hangar deck. A long gash that appears to be 50-70 feet long opened her hull to the frigid waters of the North Sea, and the Ingstad began to take on water.
An examination of the course of the Frigate following the impact suggests the Captain attempted to beach the vessel to prevent her from sinking. The ship was put up on the rocky shore two to three miles of the Sture Terminal. Photos and videos taken at the scene show several ocean-going tugs from the terminal pushing at the Ingstad to keep the vessel near the shore as it developed an ever-increasing list to starboard. This effort appears to have been partially successful. The Ingstad has rolled over onto her starboard side but remains in shallow water.
The Norwegian Navy reports eight light injuries to the crew, and all 137 evacuated and safely ashore. The Sola TS is not reported to have suffered any damage. The Helge Ingstad is the fourth vessel of the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate and was commissioned in September of 2009. Displacing 5,200 tons, this Frigate class is surface and anti-submarine warfare capable; armed with missiles, torpedoes, depth charges, a 76mm gun, and anti-aircraft defense systems. It is also capable of operating helicopters from its flight deck on the stern, but it does not appear to have had one aboard when the collision occurred.
The Sola TS was built in 2017 and is rated at 62,000 tons displacement and 112,000 tons when fully loaded. This vessel is currently holding at a position approximately ten miles North-East of the collision off Alvøyna Island. The tanker is accompanied by a large tug called the Tenax. While photos show a grayish slick of diesel oil coming from the Ingstad, there are no reports of the Sola leaking any crude oil.
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