Salvage Divers Capture Footage of Wrecked Norwegian Frigate

Published Dec 17, 2018 7:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Norwegian military has released detailed video footage of the damage to the frigate Helge Ingstad, which sank last month after colliding with a merchant tanker on the approaches to Bergen, Norway. 

A Norwegian Navy EOD diving unit captured footage from the vessel during a mission to remove missile launchers from her foredeck. All weapons have now been removed from the frigate, and salvors are making preparations to raise her and bring her to the Haakonsvern naval base near Bergen. The heavy lift vessel Rambiz has begun the work of pulling chains beneath the Ingstad's hull, which will be used to hoist her intact from the water so that she may be placed onto a semisubmersible barge for transport. 

"All diving assignments we undertake require detailed planning and thorough preparation. We must be able to solve the assignments we are given, while providing as low a risk as possible," said diving unit leader Bengt Berdal. "Our biggest concern [during this mission] is any increased movement of the vessel."

Over the weekend, the salvage work was delayed due to heavy weather, and the team expects to resume its task as soon as conditions improve. The salvage and dive support vessels involved in the operation have used the pause as an opportunity to put into port at Hanøytangen in order to resupply. Given the delays, the Ingstad will not be raised until after Christmas, but the team hopes to complete the work as soon as it can, given the risk of further damage or movement of the wreck over time. 

A preliminary investigation indicates that the collision was caused by a chain of human errors. In the early hours of November 8, the Ingstad was inbound along the Hjeltefjorden on the approaches to Bergen. She was nearing the Sture oil terminal, where the Aframax tanker Sola TS was in fully laden condition and preparing to depart. The watch on the Ingstad had just changed, and the incoming watch believed that the Sola TS' decklights were part of the well-lit terminal. Sola TS left the dock, turned and headed outbound, on a course that put her in a meeting situation with the Ingstad. According to the Accident Investigation Board Norway, the Ingstad's bridge team maintained the mistaken impression that the tanker was a fixed object as range decreased, despite multiple warnings from the Sola TS and the local VTS station. Ingstad maneuvered at the last minute, but too late to prevent a collision with the Sola TS' bow.