Helge Ingstad Accident Report

Still, too bad they left out some details in name of political correctness and in order to protect identities of those involved.

In particular I do not see in the report mention of :

  • how many were males and females on the bridge.
  • what was age of each of the crew member. They give only average age of the whole grup (22years old).
  • how many foreigners/guests were on the bridge. Just only one OOWT ?
  • which of those 7 people on the bridge were those 4 with eyesight problems. That is what duties did perform those with poor eyesight.

Even the authors of the report does not quite believe in what they wrote , in the respect as to what was going on the bridge , since one of the recommendations they have made is to install video cameras on the bridge.

That makes perfect sense, so long as you presume that the OOW tried to resolve the situation visually, which he clearly did. Trouble is, that wasn’t his job. He was supposed to keep an eye on things, including the various navigation aids, to make sure things didn’t get out of hand. Somehow he got so engrossed in the training task that he forgot all about that, and I feel like that’s a glaring hole in the report.

That is rather interesting. I always give relative bearing and range when clarifying traffic situations, as in “I’m the red hulled workboat eight cables off your starboard bow.” I wonder if that habit is a carryover from the days before AIS? The Rhine skippers don’t even give their name these days, relying on ATIS / AIS overlay to light up the talker.

It’s pretty clear that the Sola’s bridge team expected the HI to check them out on AIS, which would be the only logical course of action. If someone gets on the horn sounding extremely concerned about a crossing situation, VTS gets in the mix telling you to do something immediately to avoid collision, what are you going to do? Figure out who you’re talking to, or assume it’s one of those guys over there?

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A pelorus is the term used to mean the centreline gyrocompass repeater at the conning position in navy speak.
In square riggers a fitting was placed on the port and starboard rails and the pelorus, basically a gimballed azimuth ring was shipped into the fitting to take a relative bearing and the true bearing being obtained using the standard compass and corrections.
The last one I saw was fitted to a small Norwegian coastal ship where the single gyro repeater was fitted at the steering station.

On older merchant ships you would have a standard compass on the Monkey Island and a steering compass in front of the steering position, Bearings were taken from the Standard compass.by climbing up top with the pelorus
The bearing(s) could be communicated to the bridge via a “blowpipe”, or more likely by climbing down and plotting the bearings yourself
Later the steering compass was replaced with a periscope and fittings at each bridge wing to install the palorus for relative bearings:
On a 1938 built ship ship with no working radar operating on the Australia coast and to islands in the South Pacific I installed electric tape in the windows (green on Stbd./red on Port side)
When you leaned against the flinders bar on the steering compass that gave 45 degr. bearings. Sighting via the bridge wing door coamings gave the 90 degr. bearing.
Simple when using 4-point bearings. Sailing up and down the Great Barrier Reef route this saved a lot of climbing up and down to the Monkey Island,

In close quarter navigation it was just to count seconds, or a stop watch to determine the time between the two. Applying the estimated speed you would find your distance off whatever was the target.
Further away would require the use of a cooking timer, or a watch, but then only counting minutes.

PS> Not recommended for modern day navigation, nor likely to be a known method for many these days.

Is Gender relevant? I don’t think so. Scandinavians are generally much more integrated. So possibly a mix.
The OOWT was a English speaking officer from an allied navy. Probably the American.,
He did not understand the communication in Norwegian.
The Norwegian OOW would have.

The language of communication has been noted in the report. As a contributing factor.

I don’t think it’s a lack of belief. Rather an inability to resolve conflicting recollections. Which is why they recommend a VDR with voice and video.

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As far as conflicting recollections go I like this footnote.

At 04:00:11, the OOW on HNoMS Helge Ingstad replied: ‘No, then we will sail too
close to eh… blokkene/båkene’. 15

15 The exact word that is spoken is unclear and the OOW cannot explain it in retrospect, but the phrase is related to the illuminated ‘object’.

Scandinavians were integrated. But was the guest integrated? It would be easy to imagine scenario where the OOW is “integrated female”, and OOWT is an male accustomed to all male crew. Just an pure guess.

Is a courts marshal in the offering now the inquiry is over?

Yes the OOW and obviously the OOWT. We’re stuck on an incorrect interpretation of what they were seeing.
The rest of the Bridge team. OOWA + T and Port Lookout were stuck in the same misconception or didn’t question it. The HM knew it was a tanker but thought the OOW knew it was and didn’t say anything.

I get the impression from the report. The OOWA + T were focused on thier tasks not the overall situation due to tunnel vision. They were taking there bearings and plotting them. Confirmation of thier location on the ECDIS.
The report does not specify what they took bearings off.
Presumably navigational marks. And observed or reported(visually) traffic.
The report does not mention if bearings were taken of the bright stationary object mistakenly believed to be the oil terminal.
I suspect not. A steady bearing would or should have indicated a problem. Collision course.

The VHF coms from outside. Perhalps should have been better or more direct.
To be fair. I doubt if I would have communicated better. Or possibly even as well. VHF is not my go to default. To resolve a rule 17 situation. Even though I work in a VTS area .
Further more it would be my expectation. The other vessel would see me as a vessel. If anything AIS and VTS would lead me to believe I was known to be a vessel even more.

I’ve still got some reading to do on the findings for the TS and the VTS.

Clearly the Pilot and Master on the TS were behind the 8 ball.
They realized there was a problem a little to late and didn’t act quite enough soon enough. They did act. They did try.
A small alteration to Starboard. Engine was stopped and put full astern. Unfortunately a little bit to late.

Bottom line the TS allowed the HI to get into a situation so close the TS could not by her manoeuvre alone get out of it.
Would I have done better.?Not fair to suggest.
I would have been in a. VTS area. I was familiar with.
I would have lacked critical information I would have routinely expected to receive. From VTS and AIS.
I should still have expected the possibility of unidentified non participants.
I see a Vessel approaching, it’s relatively large and fast. Should be participating.
Natural response. Ask VTS. VTS drops the ball. No information provided. No AIS.
Lack of AIS should be a clue to grey funnel or other Similar.

It’s coming close. I am concerned,
VTS provides possible name.
I flash Aldiss. I attempt to contact.
I still expect to be seen I am a massive radar target. light up like a football field.
I still haven’t acted. I am still expecting the approaching fast vessel to act and the logical action is an alteration to Starboard.
We are talking to the HI response is incomprehensible or inconceivable.
We now act but it’s to late. If anything the 10 alteration makes it worse.
We stick with the book and traditional response. Try to go to Starboard or try to stop.
To late neither will work.
Only one move left but we don’t take it.
You would have to have a lot of balls. To go hard to Port and put the engines ahead. You will be crucified when it doesn’t work.
Logic the other vessel should still be trying to go to Starboard.
They tried the traditional responses.

The pilot and the master allowed the HI to get to close. Why?
They assumed they could be seen, it would never have occurred to them they were mistaken as the oil terminal.
Even up to the last communication from the HI.
Would it have occurred to any off us?


We all know the OOW was male, since his voice turns up on the VHF recording. Meanwhile, persistent rumors (multiple well connected sources) have it that the American OOWT was a rather attractive female. Might this have influenced the OOW’s diligence in attending to the training task vs. the more important aspects of his job? I don’t know, but I can tell you this: I’ve had a female apprentice or two in my time. While I always strive to stay professional, I’m sure I’ve looked pretty foolish to an outside observer once or twice.

Speaking of VHF recordings, did anyone else notice the sunny, carefree jauntiness in the OOW’s voice? He strongly radiates just the kind of confidence you want to project if your aim is to impress the apprentice. It gives me the chills, how happy he sounds, not knowing that there’s 100.000 tons of bad news bearing down on him, and how dramatically his life is about to change.

Of course, this is pure speculation. For all I know, the mood on the bridge of the HI may have been one of stone cold professionalism. However, I feel that the chemistry within the HI bridge team is a relevant avenue of inquiry, which the accident report should have sought to clarify in greater detail. The omission becomes no less glaring with the heavy handed way the report was gender neutralized.


This reminds of kids drowning right in front of 50 people at a pool party. When everyone is supposed to be watching something, no one is.
As far as the deck lights go, it has always annoyed me that ships tend to use deck lights and/or anchor lights that are essentially street lights or at least use the same bulbs. 5 anchored ships between you and a well-lit town looks like a huge mass of street lights and it isn’t always obvious which lights are not on shore. It always gets my guard up.

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In particular cruise ships looks like lit up Christmas tree. Try on this one find navigation lights!

13 posts were split to a new topic: Lighting / vision / Timing/strobe light effect

Changes are afoot in Norwegian shipping:

Norwegian Original on NRKOMG Google What Did You Do?!

The Navy are proposing quite a number of changes, mostly to do with watch officer training and clearance. The Coastal Administration (VTS people) say they’re strengthening training and changing CPA limits, not that I see how that would have changed the outcome. There is also talk of automatic target acquisition.

Speaking of automatic tracking: The accident report states that the Navy avoids the use of sleeping AIS warning because the number of false positives from vessels alongside in narrow passages. Normally, AIS warnings are based on CPA and TCPA (or just CPA alone on low end systems). Why isn’t there a setting for other vessel SOG as well? That must be trivial from a software engineering perspective, and it would solve the problem outright with little or no side effects.

Also, could someone with the requisite broom in hand do a bit of thread cleanup, please?

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My OpenCPN plotter has a setting to ignore anchored vessels, it assumes 0 knots SOG is anchored. This is good when there are about 500 docked targets around, it seems some people just leave the AIS on 24/7 whether or not the boat is being used.

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Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really need. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings. With just this one agreement, you can save your life and others.

«I do what the officer of the watch tells me to do»,
«I don’t keep track of it, as it’s not my job»,
«I don’t have the competence that the officers have».
«Is that you approaching?» … «You must turn to starboard immediately!»

«The interviews conducted by the AIBN indicated that the helmsman realized before anybody else in the bridge team that the lights ahead on the starboard side of HNoMS Helge Ingstad belonged to a moving vessel».

«VTS operator assumed that they would resolve the situation between themselves, and left it to the pilot on Sola TS to clarify the situation»

Nothing much about Colregs !

Point of contact:
«The tanker’s starboard anchor was the first point of contact in the collision between HNoMS Helge Ingstad and Sola TS. The anchor and 20 m of the anchor chain were ripped out».

These types of protuberate hawsepipes were design to clear the anchor away from an excessively bulky bow. They are nothing less dangerous than these bull horns that can rip open any hull or be snatch against any dolphins or jetties. An awful certified artifact junk.

HNoMS Helge Ingstad maneuver:
«The OOW on HNoMS Helge Ingstad ordered rudders 20° to port, understanding that it was too late to turn to starboard. The HM moved both tillers to port, but the rudder had not moved more than 10° to port when the OOW issued a counter-order to set the handles to midship. This had the effect of changing the course of HNoMS Helge Ingstad from 147.2° to 145.7°».

Normal reaction; altering to Port away from an immediate danger to Stb’d. The heading did not change appreciably but instead induced a lethal lateral pressure behind her pivot point.

About as useful as starting a broadcast with “Vessel on my port bow…”

“Is dat you shinin’ dat light in my eye?”


Yeah, I’ve been thinking that this move may well have saved everyone on board.

After I read through the HI bridge orders. I came to the same conclusion. Very last minute or last few seconds,
The possibility I could imagine. The HI receiving a more direct hit and possibly more casualties, perhaps it’s what the conn imagined. And why the hard to Port order was countered.

The PwC report on the salvage operation was presented today. Only available in Norwegian, as far as I can tell, but here it is:

There’s way too much to summarize in a couple of cute sentences. The report goes through the damage control efforts, and also seeks to explain how the salvage costs came out of control.

For those who have been vocally critical of the move to abandon ship: When the decision was made, they were in the “poor stability” state as per the damage stability chart, and flooding one more compartment would have pushed them across the line to “vessel lost”. Seems like getting off was a prudent move.