Tanker Sola and Norwegian navy frigate Helga Ingstad collide off Norway

On a ship doing 18 kts down a fjord there’d be other tasks to attend to, time to the next turn might be the most urgent task, next course, whatever turning marks are to be used, parallel index or whatever.

Also they may have been navigation lights to identify or shore lights to sort out. Other tasks in the wheelhouse.

The immediate traffic would have looked simple, three ships port to port. It’d be natural to shift attention to navigation.

Yes, but apart from three ships port to port there was an object with many lights (was) observed lying still just outside the Sture terminal and the object they (HI) saw on their starboard side in the middle of the fjord. So HI turned port to avoid this object, bla, bla, bla. So the Norwegian warship saw three ships and one object and decided to collide with the object. Pathetic! Absurd.

It doesn’t have to sound plausible to be true. Almost all cases like this are the result of lack of or loss of situational awareness so it’s most likely the case here regardless of how implausible it seems at any point.

As more details are filled in most likely it will become more and more plausible. Same as most other incidents.

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  1. AIS

  2. Radar transponders

  3. Pilots.

Reform the VTS and demand any warship operating in Norwegian inshore and nearshore waters in peacetime to show AIS. If they are planning on conducting training on stealth operation, notice must be sent to all VTS and broadcast to civilian traffic. (Time period and area of such training)

Apparently the HI also had stabiliser fins extended (for whatever reason on an inshore passage).
Can’t remember where I saw this, but it struck me as odd that a warship of this type have stabilisers. (Yet alone that they were extended)
I wrote it off as journalistic ignorance, but can anybody confirm, or disprove??

…and profound VTS reforms! In my VTS area, all war ships, local or foreign, carry a pilot. They most demand to do their own navigation for practice purpose but under a pilot supervision. Pilot’s heading and speed advice supersede …

If so one reason could be to have a more stable platform for gunnery control but why in a fjord close to land? The other is to prevent glasses from sliding of the tables.

Back on track. One of the problems was that the radio communication, apart from being conducted in Norwegian, was confusing, undisciplined and unprofessional. Consider the sketchy radio contact between the two ships: “Er det du som kommer her nå? / Ja, det stemmer”. They should listen for instance to aviation radio communication where there is no room for misunderstandings between air planes and the control tower.

Whoever monitored the radios on the HI either did not hear or did not pass on the TS pre-departure and departure calls.

Not realizing there’s a ship the size of an aircraft carrier manoeuvering nearby is a bit embarrassing, but it certainly seems the frigate was both literally and figuratively in the dark, deaf and blind, A simple system to prevent confusion and thus accidents, when ships leave the terminal, would be that a VTS like Fedje sends warning messages at regular intervals as soon as a departure is imminent and under way and in English please. That could be automated with a recorded message, just press a button. The terminal should then inform VTS about departures. It would be nice of course that all ships in the area keep a proper radio watch…

Well, according 14 Norwegian marine incident investigators having interviewed the HI crew, HI observed ahead of it three ships heading north and one big ‘object’ in the fairway. The big ‘object’ was 900 m off the shore line and north of the Sture terminal. To avoid hitting the ‘object’ and running up on land HI turned port in the last moment. The ‘object’ was later identified as M/T Sola TS. It seems the crew of HI thought mysterious ‘objects’ suddenly appear at sea, e.g. submarines testing the Royal Norwegian Navy. I look forward to the final incident report.

Did HI receive the AIS signal being transmitted by the tanker?

How was the AIS displayed on HI? On the radar? On the ECDIS?

There must be some reason why the HI watch did not see an AIS target with a name and predictor line displayed?

Good questions! How could HI miss Sola TS and believe it was an ‘object’?

There are many types of ships:

Ships that carry passengers, ships that carry cargo and ships that carry weapons to destroy the enemy. Forget fishing boats, yachts, etc. Here I discuss the first three types of ships.

Ships that carry passengers, aka passenger ships shall survive one or two compartments up-flooding in incidents and 100% of the persons aboard shall have a seat in a davit launched lifeboat and life raft in an emergency requiring abandon ship in 30 minutes. Compare Costa Concordia 2012. All was the fault of the Captain that 32 persons drowned and the ship was a CTL.

Ships that carry cargo and less than 12 passengers, aka merchant ships, shall have lifeboats for them and crew but there are no damage stability/survival requirements. Compare Exxon Valdez 1989. All, incl. the oil spill, was the fault of the Captain asleep in his cabin.

Warships like KNM Helge Ingstad (topic) are completely different. There are no safety rules for them. Only idiots, aka sailors, work on them and they are supposed to swim ashore after being hit and sunk in action by the enemy. Compare Bismark 1942. All the fault of Adolf Hitler. It is part of the deal when embarking.

I have been involved with all three (and more) types pf ships in my 50 years career in shipping and I have witnessed plenty incidents. Easiest is to blame the Captain but we never did it.

In this case the King of Norway, the Owner, must decide what to do with his incompetent sailors on KNM Helge Ingstad!

Don’t know, but I believe that with the Fitzgerald AIS information was available but was not on the displays used, the way it is on merchant ships.

Can’t speak for the Nords, but we got our AIS on the bridge through one of these:

It gave a text list of ranges and bearings that you could scroll through, but frustratingly, it wasn’t mounted anywhere near the ARPA. I understand the vision is to one day integrate AIS, ARPA, and ECDIS, but the Navy is not there yet.


There is no point in bringing this up over and over. Two possiblities have been discussed, attention blindness or complete inattention.

Complete inattention seems more plausible but it’s rare. The Delaware River duck boat, the Queen of the Norht, can’t think of any others off hand. Never with the Navy as far as I know. The attention explanation is less plausible, more likely.

It seems pretty clear that the answer to your first question is a curt “no”, otherwise I don’t see how this could happen. This is corroborated by the mention in the preliminary report that they were tracking three northbound ships by radar.

That explains a lot.

If that little AIS box , mounted away from the radar, with a list of targets on a 4” screen to scroll through is all they had, no wonder they didn’t know what the tanker was.

AIS without a display on the radar and chart plotter is close to useless. The most useful feature of AIS is having the names and predictor lines of all the vessels as a true motion display super imposed over the chart.

On the radar, the little AIS triangles next to targets tell you at a glance that it’s a ship. Selecting the target instantly provides the critical information about the target.

The failure to have the AIS receiver interfaced with the radar is negligence per se. Its as bad as turning the AIS transmitter off.

Attempting to blame the Spanish Shipyard for the ship sinking is laughable.

A post was merged into an existing topic: Frigate Helga Ingstad Design - Damage Survivability

Most modern ships have AIS information super imposed onto the radar and the ECDIS which is of great assistance at night when leaving Singapore with many ships at anchor and having to cross the westbound lane to proceed East. Apart from turning the AIS on I don’t believe I looked at the little box much.
Frigates have stabilisers to slow heave and pitch of the flight deck for the helicopter.

The most advanced electronic systems are only as good as the individuals who use them. Traditional navigational skills appear to be superseded by over-reliance on new technological advances and automated features. If navigation officers fail to realize there are other tools at their disposal, the ship may eventually run into trouble. Human errors are introduced by:
• fatigue from long working hours
• unfamiliarity with latest generation devices
• overreliance on certain instruments to the detriment of others
• lack of awareness of how these instruments interrelate

Navigators became so reliant to electronics owing to smart phones addiction, that the final result cause a distortion in the way they view the environment or a distortion bias leading to believe that they understand the entire situation, while in reality they only grasps a tiny part of it. If traditional navigational skills can be superseded by new technological advances and automated features, a number of bridge team techno-crew could as well be replaced by advances in sensor technology, computing and artificial intelligence. Such Auto Collision-Grounding Avoidance System could take over, if permitted and probably will one day soon…