Tanker Sola and Norwegian navy frigate Helga Ingstad collide off Norway


I agree with that last statement; That US court are not biased against is absolute nonsense.

Do you REALLY believe that all FOC ships is manned top to bottom with nothing but people from some proverbial village in a non-aligned country (Sweden and Switzerland among them) that is paid USD 600/month??
Have you ever been on board a ship under FOC flag, or even though about how illogical that statement is? No ship sail around the world with only ABs.
Have you ever given a though to how insulting that is to your fellow seafarers to be call “3rd world villagers” in a derogatory meaning?
I’m afraid the opinion about the quality of American seafarers among most seafarers are not any better than that of the people you look down on.


Oh fer fuck sakes. Here we go again with the third world villagers argument. When clearly we should be discussing the ineptitude that the Norwegian Navy apparently shares with the US Navy for obeying COLREGS.


I believe that the selection criteria for officers are very different between the navy and the merchant marine. Obviously the selection criteria for the merchant marine is driven by cost, you get what you pay for. I believe that the navy makes less risk assesments and except higher risks than the merchant marine. It would have been interesting to see the HI risk assement for sailing with restricted navigational equipment in restricted and heavy traffic area.


Stopping a large taker on short notice, even with a tug is not going to happen.


But you can reduce the speed? Every action counts. I slight reduction in speed of Sola TS and HI would have passed the bow.


Wow, that’s a juicy case. The final years of the SS Norway is a proper horror story, but this thread is already far enough off topic :-/


Yes, Aage Lokkebraten, Michael Evangelos Psomadakis, Peter Solemdal and Kurt Sorboe are accused of having polluted US/Florida waters and decided to ignore the accusations. Actually they worked for a ship owner that didn’t help them. Strange case.


I just finished the Fitzgerald / John McCain report, in an effort to better understand how these things happen. Sometimes it’s because of unforeseeable circumstances, cultural subtleties leading to ineffective BRM, and all the stars aligning against the crew. Other times it just comes down to blind, bumbling incompetence.


From simulator training on my part, I have no actual on the water experience with large tankers- fastest way to slow a loaded tanker down is to turn it.

If I had to bet, I’d say hard stbd is the right move. It should be kept in mind the Sola did not know what the frigate was going to do, I’d want to get the tanker out of her path if possible. It’s not reasonable to assume the frigate will alter to port in a head-on meeting situation.

In any case I’d defer to 138 as he is a Houston Pilot.


Hard to stb would not be good, our stern would probably hit the HI. There was also vessel on the stb side of Sola TS. Full astern, shifting between 20 degree stb and port, and maximum pull from the tug would probably be the most efficient way to reduce the speed.


What problem are we solving here? The one faced by the Sola at the time or the one where we know the outcome after? If you know a collision is inevitable vs trying to avoid?

If there is a chance to avoid then hard stbd and full ahead would be my guess (fwiw). Maybe try to have the tug drag the stern out of the way as things unfolded.

As far as other ships, deal with the imminent threat then deal with the next situation. In fact one other ship did take action to avoid.


USS FITZGERALD and Motor Vessel ACX CRYSTAL collision 17 June 2017 in the Sagami Bay outside Japan is similar to the KNM Helge Ingstad/Sola TS collision. Fitzgerald with course 190 at 20 knots approached Acx Crystal with course 90 in the fairway. According Colreg Acx Crystal should maintain speed and course and Fitzgerald should turn starboard and pass behind Acx Crystal but Fitzgerald turned port In the last moment in front of Acx Crystal and AcX Crystal’ 's bulbous bow/port bow flare ripped open Fitzgerald ’s starboard side. Seven dead sailors!

USS JOHN S MCCAIN and Motor Vessel ALNIC MC collision 21 August 2017 outside Singapore is also similar to the KNM Helge Ingstad/Sola TS collision. John S McCain with course 230 at 20 knots approached Acx Crystal with course 230 from behind in the fairway. According colregs both ships should maintain speed/course but John S McCain turned port in front of Alnic MC and slowed down and Alnic MC’s bulbous bow/starboard bow flare ripped open Fitzgerald’s port aft side. Ten dead sailors!

The causes of collision are USN bad bridge procedures/human factors.


So the tanker might have been able to reduce speed from 7 down to 3-4 knots. The frigate was still coming at 17 knots. There was an accident in Port Arthur (Eagle Otome) where a tug and barge hit a stopped tanker at 4 knots and still penetrated the hull 4 meters. Compared to the combined speed in Norway of 24 knots (frigate 17 + tanker 7) reducing that combined speed to 20 knots at the expense of giving up your steering ability seems pointless.

@Kennebec_Captain: The fastest way to slow a loaded tanker is to put it on a hill if there’s one nearby. Hopefully a hill of mud, sand or clay. Norway has a lot of rocks, so that wouldn’t have been a good option here.

I have been puzzling over this accident. Usually I can see how a mechanical failure or a mistake on someone’s part could have caused the accident. I think background lights must have played a big part. In Houston it was a never ending battle to get facilities to pay attention to lights along the channel. Sometimes ships at berth were the biggest culprits with extreme wattage floodlights set at an angle where they pointed parallel to the deck instead of down. These lights can be blinding, destroying all night vision and eliminating the ability of a navigator to see anything to either side of them. I know both vessels should have been able to monitor the developing situation on radar, but looking at the timeline associated with the radio log, this went from routine to collision in about 2 minutes. From the tanker’s point of view there was confusion about who was out there. Who could imagine a frigate approaching 3 vessels head on at 17 knots without swinging wide to avoid them? There are things one can do in a developing situation where the second vessel seems oblivious. I have used a searchlight to get attention (after trying other means) and even ordered the deck lights quickly turned on in order to make our size and heading and especially our presence clear to non responding vessels, but in this case there was no time. I am also puzzled by the lack of radio communication between the other two vessels and the frigate. Did they not see her either? The Sola had just left dock and might have needed more time to get get a feel for the situation, but the other two had plenty of time to see what was developing. No AIS from the frigate must have puzzled all of them. I suspect that a dimly lit, non AIS target, approaching a gaggle of three outbound vessels at 17 knots was literally dumbfounding.

From the frigate’s point of view I see less excuse. Maybe the watch standers could not see the other vessels well because of shore lights, but to just steam into a group of radar targets at 17 knots is nautical insanity. There has to be more to this. I am totally confused by the actions of the frigate and the other two (maybe three) vessels.


Rule 2;
A departure from the Rules may be required due to dangers of navigation or to dangers of collision. For instance, a power-driven vessel meeting another power-driven vessel head-on may be unable to alter course to starboard, as directed by Rule 14, owing to the presence of (overtaking) traffic on her starboard side. The departure must be of such a nature as to avoid the danger which threatens. If a departure from the Rules is necessary to avoid immediate danger, a vessel would not only be justified in departing from them but may be expected to do so.

Rule 17, b) When the vessels are so close that collision cannot be avoided by the give-way vessel alone, the stand-on vessel is required to take such action as will best aid to avoid collision. Thence, Rule 17, c) does not apply at this stage; therefore a power-driven vessel is permitted to turn to port for another power-driven vessel on the port bow. Turning towards the other vessel may be the best action to take at close quarters if one vessel appears likely to strike the other at right angles.

Since there was no danger of being strike at right angles, an alteration to port was not expected to be done, unless an agreement was obtained. An alteration to starboard would likely result in another close-quarters situation. Therefore, the only likely option left was to slacken the speed down or take all way off by stopping and reversing.

Taking all way off;
To stop short a laden Aframax, the use of Rudder Cycling technique is agreed. But it takes room and time. As well, the meet head-on vessel could land very confused by the change in aspect of the navigation lights. Therefore, the meet vessel should be notified in advance. The technique works very well. I have done it on a ship’s bridge simulator, on a manned model and in the real life on board such tankers.

Finally, the only likely option left was to reverse full, assisted by the 6850 BHP double Voith tug pulling full on the starboard side axis to oppose the propeller transverse thrust so to keep her steady. The vessel would rest all dead in the water within a few lengths, even less. Hoping that the engine was not on the Load Control and or the engineer could override it. A pilot would advice… such a maneuver ( and believing he did) even if he was only assisted by any of the OWW alone. No permission required from the master …

But at the end of the day, no one is required to be a hero since the ordinary practice of a seamen express that in the face of an eminent peril at sea, no one can be held responsible for an action taken if the expected outcome is not the one obtained ! If a master or a pilot can’t do it, who can ?


There were indeed 3 vessels heading north and none appear to have been aware of the HI heading south. (On top of that the VTS operator was not aware of the presence of her either, or at least not aware of her exact position at the time Sola TS enquired about identity of the approaching vessel)

An added complication was that the conversation between VTS, Sola TS and HI was in Norwegian, not in English as mandated.

Besides the Sola TS, this was the Silver Firda: https://www.fjordshipping.no/portfolio-item/ship-1/
which is NIS registered and may or may not have had a Norwegian on watch at the time.
She had already overtaken Sola TS on Stbd. side at time of collision:

The third was the Vestbris: https://www.marman.no/en/snarveien/
She is register in Antigua & Barbuda and had a Russian mate on watch.
She was about to overtake the Sola TS on Stbd. side and had to make a sharp turn to Port to avoid running into Sola TS when she made a turn to Stbd. just before or at time of collision

In an interview the Mate on Vestbris explained that he did not understand the conversation on VHF and was not aware of the HI until he saw a warship passing along the side of Sola TS. (She was presumably shielded from view and radar by the large tanker ahead of him):

Here is a report in today’s VG:

According to the Pilot’s log Sola TS used Aldis lamp to signal HI without any reaction. They also slowed down prior to impact. (To 5.2 kts. according to AIS)

PS> Please ignore the term “motor brake”, this is a tabloid and even in a maritime nation they do not know anything about things maritime.


The article in Nya Tider states “att fregatten, liksom alla moderna skepp, är byggd av ”lövtunna stålplåtar för maximal fart och manöverförmåga, inte för att tåla en kollision.” meaning that modern war ships are built of paper thin steel plates in order to reduce weight in favor of maximum speed and manoeuvrability and not for to live through a collision. So the sinking of the HI was all in the game, you might say.

I already pointed this out in topic 58. Loss of lives in a war is an acceptable calculated risk, other things are more important.

A trend in modern ship construction of navy ships hulls has been the steady decrease in armor and high strength steel thus rendering the ships more susceptible to damage. Seen in historical perspective WWII ships were built to absorb a lot of damage. Those ships were built much tougher than today’s ships with both stronger and thicker steel used.

Highly manoeuverable frigates, which are built for speed, are also often lightly built in order to reduce weight. Sometimes I have the impression that you can cut a hole in the hull plating of some navy ships with a can opener.

However, these days HY steels 4 are available which were developed for the pressure hulls for the US nuclear submarines and which have been designed to possess a high yield strength, strength in resisting permanent plastic deformation. An example of damage reduction is shown below.


The gap between the Sola and that rock to the west was 900 meters. About 1/2 mile. The watch on the frigate might have been at about thrid mate level. Many third mates would be very uncomfortable taking that gap.

Another factor was the Sola came late to the game, and was accelerating. The bridge watch may have expected to clear the rock first then alter to stbd to meet the Sola.

Add in watch change and fatigue and perhaps some other factors as yet not known.

The weak turn to port may have been a result of indecision, confusion etc.


One would expect that female navigators are less risk oriented, more careful than their male counterparts but it is not sure that they were involved in any way in the events.

On a Dutch marine site an Navy commander says that normally speaking on Dutch navy ships a young officer and two sailors would be on the bridge, not more. He added that he as a commander in this situation was probably on the bridge due to the close proximity of land masses and possible traffic that could be expected near harbor entrances. He would have given orders to switch on the AIS to avoid any confusion. He also saw no need to run at a relatively high speed of 17 knots in these dangerous circumstances as it reduces the available time to take proper measures if needed. He thought that the officer of the watch did not have a proper overview of the situation, a total lack of situational awareness. Also the voice over the radio was totally calm, no sense of urgency could be detected.There was a total lack of action, the frigate did nothing, only when it was too late they went a bit to port.

He put part of the blame on Fedje VTS who also showed no sign of understanding the developing situation, the danger of the oncoming collision and the fact that they took no action as well. A frozen world. Not speaking in English probably contributed to the outcome.


'That’s a good analysis I think. Voyage planning should have taken into account traffic in that area. It’s not surprising however that it would be missed.

wrt this:

I think people object to the term “mental model” as being a little too fancy pants. But saying someone has a lack of situational awareness implies that they are aware that they don’t know what’s going on.

It very possible that the reason for the totally calm voice over the radio was that it was believed that the situation was understood.

It’s possible for a person to believe they have high situational awareness when in fact they misunderstand the situation, an incorrect mental model. Recall Capt Davidson sleeping like a baby.


The lack of action, the calm relaxed voice, all point in the direction that the officer of the watch didnot have the foggiest of the predicament he was about to get in. Call it an incorrect mental mode or even tunnel vision, all evidence that he lived in his own little bubble and nobody around to snap him out of it.