IMO there would be no reason for the commander on HI to be on the bridge at this particular time. (Assuming he trusted the abilities of his officers)
The HI had been sailing along the inshore route for many hours by the time they got to Hjeltefjorden.
They went inshore from Sildegapet, north of Maaloy. There are many stretch along there that is much more of a navigational challenge and the normal North/South traffic on the inshore route would be about the same.
PS>They did turn on AIS when passing Maaloysundet in daylight, but for some reason turned it off shortly after.
The difference, once they entered Hjeltefjorden, is the traffic to/from Mongstad Offshore Base and refinery that crosses the fjord near Fedje. As they proceeded south there would be the addition of large tankers from Sture and Kollsnes and offshore vessels from Aagotneset that would be heading north to reach open waters at Fedje. But the fjord is wide, deep and straight for quite a long distance, with few other hazards to navigation.