Tanker Sola and Norwegian navy frigate Helga Ingstad collide off Norway

She is sitting on a slop and, although in relatively sheltered waters without long swells, she may slip into the deep fjord if left there through the winter storms.

Securing with wires and chains have proven difficult since there are few strong points on a vessel of this type and none on the shoreline (yet).

The commission has issued it’s preliminary report:

Some background reporting:


Preliminary accident report.

  • KNM Helge Ingstad reported 02:40 entering VTS area to Fedje VTS, maintained listening watch on ch 80 (VTS working channel)

  • KNM Helge Ingstad southbound in Hjeltefjorden 17/18 knots with AIS turned to receiving.

  • 03:00 Pilot arrived on Sola TS.

  • 03:13 Pilot called up Fedje VTS and reported that the tanker was retrieving the mooring lines and making ready for departure, Fedje VTS confirmed receiving information.

  • 03:40 ongoing OOW reported on the bridge of KNM Helge Ingstad, was informed about traffic in the area by offgoing OOW. 3 northbound vessels was plotted on KNM Helge Ingstad radar. During handover, an object was observed with a lot of light that lay still beside or just outside Sture terminal.

  • 03:45 Pilot on Sola TS reported to Fedje VTS departure from Sture terminal out West, Fedjeosen.

  • 03:55 ongoing OOW KNM Helge Ingstad took over the watch

  • With assistance from the two tugs, the Sola TS began to move from the quay at Sture terminal. The vessel lay with starboard side to the quay and the bow southwards. When Sola TS was
    sufficiently far from the dock, the vessel was placed in a port turn to get to 350° towards
    Fedjeosen. During Sola TS departure from Sture terminal, three northbound vessels came on the Sola TS starboard side after Sola TS had completed the port turn and headed north. On departure, Sola TS lanterns and deck lights was illuminated.

  • 03:57 Pilot on Sola TS observed a southbound vessel on the radar without AIS-Signal

  • 03:58 Pilot called Fedje VTS and asked about information on southbound vessel, was informed that the VTS had no information to give. Sola TS tries to contact southbound vessel with Aldis lamp. Pilot order a 10 degree starboard turn to 000 °

  • 04:00 Fedje VTS calles Sola TS and informes the Pilot that Southbound vessel is possible KNM Helge Ingstad. Shortly after this, the Pilot on Sola TS called KNM Helge Ingstad and asked them to swing
    starboard over right away. The bridge crew at KNM Helge Ingstad reported that they could not
    swing starboard before they had passed the object they had on starboard side.

  • 04:00 KNM Helge Ingstad was ca. 400 m from Sola TS. When KNM Helge Ingstad
    did not change the course, both the Pilot and Fedje VTS called up KNM Helge Ingstad and informed the vessel that it had to do something. Shortly after, Sola TS put the propulsion in full astern and KNM Helge Ingstad did a evasive maneuver(port), but it was too late and the two vessels collided.

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  • Bad radio watch on HI

  • Bad radar watch HI

  • Bad lookout HI

  • Bad use of AIS on HI

  • Bad situational awareness on HI

  • Why did Fedje VTS not inform northbound vessels about HI?

  • Why did Fedje VTS not keep closer watch on HI after they turned off AIS?

  • What happened between 02:40 and 03:58 at Fedje VTS to warrant losing track of a southbound warship?

  • Sola TS did not give enough attention to southbound traffic before departure (just tracked AIS not radar?), should have waited to northbound vessels had passed and traveled more east in Hjeltefjorden.

  • Why did Sola TS not call a Pan-Pan on Ch 16 and 80 to call attention from all southbound vessels? (and other vessels in the area) Why waste minutes including a VTS that did not do it’s duty?

So much fuckery that I have more questions after then before reading the report. The whole incident is just mind boggling.

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Why didn’t VTS call HI and order them to transmit AIS signals?

Why didn’t VTS broadcast a warning to all vessels that a rogue vessel with a deceptively small radar signature was southbound without AIS?

Lessons to be learned:

AIS must always be used by Navy , Coast Guard, Police, ships unless they are on a legitimate war footing.

Stealth ships must broadcast amplified radar signatures that give a reasonable indication of the size and aspect of the ship unless they are on a legitimate war footing.

The practice of allowing semi-trained and under-experienced Navy watch officers to steam through commercial ship traffic at high speed in stealth ships without AIS just because the feel like it, and think they are important must end.

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VTS was informed that HI was southbound in VTS area. What happened between 02:40 and 03:58 at the VTS that made them lose track of HI is a mystery.

Likely the same thing that happens at every VTS, monitoring without being actively engaged causes people to become complacent.

I agree with tugsailor here, simple fix, turn on the AIS.

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That’s the easy fix yes.

It is a pity that preliminary reports by SHT and SHF are in Norwegian so that the M/T Sola TS owners cannot easily study them. Actually the Malta authorities should be invited to participate in the investigations. The Norwegian reports are not signed by anyone.
What is clear however is that HI suffered structural damages, three (or four) watertight compartments incl. a generator room were initially up-flooded and that later more compartments, incl. engine rooms were progressively flooded through openings in the watertight bulkheads, we are told based on HI crew observations. If ROVs or divers have inspected the HI wreck/hull from outside is not clear.
So “Havarikommisjonen anser fartøyets manglende vanntette integritet som et sikkerhetskritisk
funn ved Nansen-klasse fregatter og utsteder derfor følgende to sikkerhetskritiske varsler:”
It means that the investigators think that defective watertight integrity (?) , i.e. design fault, contributed to the total loss of HI and that shipyard/designers should do something.
Interesting case. It was extremely lucky that HI didn’t ram Sola TS in the port side and ripped open the Sola TS fully loaded cargo tanks. It could have resulted in an oil spill and fire, where both ships would have been total losses with plenty loss of human lives.

It would be instructive to know what the Coast Pilot states about the recommended routes in the area. The northbound traffic looks to cut the corner instead of reaching a middle waypoint. By doing so, the traffic gets much closer to Sture Oil Terminal and even worst for the southbound traffic; hence it does not give much room for an Aframax to breathe. Preferably, the traffic should follow recommended routes. A tanker departing Sture could let go & turn close by but held until the main traffic is clear before heading to a recommended waypoint. Steaming in coastal waters with 4 vessels overtaking on the stbd side and a further overlooked grey vessel heading southward dead ahead, is not ideal. I think that there will be some discussions with the VTS procedures around that oil terminal …

Reports in English



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It is quite amazing;
HI appears to claim that they where monitoring communication on Ch. 80 and 16, yet though that Sola TS was still alongside, or that his lights were part of Sture terminal.

HI appear to have mistaken the communication with Sola TS as from one of the other three vessels heading north.

Sola TS had reported his departure to VTS, his AIS was transmitting and he would be clearly showing up on radar as a large moving target coming out from Sture Terminal and turning hard to port.

A quick look at the radar and AIS display would have told them the name heading and speed of all other vessels in the vicinity. (AIS may even have been showing on radar and ECDIS display)

It is a bit unbelievable that they were navigating on visual only, unless that was the “navigation exercise” mentioned earlier. (??)

«KNM Helge Ingstad’ carried out an avoidance manoeuvre, but it was too late, and the two vessels collided.»

Nothing about Sola TS avoidance manoeuvre ? As far as I understand from readings, the pilot skillfully advice… to reverse full, most likely assisted by the tug who was as well controlling the propeller transverse thrust. If Sola TS would’ve offer her port beam to HI, that could’ve lead to a nightmare crude oil spill, and worst !

«KNM Helge Ingstad’ sustained major damage in the collision. Control of the rudder and propulsion was lost. This caused the vessel to continue uncontrolled towards the shore, where it grounded at 04:11, approximately 10 minutes after the collision»

Interesting …

no bail for foreigners is what I would say is bias, so stay locked up for years then the judge says sorry we had the wrong guy, you can go now.
Remember the Alaska cruise ship oil book story, the cowboys locked up a German Captain and CE before they even boarded the ship (having never been on it ever) because they missed the departing crew.
Totally against the Geneva Convention

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I am not surprised that the incompetent USCG does stupid things, but believe me, they do it to US mariners too.

For a court, flight risk before trial is a huge factor in bail determinations. I would not be surprised for a court to set a fairly high bail for a foreign Mariner, but most maritime “crimes” ought to be bailable.

If foreign shipping companies refuse to post the bail for their mariners, that is not the fault of US Courts.

Certainly, no one should be held without bail for 95% of alleged crimes. I don’t believe that US courts do that. I can believe that they would set a high bail.

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HI had both receiving AIS and radar so should have had all four vessels plotted electronically even if the visual lookouts were confused by background lights. So what were the nav guys in the CIC doing while they transited a busy shipping channel?

There were enough failures here that AIS alone isn’t to blame, but running in a congested area w/o AIS transmitting is just stupid. HI is not a very stealth ship - it was detected on radar by both VTS and Sola. No AIS added only to confusion to the commercial traffic and VTS and nothing to operational security.

no bail for foreigners
The German government was so disgusted in cowboy land, only with their pressure did the US allow the 2 guys to be confined to a hotel, then first time in front of a judge the judge said no case to answer so goodbye. That was something like 2 years later.
I know a few unlimited masters that will not go to the USA on a ship due to these issues
It was a well documented issue at the time due to the breach of the Geneva Convention Rules

I can only assume that you are trying to spin tugsailor up.

Ricky: “With all due respect, Mr. Dennit, I had no idea you’d gotten experimental surgery to have your balls removed.”

Dennit: “What did you just say to me?”

Ricky: “What? I said with all due respect!”

Dennit: “Just because you say that doesn’t mean you get to say whatever you want to say to me!”

Ricky: “It sure as hell does!”

Dennit: “No, it doesn’t–”

Ricky: “It’s in the Geneva Conventions, look it up!”


HI looks like above.

https://youtu.be/NMK8OyKyMTw shows HI but the music is loud!

Maybe HI was looking for submarines or airplanes attacking it?

If it is legal for the navy ships to sail in the VTS without transmitting AIS signal, then they must first inform the VTS, and the VTS must manually plot them on the RADAR? Normal procedures when arriving a VTS is that the vessel report their arrival and the VTS find the vessel on his screens, and collect the information from the vessel.

The VTS must in the time before the accident have a fast moving target on the radar that are not identified, I assume that they do plot the vessel in the area of the VTS on the radar. However, it can look like, at least this time they was depending only on AIS, and ECDIS.

It also strikes me, that with so many people on the bridge of HI that nobody heard that Sola TS was leaving Sture.

Strange is it also that at the hand over OOW only 5 minutes before the collision, must have plotted his position, and seen that nothing was in front of him on the chart or radar at present course. If it appears a few minutes later, it must be a moving object

HI had the AIS receiver (but not transmitter) on so they could see other ships name etc., what we do not know is the status on the AIS on Sola TS, was it “alongside”, or “underway”. On the other hand, did HI use the ECDIS so they could also see where they and other ships were positioned relative to land, or was they plotting on paper chart?