Tanker Sola and Norwegian navy frigate Helga Ingstad collide off Norway


From the preliminary report:

The Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) from Sola TS has been secured and played back. It contains voyage data and audio recordings from the vessel’s bridge. Radar data and automatic identification system (AIS) data have been obtained from the Norwegian Coastal Administration. Data from the bridge of ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’ have also been retrieved and secured.

At around 03:40, the navigation officer coming on watch arrived on the bridge of ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’, went through the handover procedure and was informed about vessel traffic in the waters by the officer leaving the watch. The three northbound vessels were registered and plotted on the radar on board ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’. During the watch handover, an object with many lights was observed lying still just outside the Sture terminal.

At approximately 03:57 the (Sola TS) pilot observed the echo of a southbound vessel on the radar. The vessel was north of ‘Sola TS’. The pilot saw the vessel’s green light and that it would cross his course line, but did not have an AIS signal for the vessel.

At approximately 04:00, Fedje VTS called ‘Sola TS’ with the information that the vessel was possibly ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’. Shortly thereafter, the pilot called ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’ and requested it to turn to starboard immediately. The bridge crew on ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’ replied that they could not turn to starboard before they had passed the object they saw on their starboard side . Just after 04:00, ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’ was approximately 400 m from Sola TS. When ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’ did not change course, both the pilot and Fedje VTS called ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’ requesting the vessel to act. Shortly thereafter, ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’ carried out an avoidance manoeuvre, but it was too late, and the two vessels collided.

(end of quote)

The avoidance manoeuvre (900 meters from shore) was a port turn just in front of ‘Sola TS’, whose bulbous bow ripped open Helge Ingstad’s starboard underwater hull and whose anchor ripped open the war ship’s superstructure/deckhouse above waterline aft. It seems the Norwegian sailors didn’t have a clue where they were or what to do. I wonder what the Helge Ingstad’s hull damages below waterline looks like. However, from the report:

The AIBN’s preliminary assessment is that the accident was not caused by any single act or event, but can be explained by a series of interacting complex factors and circumstances.


This quote is worth a careful read:

After the outcome is clear, any attribution of error is a social and psychological judgement process, not a narrow, purely technical or objective analysis.

  • Richard Cook and David Woods

The Navy’s preliminary report no doubt did have an agenda, but it was written as a presentation of facts, with no blatant bias. It had new information which helped to understand the incident.

By contrast the article clearly has an agenda and has no new facts of interest from a “purely technical or objective” point of view. It’s opinion, meant to focus blame.

Of course the Navy has an agenda, but the report at least had the appearance of an objective presentation of the facts. In particular the details about the lights.


This Sture oil terminal is Norwegian state owned and operated since 40+ years, so that crude oil can be exported from Norway. The live oil comes from the Norwegian Sea offshore oil wells at the bottom of the sea and is killed underway via platforms and pipelines so it can be exported from Sture. It is a good business. The collision interrupted crude oil transports a week and cost Norway plenty money. That’s life.


It went from first inexplicable to now self explanatory. That was easy. Remind me of Feynman:

“Mathematicians can prove only trivial theorems, because every theorem that’s proved is trivial”


Yeye, in the context of the preliminary accident report. Trying to put blame on the Sola TS is mudding the water and giving the navy time to breathe.


Minor correction. bulbous bow of Sola TS did NOT contact HI. Sole damage to HI comes from anchor and its elements as well as the fact that HI compartments were not watertight.

Below you can see images of the Sola TS undergoing repairs at Gdańsk after the collision with HI. The only damage to the bulbous bow of Sola TS visible on the photos is abrasions from anchor chains.

Frigate Helga Ingstad Design - Damage Survivability

It looks like ‘Sola TS’ is repairing its side shell plating fwd of the collision bulkhead and above the chain lockers and above the top of the fore peak tank, i.e. in some store room fwd high above the waterline and above the fore peak. And behind the extension fitted to allow the anchor to drop free. Maybe the whole side was pushed in over 8-10 meters? Also the bulwark above the main deck is cropped. And the paint on the bulbous bow below waterline is only scratched by the anchor chain. I am curious what the hull damages of HI look like. Divers or a drone (ROV) should have a look.


Blame is for insurance companies lawyers to argue about in court. The public to get excited about it. Politicians To try and score points. And punishment is motivated by a desire for revenge.

And the some former Grand High Norwegian sparrow to get some personal publicity by publishing a load of speculative BS disguised as fact for the ignorant.

None of which will do a damn thing to help prevent accidents like this from happening again.

There are very few known facts. The radar screen video is factual. The voice recordings are factual. The end result is a fact. Most of the rest particularly why any of those occurred is pure speculation. Except for the small amount of information provided by the interim report.

It points to unspecified human factors and a specific error in perception.

Understanding how and why this error occurred is the main focus of thier investigation.
At this point there is very little else to go on.

Some years ago I had the opertunty to learn about accident investigation from ABS,
The first thing I learned. When there is an accident the last person you want to send to investigate is the guy who knows what happened.

Fortunately Norway has a long tradition of putting rehabilitation ahead of revenge in its legal system. Arresting, charging and prosecution is very unlikely to determine anything of much use other than the question of guilt or innocence with a heavyweight on innocence.

Why not trust the experts on accident investigation to figure it out?


I do not see any harm in speculating what went wrong, and what could have been done better. Important is to have respect for our colleagues, and remember that next time it can be us.

I myself have done many departures from Sture as Captain on similar ships, so the procedures I know, what can be the changing factor is the human elements that are provided. Not all officers and ratings are trained to the same standard.

One thing that could have improved the safety was to implement only daylight arrivals and departures from the terminal.

They should add to the Terminal Guidelines the possible presence of high-speed naval ships undetectable on AIS in the Hjeltefjorden.


Yes, it is very helpful to the local pilots.


And the rest of the bridge team :smiley:


No thing wrong with speculation.
Calling speculation fact is just a delusion.


The article struck me as dishonest. If the author is as informed and knowledgeable as you claim than he knows a rule-based analysis can hide more than it reveals.


That would make for some very hectic hours at this time of the year, with sun rise and sunset only a few hours apart. No problem in the summer months though.

Remember that the Sture traffic is in addition to the regular flow of traffic along the inshore coastal route. There are also Mongstad Refinery and base, CCB Aagotnes offshore base and Hanoytangen rig repair yard in the vicinity, adding to the traffic in the Fedje VTS area, year around.

In the summer you also have several large Cruise ships to/from Bergen and the Sognefjord entering and leaving through Fedjeosen every day/night. (Aka floating shopping malls with hotel facilities)


Now in the winter they have about 6 hours of daylight, and Sture about 120 vessles oil/gas a year. They should be able to take 1 in 1 out a day(at least). The question is how far are they willing to go for safety.


Sunrise and sunset for Fedje today:
Tables for Dec. below.

Yes there are some hours of daylight and if only Sture is affected it could be done.

But it is a question of risk vs. cost. Would daylight make that much difference when you consider the means available on ships today?

What is the probability of an accident like this happen again? Hopefully changes will be made to the routines at VTS throughout Norway and on navy ships moving in Norwegian waters (regardless of nationality)


I am curious whether the HI had a state of the art Infrared optical system on board because for instance such systems are standard equipment on U.S. Navy surface warships. Short-Wave Infrared sensors can see through darkness, smoke and haze.

This is a very useful technology because ships will then be able to operate covertly by turning off their radars and using for instance their DAS IRST system for constant surveillance of the horizon. DAS IRST stands for
Distributed Aperture System Infrared Search and Track (DAS IRST).

With such a system in place the navigator(s) on board the HI should have had a perfect situational awareness without even using their radar(s).

Radars are “active” in that they send out a signal that informs anyone listening to the presence of the ship. An Infrared Search and Track system is “passive” in that it provides surveillance capability without sending any signal.




Fedje VTS is a place where the they allow navy vessels sailing without transmitting AIS signal, and apperently the VTS doesnt even monitor them.

I think my suggestion about daylight sailing only for oil tankers is perfectly possible, even if there are more than one terminal. The question is are they willing to accept the additional cost.


Why not turn your suggestion on its head? Instead of suggesting only daylight departures/arrivals for commercial vessels, enforce only daylight transits for naval vessels. That would have the same end result without affecting profitability.

Given what we already know about the incident, it is fair to say that the larger portion of blame will be apportioned to the HI. Therefore, why suggest a policy change that disproportionately affects the commercial sector?