Norwegian Navy frigate ‘Helge Ingstad’ sinking - updated

Part 1 - Update
13 Nov

LATEST: The frigate "Helge Ingstad" has sunk.

Some of the wire mooring apparently broke overnight, resulting in the frigate ‘slipping’ further under the sea. Video (Norwegian Coastguard).

Any salvage operation is likely to be aesthetic in nature rather than sn trying to raise the wreck for parts.

Seawater damage will take its toll on machinery and equipment, especially the AEGIS radar system.
Likewise for the aviation fuel damage to ship and environment.

All of this because of an OOW bridge watchkeeper onboard lost total situational awareness (speed is a factor imho) in a head-on encounter with an Aframax tanker. The 3-way radio conversations is telling: listen here (with English subtitles).

Re the radio conversation: a short extract is presented here:

Sola TS calls the frigate to get ID
T: Is that you coming?
F:Yes that’s correct
T: Turn starboard immediately
F: Then we will too close to the obstacles.
T: Turn starboard if that’s you coming you have... (on tanker bridge in background another voice is heard in English: NOW!)

The bit underlined here is of interest, as it gives a hint of the navigational context. So here are electronic charts extracts of the area, to see the depth of the water and the obstacles.

The oil terminal is at the bottom, with some of the danger obstacles (note depth marked) highlighted in grey. ( The depth indicated is to the chart datum - the lowest depth [lowest astronomical tide]. Hence ordinarily there would be more clearance (under the keel). To note that the frigate had a draft of
7.6 m.

09 Nov

Source: Aftenposten

Someone has got some explaining to do. Here is the radar and radio log From VTS up to the collision and afterwards:" </div>">https://

Although the Helge Ingstad was not on AIS, the frigate is clearly seen on radar going southbound at approximately 17 knots.

The ‘Sola TS’ tanker is heard to ask what was the vessel that was approaching at 17 kts, VTS answers saying it could be ‘Helge Ingstad’. Sola TS then got onthe radio to get confirmation. The ‘Sola TS’ then hailed the frigate asking for 1. Course change starboard turn) then
2. a port-to-port passage. The frigate turned this down saying it was close to shore.

The ‘Sola TS’ stated over the radio that a collision is going to happen, telling the frigate to turn starboard. Short afterwards Sola TS confirmed that it had collided. Listening to the radio
communications, there seemed to be some uncertainty on the frigate bridge.

The lines projecting from the red marks show the headings.

From a mariner’s perspective, the golden rule is pass port to port. Clearly this wasn’t going to happen with the Helge Ingstad. But the Sola TS was big, the size of an aircraft carrier, and it is not as manoeuvrable as a CODAG powered frigate.

I can’t grasp the conversation, except for starboard being mentioned and VTS asking how many people were onboard on both vessels after the collision. VTS is speaking to the oil terminal pilot in this situation. Hence the slight delay in replying. Another point to make re pilots and foreign crews re bridge communications. The seconds add up.

In this situation, COLREGS apply, so I’m guessing that the frigate thought that the tanker would move out of the way. But the recording suggest (to me) some more inadequate radio procedure on the part of the frigate, to simply ask the tanker’s course intentions! Then take action to slow down and alter course in good time.

href=""> According to the Daily Mail, </a>Vessel Traffic Service (VTS who are tasked with monitoring and advising ships in their zone) called the frigate on VHF to warn them them that they were on a collision course with the tanker, Sola TS, who also apparently alerted the frigate.

The radio alerts were reported to be from from the Coastal Maritime Traffic Center Fedje VTS.

MIGHT is RIGHT. (As I outline further down in this article). This is also surmised by this thread.

This is beginning to have echoes of what happened to the USS Fitzgerald and the USS J McCain last summer.


Operations have started to secure the frigate to the land with attachment points welded to the hull with wires ashore. Once the frigate is secured, holes will be sealed. Afterwards the vessel will be sent to a naval base (on heavylift ship?)for repairs.

It does look like the frigate has gone further under the water though since yesterday. Details and latest photos (10 Nov update)

Part 2

Not looking good for #NorwayNavy frigate ‘Helge Ingstad’ (F313) which was sinking rapidly for a while (live on TV no less). Now seems to be grounded and with a potentially difficult salvage operation to get the frigate off safely (eventually).

Reports came in this morning on a collision between the frigate and an oil tanker in Western Norwegian waters not far from Bergen, close to Øygarden. The frigate was subsequently ran aground.

Video footage from Coastguard helicopter of grounded frigate. How long will the structure / keel hold in place?

Timeline of event: Sola TS AIS and Tenax tug.
The frigate ‘Helge Ingstad‘ did not activate AIS until after the collision. To note AIS is no substitute for COLREG application and prudent seamanship in any situation.

Just as well as Sola TS was only doing 5.7 -6 knots at time. The damage to the tanker was slight, with loss of anchor it seems judging by this photo.

Update: Norwegian navy reported in press conference that loss of propulsion and control was the result of the collision.

Yikes. Timing. At night, no AIS active on frigate, close proximity of major oil terminal, with lumbering laden tanker coming up from behind in narrow space. Not good at all.

A Aframax tanker:
Sola TS displaces more than a US Aircraft Carrier.”

Think about that for a minute.

AIS tracks

AIS show location and ships involved in the SAR ops. It also shows the Maltese-registered Aframax tanker involved, MV ‘Sola TS’ The ‘Helge Ingstad’ (F313) didn’t have AIS activated at time, judging by the straight line that goes over land. AIS was only after the collision. (Ermmmmm)...

The Tsakos tanker however did have AIS active all of the time, you can actually see the point where the incident happened.

The ‘Sola TS’ had a tug escort, the ‘Tenax’. Check out the AIS track:

So the Sola TS was more than likely to be under restricted ability to manoeuvre, with the appropriate lights on the mast to show (??!!!!!).

The rescue

Photos and video taken by the Norwegian SAR boats on scene show an orderly evacuation, with crew in their immersion suits and liferafts launched alongside the frigate down by the stern. One can only imagine if there were damage control teams trying valiantly to save their ship.

Frigate being deliberately grounded:

Photos of frigate aground with extensive damage (gash ripped out) to starboard quarter.⚠️

The consolation is no fatalities occurred but 8 injuries reported.

Live direct:

Shut-down of oil & gas infrastructure

The whole incident has taken on a greater dimension with shut-down of oil & gas ops: Expensively so.

Due to the location of the grounding, the nearby oil terminal operations were stopped at the Sture terminal.

Other oil and gas operations were also shut down in the area as a direct consequence of the frigate’s grounding. This includes oilfields apparently, back upstream from the terminal.

This is getting eye-wateringly expensive.

NATO exercise

This is rather unfortunate: last press release of Norwegian MoD as it took part in the recent massive NATO exercise Trident Juncture.


COLREG rules applied wrongly (??)Certainly too early to meaningfully speculate at any length this stage. BUT...

This is intriguing, what exactly was HNoMS ‘Helge Ingstad’ (no AIS) doing when a collision took place with the Sola TS oil tanker? The tanker had loaded & just departed the Sture terminal in Øygarden, and had a tug escort ‘Tenax’( standard procedure for oil terminal (un)docking. Presumably, this was announced on marine radio too.
(You can actually see the terminal behind the sinking frigate!!!!!).

None of the 625,000 barrels of crude oil onboard on the Sola TS has spilled. But there is evident oil spill (apparently 10000 litres of helicopter fuel) judging by this video still:

Talking about “sound navigational practice” (quoting US Navy accident report).

Getting hit starboard side not auspicious start. A naval bridge has far more people on duty than a commercial tanker, (which if fully loaded) would have been ‘restricted in ability to manoeuvre’ especially in a channel. Certainly so compared to a 5,290 ton CODAG (diesel & gas turbined) frigate. The only case I can think of is if the frigate was under RAM or NUC (Not under Command) too or at anchor.

Just the simple fact of anchoring off or even exercising in the close vicinity of an oil terminal would in my book a rather dim thing to do (for any mariner).

Big ships will not stop so quickly if the ‘Helge Ingstad‘ had power failure and was close ahead. You can actually see on AIS how long it took to slow down.

Big ships do not turn or stop very well, especially laden and especially with a tug attached. That’s a 3 ship accident.
Low speed of tanker ( AIS show between 5 and 7kts just after collision) means the lower speed they travel, the less manoeuvrable they are due to the effects of propeller wash against the rudder.

What is plenty of underwater hull clearance for a frigate isn’t the same as for an Aframax tanker, where it was roughly twice that of the ‘Helge Ingstad‘. All of us little ship mariners have installed: big is mighty and give them a wide berth (especially with tug escorts attached to them!).

Everyone has radar, ECDIS and merchant ships like AIS. Awareness of big commercial operations off oil terminal usually dictates prudence, give wide berth and let the big ship pass. Wariness of movement and intentions is paramount.

There is some dumb stuff on social media putting foward Russian GPS jamming. Either they are totally misinformed or are being misleading in a crass way. This Twitter thread is useful to note:

“ GPS Jamming did not cause the collision of the #helgeingstad. Even if GPS was jammed, the Russians can't jam your eyeballs. Cyber is also highly unlikely, as all those steering systems will have a manual backup.“

Well 2 accident investigations have been opened, one civil and the other military. Plus the Maltese authorities for the ‘Sola TS’.

NSR Foreign flagged shipping - no ban but business as usual

There is information on social media that says that a ban will come into force next force for foreign flagged shipping in using the NSR.

What future blanket ban on the NSR? It seems there is some great deal of confusion on the details of this issue.

It would be akin to shooting oneself in the foot. You either want to the business to flow or cut down an increasingly growing market. I’m sure that the Chinese would have something to say too. But oddly, everyone is carrying on as normal.

A blanket ban would be in my opinion hilarious bad news because it would conflict with the UNCLOS rules on navigation and impact on all of the Yamal LNG carriers that are all foreign flagged!

One of the reasons for these ships being flagged elsewhere is to facilitate the LNG shipments, in an environment that is greatly affected by sanctions! Absurdly as it seems, but reflagging the LNG tankers has helped greatly in boosting the LNG cargo throughput to a staggering 1.26 million of LNG in the first 4 months of 2017. This will substantially increase the figures up from a total 7.5 million tonnes (all cargoes) in 2016.

Last year, President Putin had proposed that ships under the Russian flag are given the exclusive right to transport oil and gas along the NSR. This was widely reported in industry media. Ironically, not long after this announcement, the Christophe de Margerie actually reflagged to the Cypriot register.

The proposed bill was considered by the Duma and a law drafted a month later. It entered into force on 1 February 2018. This could have serious repercussions to future shipping due to the implementation of Western sanctions. But it won’t affect those foreign-flagged ships currently in operation since the law has a loophole specially for Yamal LNG operations. The exception is for Novatek and the fleet of 15 LNG tankers.

It would contradict what President Putin said in a speech last March, where the goal of the NSR is to be a ‘truly global, competitive transport artery.”

The carriage of oil and gas represents a significant proportion of the shipping along part of the NSR.

More information later in the day, once I’ve pulled more elements together.

Med maritime collision

Previously there was the insane 2 plane crash at Khartoum (See earlier post).

Now we have the potential award for stupidest maritime collision of the year in the Western Med off Corsica. A Tunisian flagged ferry T-boned another vessel at 19 knots on Sunday.

“The #Ulysse left #Genoa and crashed into the anchored #CSLVirginia, going at a speed of 19 knots.”

(Yes read that correctly -anchored)

Here is the video replay of the AIS track:

The old adage of looking out of the bridge comes in handy if it wasn’t poor visibility. Reports state the incident apparently occurred in fair weather.

I mean, let’s put the ship on autopilot to destination, let’s take a peek at the radar (not) switching off all of the bridge equipment alarms????? (doing some paperwork?).

Did anyone call on Channel 16?

Mind boggles...

At least the collision bulkhead came in handy for the ferry.

Counter pollution measures have been activated by France, Monaco and Italy. Bunker fuels from one or both vessels.

I shall be awaiting the accident report with interest. The last one I read was equally intriguing account of a total bridge SNAFU off Greenland, resulting in the vessel precariously on top of a rock at low tide.

Tugs are in attendance:

Tunisian flagged - um. That reminds me of the Egyptian marine pilot. That’s another story.


5 days later, still no sign of being prised apart.

UPDATE 13th October

French authorities released a series of photos.

I take back the comment about the collision bulkhead. Seems to be intact.

I admit. This is something we did in our first radar simulator session at the maritime faculty, in the pre-digital days (so not screen to look out or ARPA or ECDIS or AIS screens),thus replicating foggy conditions. The instructor was not best pleased with our efforts with the chinograph pencil either - (someone drew mickey mouse).

Russian Submarine - Naval flags and US idiots

There’s a round of tweets mostly the US from commenting on an image of a Russian submarine flying two flags.

Russia’s second Severodvinsk-class submarine K-561 Kazan , which is a modified Project 08851 Yasen-M design, went to sea for the first time for builder’s trials on September 24.”

Some are trying trying to show off a couple of neurons while some are just hilarious.

Flying pre-2001 Russian Navy flags? Likely a 20-yr old picture.”

Who needs Wikipedia or experts these days. Any goes and the gossip goes round in ever decreasing circles.

I mean:

Well that reminds me of a 2004 song:

4 Oct 2018 Eastern Mediterranean Naval activities

All information based on OSINT and media sources, showing last reported position and activity.

Fort Russ you’re STILL WRONG

The US carrier USS Harry Truman is in the Channel. Not where near the Mediterranean! See below for location.

The “Severomorsk" made a portcall to the Seychelles recently.

Just in case you were wondering where is that US carrier, USS Harry Truman (hint not in Mediterranean)


The USS Essex recently got the limelight as F-35Bs deployed from this ship carried out the first-ever airstrike in Afghanistan by this particular type of aircraft. 

Arctic memorial to WWII minesweeper crews

Translated (yandex) from RIA Novosti article.

A little bit on the unknown history of the Great Patriotic War on the seas above the Arctic Circle.

Adds a little more knowledge to my general interest in the Arctic Convoys.

MURMANSK, October 3 – RIA Novosti. The consecration ceremony of the monument to the minesweeper trawler crews, who died heroically in the defense of the Arctic convoys in August and September 1944, took place on Wednesday in the Northern town of Dixon (the Taimyr Peninsula)in Russia. Journalists were informed of this by captain 1st rank Vadim Serga, the head of the press service of the Northern fleet.

The monument was erected by the sailors of the Arctic group of the Northern fleet jointly with the town administration of Dixon, on the initiative of the crew of the minesweeper "Vladimir Gumanenko". Serga said:"There is an anchor of a minesweeper, set on a stone pedestal with a sign.”

According to him, the consecration ceremony was attended by the representatives of the Northern fleet ships’ crews, while carrying out regular expedition tasks. The ceremony was led by commander – rear-Admiral Alexander Puchkovym, the leadership and residents of Dixon. A remembrance service was held afterwards in the‘Holy Trinity’ church, for the defenders of the Fatherland who perished in the great Patriotic war.

Members of the Northern fleet are taking part in the installation and renovation of military monuments in the Arctic. In August 2015 during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Dixon,Northern fleet ship crews helped the local residents with repairing a memorial "Fraternal grave of the seven heroes- Northern sailors" and a monument to the Arctic Explorer Nikifor Begichev. During a recent expedition to Novaya Zemlya, the Northern fleet also found and recovered a number of memorials to the explorers and defenders of the Russian Arctic.

Minesweepers T-114 and T-118 provided the demining escort of convoy DB-5 between the ports of Severodvinsk and Dixon. On the 12 August 1944 they, along with the transport, "Marina Raskova", onboard were 417 people (crew and passengers, including 116 women and 20 children), were sunk in the Kara sea by the German submarine U-365.

Minesweeper T-120 was lost on the 24 September 1944 in the Kara sea, providing convoy escort to VD-1. It was twice torpedoed by the German submarine U-739.

A day earlier, the crew of another Nazi submarine U-957 sank the patrol ship "Diamond", which took the brunt of the torpedoes, protecting the largest ship of the convoy – the transport "Revolutionary". In the end, the convoy arrived at its destination without losing any cargo ships. Minesweeper T-120 was the last loss of the Northern fleet from the actions of German submarines in the Arctic during the great Patriotic war.

РИА Новости

French Navy ‘Rhône’ historic Arctic transit

News from the NSR

The French Navy’s auxiliary ship Loire-class ‘Rhône’ (A603) has recently transited the Arctic Ocean, partially through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) eastbound for the first time since the 2nd World War. This Tweet celebrates this historic journey.

Starting from Tromsø in Norway on 1st September, the ‘Rhône’ passed through the Bering Strait on 17 September and later reached Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, as this AIS track shows. Later it went to Esquimalt in Canada, en route south towards the Panama Canal.

Due to the minimum coverage of multi-year sea-ice at this time of year, the ‘Rhône’ did not require a icebreaker escort on, even though it encountered the edge of ice cover on its last leg along the eastern NSR.

The NSR goes through sea areas with entirely different legal regimes, which have been established, among other things, by the 1982 Convention: internal waters, 12-mile territorial sea, 24-mile contiguous zone and 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation.

Most of the NSR route taken by the ‘Rhône’ is outside Russian 12 nm territorial waters, except for the narrow straits. The ‘Rhône’ went through the 50-km wide Sannikov Strait that connects the Laptev Sea in the west with the East Siberian Sea in the east. Generally, Russia does apply stricter navigation regulations along the NSR route, which is adminstered by the NSR Administration. The legal aspects and discussions are explained in this article. Diplomatically, the ‘Rhône’ would have obtained clearance to sail through the NSR.

The stricter navigational rules are largely based on the provisions of Article 234 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982), (UNCLOS).

The Commanding officer of the ‘Rhône’, Philippe Guéna, said that ‘Rhône’ was capable of navigating in polar regions, provided that it is limited to "open waters" (waters where the concentration of ice does not exceed 10% as defined in the IMO Polar Code). He further added that this stipulation was essential “for us and was respected”.

The mission of the BSAH Rhône was outlined by the General Staff of the Armed Forces [EMA in French]:

"Strengthening the expertise of the Navy's crews to navigate and operate in the Arctic zone, this type of deployment increases the meteorological and oceanographic knowledge of the areas voyaged,”

This isn’t surprising in the least, given France’s interests in the Polar regions, having observer status at the Arctic Council since 2000. Also bearing in mind that the Arctic is of increasing interest to non Arctic-rim NATO members. A glimpse into this insight here.

Known as a BSAH, a deep sea support and assistance vessel, the ‘Rhône’ was accepted into French naval service in July. (Note, it has a role and mission profile which would be considered as a Coastguard role in other countries).

Length:70.3 meters, width 15.8 meters, draft: 5 meters, full load displacement: 2700 tons. 17 crew. 30-day autonomy.

The BSAH ‘Rhône’ also crossed paths with the ‘Venta Maersk’.

Insane aviators

Part 1 Khartoum airport

Sudan Air Force AN 30 & AN 32, both crashed while landing at Khartoum airport which resulted in closure of airport.

2 plane accident on runway

This has to be the looniest plane accident.

Ok two fighters can simultaneously take off but simultaneously landing of transport planes?

Part 2 Ukraine (?)

Somewhere in Syria, judging by the uniform or is it in Ukraine as some suggest?

Not if that beats the mad Libyan MIG video, at least there weren’t planes on the ground.

Or even pulling off this stunt in on something way way bigger in Ukraine:

(One of the videos in comments)

Russian MoD briefing on 17 Sept

Run-down of events: RT article

RT report summarises the briefing well.

Russian MoD spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov gave a detailed account of the Israeli air strikes and event leading up to the shooting down of the Il-20 ELINT aircraft, (video with English subtitles provided in link).  He called such actions "a clear violation of the 2015 Russian-Israeli agreements."

Konashenkov stated that the Israeli AF provided late-minute misleading information. 

21:39 -21:42 Moscow time

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