The collision with an oil tanker early Thursday morning happened just north of Bergen.
The crew of 137 are all evacuated from KNM Helge Ingstad, the Joint Rescue Coordination Center of Southern Norway informs. Eight of the crew members have minor injuries, but are all safe, the Norwegian Navy informed at a press conference.
The frigate is taking on lots of water, nearly to the point of capsizing, and the danger of sinking is acute.
Weather in the area is good and the frigate is on ground just by the shore. Like other naval vessels on duty, the frigate carries weapons, like missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.
The Aframax tanker Sola TS, is not in danger and no oil spill is reported from the tanker. There are some 625,000 barrels of crude oil on board.
The collision occurred just after 4 AM Norwegian time, as the frigate was en route back to Haakonsvern naval base near Bergen (southwest Norway) after participating in the NATO exercise Trident Juncture. The exercise ended on November 7th.
At the time of collision, it was still dark.
KNM Helge Ingstad (F313) is one of the Norwegian navy’s five frigates of the Fridtjof Nansen class. The warship was launched in November 2007. The 134-meter-long vessel weighs 5,290 tons with a full load. The ship is named after the famous Norwegian Arctic explorer, like the other four frigates in the Norwegian navy.
Last year, KNM Helge Ingstad sailed the waters at Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic and made a port call to Longyearbyen. The ship has also been along the coast of Finnmark (Norwegian Arctic mainland) on several voyages in the Barents Sea.
In 2011, KNM Helge Ingstad made a port call to Severomorsk, the main base of Russia’s Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula (northwest).
The tanker Sola TS was sailing from the oil terminal Sture (southwest Norway).
Equinor, which operates the terminal, informs that operations at the terminal are now shut down in accordance with standard security procedures and the only workers still at the terminal are there to maintain safety.
Information about the cause of the collision has yet to be made public. Occurring just outside Sture oil terminal, the accident raises a lot of questions. Here, the shipping is strictly controlled and oil tankers leaving the port are always followed by tugs and pilot.
A third vessel, a tug following the tanker, was near, but not directly involved in the collision.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Canada’s transportation safety board to investigate passenger ship grounding in Arctic, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: NATO sending more warships to Northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Russia’s only aircraft carrier damaged as floating dock sinks, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Oil spill cleanup ongoing in Sweden after freighter runs aground, Radio Sweden
United States: U.S. Congress authorizes six icebreakers in Pentagon bill, Alaska Public Media