SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 7 May 2021, Friday | النسخة العربية

‘Lack of Adequate Training’: Report Reprimands Norwegian Navy Over Loss of Frigate

The KNM Helge Ingstad crashed into an oil tanker and sank after NATO’s largest military drills in Norway, leaving a huge gap in the Norwegian Navy’s defence capability and a $600 million dent in the state coffers as well as becoming a major stain on its reputation.

The Norwegian Navy has come under harsh criticism as the Accident Investigation Board in its second report on the collision concluded that the embarrassing loss of the KNM Helge Ingstad frigate could have been avoided.

The report noted that the navy failed provide the crew with a “good enough understanding to be able to handle the scenario they found themselves in on the night of the accident”.

“If the crew had been better trained, they would have had a better understanding of how to save the ship”, Dag Liseth of the commission’s maritime division told national broadcaster NRK.

According to the report, a timely shutdown could have hindered the capsizing.

“We’re talking about a military vessel that’s meant to tolerate a gash in its hull and damage from water pouring in. We must be able to expect that such a ship can be damaged but still function in a war operation”, Liseth ventured.

Instead, the ship was evacuated with doors and hatches left open as the crew considered that the intake of water was so extensive that the ship would be lost anyway. However, both the commission and a separate investigation by the Defence Ministry concluded that it remained theoretically possible to operate its machinery, which reflects a lack of adequate training. “They didn’t understand that various systems were still functioning”, Kristian Haugnes of the commission said.

At the same time, the commission concluded that its “most serious” findings are linked to the lack of training and instruction “at a higher level” than the crew on board the Helge Ingstad. This is despite the Norwegian Defence Ministry and Naval officials themselves having earlier praised the captain and crew for evacuating the vessel safely with no loss of life and only a few minor injuries to the 137-strong crew.

In its preliminary report, the commission identified a series of mistakes and misunderstandings on board the frigate, yet also found fault with maritime traffic operators.

The NOK 5 billion ($600 million) KNM Helge Ingstad crashed into a fully-laden oil tanker leaving an Equinor terminal northwest of Bergen after taking part in NATO’s largest exercise in Norway. The awkward sinking of the vessel and the subsequent salvaging saga is seen as one of the largest financial and reputational losses for the Norwegian military in the modern era. Norway lost one-fifth of its frigate capacity as the salvaged Helge Ingstad was stripped of equipment and towed to q scrapyard after less than a decade in service.

Despite the impact of the loss, most of the key figures, including Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen kept their posts.