This post was updated with additional photos from the Royal Norwegian Navy.
A warship is grounded at the edge of a fjord near the southwest coast of Norway after an early morning collision with an oil tanker on Thursday, NATO officials said.
Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad (F313) collided with the Malta-flagged oil tanker Sola TS at around 4 a.m. local time on Thursday (10 p.m. EST Wednesday) near the Equinor’s Sture oil terminal. The collision resulted in eight minor injuries on the warship.
Officials now are racing to save Helge Ingstad from sinking into the deep water just off the rocky edge of the fjord, after tugs pushed the 5,0000-ton frigate ashore to prevent the ship from sinking while the crew of 137 was evacuated.
According to a video released from the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the ship was listing on the rocks on its starboard side with its stern low in the water and surrounded by tugs. Photos released by the Norwegian Navy show a long gouge from amidship along the starboard quarter of the frigate.
“The Norwegian Armed Forces are working with the Norwegian Coastal Authority to address the situation,” read a statement from NATO Allied Maritime Command.
The frigate was conducting navigation training with other elements of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 in the fjord following the Nov. 7 conclusion of the Trident Juncture 2018 exercise, NATO said. Helga Ingstad collided with the fully loaded Sola TS just after the tanker had departed the oil terminal. Ships from the group remain nearby to support the recovery efforts as needed, NATO said.
The U.S. amphibious warship USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) is also operating nearby off the coast of Norway. So far, the U.S. Navy has not been asked to assist in the recovery efforts, U.S. Naval Forces Europe spokesman Capt. John Perkins told USNI News on Thursday morning.
While the circumstances around the Thursday collision are still unclear, the incident is reminiscent of two 2017 fatal collisions between two U.S. guided-missile destroyers and merchant ships in the western Pacific.
Without placing blame in the Thursday collision, the increased operational tempo of warships in general are pushing navies around the world harder and adding stress to operations, Eric Wertheim, author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets, told USNI News on Thursday.
“As you get ops tempo increasing, navies are going to be stressed. It’s not just the U.S.,” Werthheim said.
“The more you drive your ships, the more you’re going to have accidents.”