Norwegian submarine-hunting frigate rammed by Maltese oil tanker

The navy vessel was returning to port after participating in NATO exercises when it was hit by a tanker transporting crude oil to Britain. The frigate was later pushed aground to keep it from sinking.

The Norwegian frigate KNM Helge Ingstad was rammed by the Maltese oil tanker Sola TS off the western coast of Norway early Thursday morning. The collision tore a large hole in the hull of the frigate, which began taking on water and had to be pushed into shallow coastal waters by tugboats to keep it from sinking.

Some 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) of ship's fuel and helicopter fuel is reported to have leaked into the sea. The Helge Ingstad's 137 crew were evacuated. Eight of the crew sustained minor injuries in the incident. The cause of the accident is unclear.

Returning to port

The 134-meter-long (440 foot) frigate was returning to its home port of Haakonsvern, southwest of Bergen, when the incident occurred. It had recently taken part in NATO's large-scale Trident Juncture military exercises, where it was engaged in submarine hunting maneuvers.  

The 250-meter-long Sola TS is thought to have inadvertently rammed the navy vessel after departing the Sture oil and gas terminal near Oygarden. The Maltese-flagged ship was loaded with crude oil en route to Britain. The tanker, currently in port undergoing inspection, was not damaged in the incident and none of its 23 crew injured.

Nature and Environment | 18.10.2018

Oil production temporarily stopped

Production at a number of surrounding North Sea oil and gas facilities was temporarily stopped after the collision as a precautionary measure but has now resumed. The sites are operated by Equinor (formerly Statoil), one of the world's largest oil and gas companies.

There are no reports as to when the damaged navy vessel, which is part of NATO's Atlantic fleet, will be salvaged. The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board, the Defense Accident Investigation Board and the Maltese Marine Safety Investigation Unit are all investing the incident.

NATO Trident Juncture war games kick off in Norway

Massive NATO war games begin

NATO's "Trident Juncture," the largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War, launched in Norway on October 25 and is due to run until November 7. Some 50,000 troops are taking part in the exercises, including 24,000 navy personnel and 20,000 land forces.

NATO Trident Juncture war games kick off in Norway

Germany takes leading role

Germany is the second largest contributor to the NATO exercise, coming in behind the United States. Some 10,000 German troops are taking part, with German forces leading one of the land exercises. A total of 31 countries are participating in the exercises, including non-NATO members Finland and Sweden.

NATO Trident Juncture war games kick off in Norway

Thousands of military vehicles

NATO's "Trident Juncture" exercise will also see thousands of military vehicles put to use, including some 250 aircraft, 65 ships and over 10,000 vehicles. The United States' nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman will also be taking part.

NATO Trident Juncture war games kick off in Norway

Angering Russia

The scripted maneuvers during "Trident Juncture" are based on a hypothetical scenario where troops have to restore Norway's sovereignty following an attack by a "fictitious aggressor." Norway has grown increasingly nervous about neighboring Russia since it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. NATO's latest exercise has angered Moscow, which slammed it as an "anti-Russian" and "provocative."

NATO Trident Juncture war games kick off in Norway

Maps, meals and laundry

To help ensure that "sensitive areas" like hospitals, schools and drinking water sites aren't affected during the exercise, Norway printed 1.6 million maps for NATO troops to use. The Norwegian Armed Forces estimate 650 tons of laundry will be done during the exercise and some 1.8 million meals.

NATO Trident Juncture war games kick off in Norway

Complex operations on air, land and sea

The exercise area encompasses large areas of land, sea and air space — with naval operations stretching along the Norwegian coast and down to Scotland. The focus of the exercise will be on the land exercise in central Norway. Participating troops will be divided into northern and southern forces that will maneuver against one another.

js/aw (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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