In the early hours of Thursday 8 November, seven people were slightly injured after the Norwegian frigate 'KNM Helge Ingstad' collided with the Maltese-flagged oil tanker 'Sola TS' off Bergen, Norway. The warship sustained significant damage and sank a few days later.
In the preliminary report, the board reached an initial deduction that confusion on the frigate’s bridge during watch turnover was the approximate cause of the accident. But as it is clearly stated in the introduction of the report, the AIBN stresses that report is preliminary and that it may consequently contain some errors and inaccuracies.
When ‘KNM Helge Ingstad’ sailed southwards along Hjeltefjorden, the lights from the Sture terminal became visible, according to the report. At that time, ‘Sola TS’ was alongside at the terminal and the deck of the tanker was well-lit because she was preparing for departure.
Furthermore, the report indicates that at a distance it would be difficult to separate the lights on the tanker from the lights at the terminal. Also, the lights did not move as the tanker was still alongside quay. It is possible that these factors gave the crew on 'KNM Helge Ingstad' the impression that the lights belonged to a stationary object.
The preliminary assessment of the report from AIBN, is that the accident was not caused by any single act or event, but it can be explained by a series of interacting complex factors and circumstances. The investigation team is seeking to identify and understand these factors. So far, the AIBN has not seen any indication of technical systems not working as intended up until the time of the collision.
The AIBN preliminary report for further exploration: