The Norwegian frigate KNM Helge Instad is in danger of sinking after being rammed by an oil tanker while returning from the NATO Trident Juncture exercise, according to The Associated Press. Images posted by AP show the ship lying on its side in a small cove.
The ship, a Fridtjof Nansen-class vessel, was hit by the Maltese-flagged oil tanker Sola TS around 4 a.m. local time while docked in Sture, north of Bergen, on Norway’s western coast. Eight of the ship’s crew of 137 were injured, and two were taken to a nearby hospital, Rear. Adm. Nils Andreas Stensoenes, the head of the Royal Norwegian Navy, said Thursday during a news conference.
The tanker was not damaged, and its 23-strong crew remains onboard, according to AP.
Norwegian news agency NTB is reporting that the collision tore a hole in the frigate’s side, and that it is taking in more water than can be pumped out.
Stensoenes said the ship was “strongly listing" — or leaning to one side — and that it had been pushed by towboats into shallow water, where it cannot fully sink. He added that the cause of the accident was unclear. Both Norway’s Accident Investigation Board and Malta’s Marine Safety Investigation Unit will investigate the collision, as the tanker was registered in Malta.
The Helge Instad is 442 feet long and was built by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia in 2009. Norway has four other ships of the class in service, which are the Scandinavian nation’s largest naval ships. The ship had recently participated in the Trident Juncture exercise, one of NATO’s largest training events in recent years.