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NATO Drills Fallout: Norwegian Frigate Is Pretty Much Toast

It is now almost completely submerged

The Royal Norwegian Navy's frigate Helge Ingstad has almost completely sunk in the waters near the Sture oil and gas terminal outside of Bergen Norway. Norwegian authorities insist they still intend to salvage the warship, which suffered serious damage and was intentionally ran aground after colliding with the oil tanker Sola on Nov. 8, 2018, but the vessel's future looks increasingly bleak.

On Nov. 13, 2018, Rear Admiral Nils Andreas Stensoenes, head of Norway's navy, disclosed that multiple steel wires anchoring the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate to the shore had snapped overnight. At present, only a portion of ship's main mast, which holds its advanced AN/SPY-1F radar, a key component of its version of the Aegis Combat System, along with a small portion of the rear superstructure, remain above the waterline. On Nov. 11, 2018, the Norwegian Armed Forces, or Forsvaret, had said the ship was "stable." Over the weekend, workers had also added two additional anchor wires between the vessel and the shore, for a total of seven.

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"It is too early to say what kind of damages there are," Commander Haavard Mathisen, a Royal Norwegian Navy spokesperson, also said on Nov. 13, 2018, referring to the possibility of any additional damage from the sinking. Underwater video cameras had previously been in place to monitor the exterior of the portions of Helge Ingstad that were underwater. Salvage ships and remotely-controlled small submersibles had also been inspecting the frigate and mapping the seabed where it was sitting.

If additional internal compartments are now waterlogged, it is almost certain that they will need significant and potentially expensive work to return them to operational status. This is on top of the necessary repairs to the ship's badly damaged hull and other portions of its exterior, which will also be very costly.

The Royal Norwegian Navy's plan remains to try and refloat the frigate and get it on board one or more barges from private maritime company BOA, which would then move the warship to Haakonsvern, the service's main base, which is relatively close to the accident site. There is still no firm timeline about when authorities may move the ship or when, and if, Helge Ingstad might return to active service. At this point, the salvage operation may simply be focused on removing a hazard to navigation in a heavily trafficked fjord with the secondary hope that it may be possible to recover various weapons, radars, and other military systems for future use. Now that the ship is entirely underwater, even that seems less promising.

The Forsvaret's decision to hire BOA, over competitor Ardent Global Marine Services, to lead the salvage operation has come under scrutiny, as well. Ardent Global says it made an offer, but that it was rejected for being too expensive, according to Norwegian outlet Another nearby firm, Sotra Anchor & Chain, has criticized the decision to use wires instead of chains to secure the frigate to the shore, saying that the latter is the international standard for holding large ships in place after an accident.

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Source: The Drive
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