Status for the investigation of the collision involving the frigate HNOMS Helge Ingstad and oil tanker Sola TS 16.11.2018

On the morning of Thursday 8 November 2018, the Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN) was informed that the frigate HNOMS Helge Ingstad and the Maltese registered tanker Sola TS had collided just outside the Sture terminal in Øygarden municipality in Hordaland county. The AIBN contacted the Defence Accident Investigation Board Norway (DAIBN) and the Marine Safety Investigation Unit of Malta. A joint decision was made to initiate an investigation of the accident, which will be led by the AIBN.

Over the course of the afternoon and evening of 8 November, 14 people from the AIBN and DAIBN arrived in Bergen to start the investigation.

The main tasks so far have been to inspect the tanker Sola TS, interview the operative crew from both vessels, obtain AIS and radar data from the Norwegian Coastal Administration, and collect and retrieve data from the VDR on board Sola TS. Several coordination meetings were held between the Norwegian Navy, the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency’s maritime capacities and the police. Data from the bridge of HNOMS Helge Ingstad has also been retrieved and secured.

The AIBN has started work on compiling the information it has collected to establish the sequence of events. This will help to provide answers to what happened, how it happened and who was involved, as well as the circumstances surrounding the accident. It is too early to give any details in this respect. Further interviews are currently being planned, as well as an inspection of a moored frigate.

The Norwegian Navy has informed the AIBN that it will open an internal investigation of the accident. The results of the internal investigation will be shared with the AIBN and may make positive contributions to our investigation of the accident.

The accident has received wide media coverage. It is important for the AIBN to point out that the purpose of the investigation is to map a complete sequence of events that includes all parties involved in the accident, and to map factors at all levels that may have contributed to the accident occurring and to the resulting damage. The investigation will not apportion blame and/or liability under criminal or civil law. Based on the investigation, the AIBN will determine whether there is a need to propose safety recommendations for the purpose of improving marine safety for shipping or military purposes or for society at large. This was a complicated accident, and the investigation will therefore make great demands in terms of time and resources from several parties.

The AIBN, DAIBN and the Marine Safety Investigation Unit of Malta are all independent public investigation authorities. If the investigation does not conclude in a final report within 12 months, the AIBN will publish a preliminary report. Any safety-critical findings identified before the report has been published will be shared with the relevant organisations and authorities as they become available.

The parties involved have been very cooperative, and the AIBN has given the investigation top priority.

Any updates on the status of the investigation will be published on the AIBN’s website.

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