Helge Ingstad set to be raised

Despite long delays due to weather, Norwegian Navy expects to raise sunken Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad this week, following which she will be transferred to a nearby naval base.

Helge Ingstad collided with a tanker off the Sture oil terminal on November 8th last year and, despite attempts to keep her afloat, she ultimately sank on a rocky, sloping seabed near shore. Salvage proved problematic, with a series of steel cables connected to shore eventually put in place to prevent her from sliding deeper into the water. One of the wire ropes parted and struck a small boat during operations, although luckily no-one was hurt.

Salvage operations over the past couple of weeks focused on removing weaponry and on installing several large chains underneath the hull. These will be used as lifting straps. Two large floating shearlegs will raise the frigate and place her on a semisubmersible barge for transport from the site.

Most of the frigate’s missiles and torpedoes have been removed for disposal. The torpedoes were considered too sensitive to relocate and were destroyed at a nearby site.

On-scene commander Captain Bengt Berdal said that the seawater activated batteries in the torpedoes that could react in contact with air. “Based on thorough professional assessments of the condition and alternatives, it was decided to detonate the torpedoes”, he said.

The Norwegian Navy does not yet know whether the $500m frigate can be repaired. She suffered extensive structural damage in the collision and by now the electronic and mechanical systems have been submerged for nearly three months.