Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

A lot of damage control issues similar to the loss of HMS Prince of Wales (1941). Unforeseen design issues only adding to the certainty of loss.


Wartime attack is different , but a better example of complete loss of ship when it shouldnt have happened would have been the ‘slow sinking’ of HMS Ark Royal after a survivable torpedo hit

dick van dyke

Can’t really see any similarities personally, HMS Prince Of Wales was bombed and Torpedoed repeatedly causing damage to vital systems which happens in War, this Frigate incident was more akin to a Carpark shunt.

Armchair Admiral

Wowser. That’s some damage and it’s no wonder there was considerable confusion. Dont nav radars have a “collision “ mode to warn the bridge crew that there is a risk of collision?


Only if you use them.

David Steeper

Sounds like one of the big lessons is prioritization. Systems can tell you you’ve got x number of problems but not how serious they are. Overall bloody sobering.


If you’ve just been hit by a tanker, leaving a gaping hole in your ship, and you need a computer to tell you which problem to prioritize, I think you have identified your biggest problem right there.

Andrew Wilde

Damage Control HQ in the MCR, sounds comfy. Surely there must have been damage control parties fore and aft but the lack of control of watertight openings in a flood makes you wonder if the crew knew how to fight the ship in such circumstances.


Lucky really. No explosions ect, oil tanker colliding wish a ship full of bang pop wizz things..

Are they building replacement? Or have they? Maybe we can build a couple type 31s for them..they are a key Nato nation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cammy
Paul T

There is no sign of a replacement so far – ,a few options exist off the top of my head,bearing in mind the origin of the lost Frigate (1) Replace her with an existing Spanish F100 class,with Spain building an extra F110 Hull to compensate,(2) Norway replacing her with a single F110 when Spanish production enables (3) Australia offering a Hobart class as a replacement and building an extra T26 Hunter Class to compensate,and finally (4) Norway waits for the replacement Class to the Fridtjof Nansen for a solution but with a 20% reduction in Frigate strength can they wait that long ?.,obviously option 3 is very unlikely .


Yeah Option 3 is very unlikely and all are probably to be fair. Norway’s prob just going to save the money and start the ball rolling on the Next gen replacement,
But What about a type 23 in mean time? Montrose?.
And Ok maybe they wouldn’t want a type 31 with it being far less capable but building two might make up for that. It’s a shame we can’t get orders in to build type 31s in UK dozens of nations need large Frigates and how come other European nations can and do get orders?
When was the last time USA built warships for foreign Navys? Not including all the Frigates they did give away or sold cheap.

Paul T

A stopgap solution might be another option but neither a Type 23 hand me down or a New Type 31 have absolutely nothing in common with their existing Frigates so in Operational/Training Terms with costs etc i don’t think that is likely either.


Clearly the training problems indicate a replacement ship of a different type is totally out of the question and in a way one less ship to man ‘solves’ the training problem in a different way.
The early hours of the morning- like for the US destroyers- was used to put inexperienced crew in charge, when the the actual circumstances of confined waters or heavy traffic required the captain and more senior crew to be on hand. But they wanted to have a good sleep before arriving at port around daybreak


Type 31 isn’t intrinsically less capable. It depends entirely on how the customer specs it.


We’re going to have enough trouble building our own T31, never mind anyone elses.

“When was the last time USA built warships for foreign Navys?”

 The 70s and 80s.

Kidd class for Iran (never delivered, added to USN, ended up in Taiwan)
FFG7 design for build in Australia (six ships)

That’s about it. Prior to that, some Knox knockoffs for Spain and some Adams class for Australia / Germany.


Australia only built a second batch of 2 FFG ships in its own Williamstown dockyard. The first 4 came from the US shipyard – Todd Seattle.

The Israeli Sa’ar 5 class corvettes (1275 tonnes) were built in US by Ingalls ( probably to qualify for the US to pay the cost as part of the military aid), which were launched early 90s
One was hit by an Hezbollah missile ( copy of C-802) off Beirut, and like Ingstad crew had done things they shouldnt


To my understanding, Norway Navy was NOT fully manning its 5 frigates. So the loss of one hull may not be a big problem, at least for peacetime tasks, I guess?

But, this will make the frigates worn-out faster than planned. Also, wartime surge capability is reduced. As introducing another class of frigate is surely not easy, supplementing capability might work.

As Nansen-class’s primary task was for ASW. So, a fleet of UAVs for ASW, controlled from land, will be a good option. With deep fjord, such a system will make a good addition, I guess?

Last edited 2 years ago by donald_of_tokyo
Phillip Johnson

Your understanding is correct. The RNoN base problem was lack of enough experienced people. That is pretty much all it takes.


Norway ( plus Denmark) recently entered into European Corvette Project.


I would have loved to illegally dive this ship, it couldn’t have been in a more handy place..


Arent there plenty of other ex navy ships sunk deliberately at the end off their life- in more salubrious waters- for explore-diving ?


In 35 degree water? I would pass on that one.

Mike O

A great article. It is sobering just how fragile modern warships are. I am interested in opinions, does anyone think we will ever see a resurgence in the large scale use of armour on warships?


Armour unlikely to help warships in collisions because of the way the outer hull armour was attached – literally hung on to the structural frame. This was against a loaded oil tanker which cant be ‘deflected’ away.
What would have helped was the underwater protection against torpedoes, multiple bulkheads and compartments in layers along the hull. But that was used for much wider vessels such battleships and larger carriers – to this day.
Very good reasons why armour isnt used anymore and even in its heyday wasnt of much thickness even in cruiser sized ships of 10-12,000 tons. Its a basic principle now the cost and weight is better put into sensors and self defence weapons

Last edited 2 years ago by Duker
Lou Coatney

Look at your County class heavy cruisers which looked rather like ocean liners and had lots of flotation thanks to their size, although not that much armo.r. Then look at your compact and Colony class light cruisers and our compact and Astoria class heavy cruisers … 3 of which sank like rocks after the Battle of Savo Island. (County class HMAS Canberra had to be scuttled by (another) U.S. torpedo, she was so reluctant to sink. See the excellent Australian book The Shame of Savo.)
Internal armor for critical internal areas, yes, but flotation and damage control … and immediate, provisional recovery from damage – repair – seem wiser.

I’m in Norway now, and excellent article about the Ingstad.

Photo: The cardstock paper models of Convoy PQ17’s Cruiser Covering Force I (have) designed and built, with a Brooklyn in the background. (Using my own comparatively fast/simple Naval Action naval miniatures rules, it is soon evident recalling the Force saved an Allied naval disaster, but the battleships should have been farther forward to make that unnecessary.

Phillip Johnson

The county class had a lot of reserve bouyancy but were very doubtful combat vessels. Given that they were built right up to the 10,000 ton treaty limit, the only real ‘fitted’ armour was around the magazines. Some were retrofitted with side armour in the 1930’s but war interviened before the program got very far. Most counties, including Canberra went to war with nothing more than the hull skin protecting the machinery spaces. The counties were a petty good early example of ‘fitted for but not with’.
Canberra remain afloat after Savo Island but with no power and no prospect of any.

Steven Alfred Rake

What this report hit home is just how fragile a modern Frigate is, It is my belief that we need to start to armour our vessels as we have so few of them. The best way is to have a multi hulled vessel such as a trimaran with the 2 outer hulls armoured and having the inner hull for the crews quarters and sensitive parts of the vessel. By having a multi hulled design you can carry a lot more weight as it is spared over a larger surface area. I just do not believe that a modern Frigate/Destroyer will last long in a kinetic engagement and the 3 accidents mentioned in this report (1 Norwegian 2 American) just goes to show how quickly these modern vessels can be taken out of effective service.

Dogs Nads

BMT’s Pentamaran design was superior to the catamaran hull form.

But armour doesn’t save you from a collision with another ship…the briefest google search which find you all manner of WW2 Battleships, aircraft carriers, Heavy Cruisers with huge damage from collisions…If you hit a 5,500 tonne Frigate with a 112,000 tonne oil tanker a couple of hundred tonnes of armour will only make you sink faster…

Steven Alfred Rake

I looked at the BMT’s design and it dose indeed look good and ideal for a Frigate/Destroyer design. I also agree with being hit my a super tanker is not good for the health of the ship no matter what size of ship you are in. What I am saying is these investigations highlight the fragility of modern Frigates and Destroyers. In an environment were you have a surplus of incoming I believe that an armoured vessel would be able to stay on station a lot longer that the present designs at sea today.


It has been known since Titanic. In order to prevent damages like these (which are very similar), one needs longitudal watertight bulkhead as damages are potentially likely to penetrate several bulkhead sections.


1.I understand that it is RN practice to install the main cable runs along the inside of their ships’ hulls as opposed to down, or near to, the centre of the ship. It is clear from what happened to Hinge that such a practice makes a warship even more vulnerable if damaged in collision or by an attack. 2. AIS, if used, should have given warning of collision. 3.Navigational radar can alos be set up with a guard zone but that may have been impractical in the confined waters of the fjord.

Supportive Bloke

So the nexus of this report is that if you have a big hole in a warship and fail to deal with the hole or then fail to shut the watertight doors the ship sinks?

I’m sort of wondering what damage control drills were done and how effective they were?

Damage control 101: limit extent of flooding by shutting watertight doors. Access areas vertically…….not horizontally…….unless re-closing doors in sequence. Sound familiar anyone?

Serious management failures post collision.

And OMG the navigational failings. Let’s be honest a warship was being navigated like a week charter yacht.

None of this would have happened if the bridge team was a competent bridge team.


Big holes sink ships. Especially when watertight compartments aren’t closed.

Supportive Bloke

Yes, I am sure I was taught that somewhere?


Yes for me the human factors were what did it. A bridge team of the most junior officer with a side helping of people in training, navigating a busy sea lane, in restricted water at night is sort of asking for a f**kup of epic proportions.

The issue is actually a universal story, of systems that can at any time suffer a critical, catastrophe and life threatening event insists on the least qualified and experienced people working and leading night shifts, as the most experienced individuals sleep away. We do it everywhere, from the police, fire service to ED departments.


It was not a busy lane. A watch commander shall by definition be competent, and any junior officer if competent should easily be able to handle anything navigational in that situation.


Ships float courtesy of Mr Archimedes and stay upright courtesy of positive righting moments based on metacentric height. Letting large amounts of water into the ship compromises both, particularly away from midships.

It’s not a question of “fragility” or lack of survivability compared to weapon damage. The damaged length is well in excess of what you’d expect a medium weight ASM to inflict. Simple fact is that opening something like 20% of your length to the sea, having a largely off-watch and sleeping crew with only ten minutes to save the ship, coupled with power failure – and more importantly, associated re-start/re-boot time for systems – is not going to end well.

Moral of the story? Don’t hit things at sea – and if you’re in a position where you might, keep a decent-sized DC party on watch.

Always ensure that your critical systems have a UPS and that when you check the stability in your fancy CAD model, make sure that the model represents the actual ship. Assumption being the mother and father of Captain Cockup.

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B

Absolutely on point!


Let me understand these first points: Operating at 17-18 knots without nav radar and with an inexperienced bridge crew…in the pre-dawn hours.

Last edited 2 years ago by DaSaint

You forgot “in a commercial shipping lane, in a Fjord”. Also important factors when it comes to increasing the risks of collision…


Very important factors Joe16. Very important indeed!


The traffic is far from heavy and is very manageable in that area, and it was so during the incident. The conditions were not such that a radar is a necessity for navigation, given that both the navigators had the full picture before the incident.

But they didn’t have that, thus a modern radar operated by competent navigators would/should have been the obvious tool to obtain a proper understanding of the situation. Both navigators are obliged to ensure a proper understanding of the navigational situation, and it is a failure by both when none of them had that understanding.


Interesting that the legendary FOST doesn’t seem to train crews to deal with heavy/catastrophic damage such as this. I know it’s easy with 20/20 hindsight to look back and question this, but ultimately this kind of training is applicable to peacetime accidents (such as this) and wartime action, and so is far more likely to occur in the grand scheme of things.
Hopefully the changes mentioned at the end of the article will address that.


Not sure there’s anything a FOST type organisation could do. Once the big hole was in the ship, you’re basically dependent on swiftly closing all WT doors and hatches to limit extent of flooding. Which theoretically is easy.

Trouble is, you’ve got what sounds like a minimal DC party on watch, the vast majority of the ships company in their racks, asleep – some of whom were in the damaged area, power blackout – and probably IPMS drop out too.

Whoever the poor b8gger in HQ1 was, they probably had the best part of two minutes max to find out what the damage state of the ship was and make a decision as to whether to close off the WT doors and hatches aft, knowing that the berthing compartments were full of people trying to get dressed and get to their stations and closing up would probably kill some of them.

It’s very hard to get in that mindset in the middle of the night on what would appear to have been a routine trip back to port. Not sure any particular FOST training would have helped with that. It does suggest a need for more resilient surveillance systems and an adjusted watchkeeping bill though.

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B

Very fair point, they didn’t have a lot of time before they hit the shore. I may have mis-read the article, but I thought they had rather more time after that point, when they could have saved the ship from sinking with proper damage control- maybe the timeline is more compressed than I thought.
You’re right though, although all collisions should obviously be avoided, this one was certainly avoidable if proper assessment of the situation had been taken in the first place.


FOST does train for major system failures post damage.
An old favourite was a Sink The Sheffield scenario with loss of major systems, firemain needing a temp firemain and pump to be rigged, evacuation of the internal areas to the upper deck, reentry into the ship and then fighting from aft to fwd compartment by compartment to get the ship back.

Post the Nottingham incident that scenario was run.

Reading the report its shocking that the Norwegian Navy was so poor with regards to bridge watch keeping. The RN would have had 2 nav radars on and possibly the surface search radar, along with AIS in receive mode. WECDIS, the electronic chart system with inputs integrated into if from AIS and nav radar would be providing warnings to the bridge crew. The warnings are CPA, nav hazards, underwater hazards…. WECDIS has a really annoying alarm for a reason… You need to accept the alarm and acknoledege the warning. The Ops Room would also be providing blind safety/pilotage as well.

Regarding Damage Control, the RN is really really good at it because it’s had plenty of opportunities for lessons Learnt. The DC kit is good and the people using it are equally as adept. I speak as an ex NBCDQ!


Sounds like pretty intense scenarios are run then, which is good! Being an NBCDQ, I presume you’d have had a hand in coming up with the training on board and stuff like that?
While never having served, I’ve had to do a few hostile environment courses for work which are often run by veterans. They seemed to enjoy throwing in hidden bits to trip you up and make you think, on everything from trauma care to navigation. Not sure if that approach is across the board or not, but it certainly made for some memorable lessons learned. Or maybe it was just to beast some civvies a little bit!


It did make me wonder whether if the balloon went up and they were part of a group they could be trusted.

Last edited 2 years ago by X
Dogs Nads

It’s a wonder why they didn’t attempt to use the EO system as well when running down the fjord…


I do understand the confusion by the Frigates crew post incident in the dead of night as we had a similar rude awaking when Achilles struck a super tanker in the Channel. If the initial impact is not enough to alert you from sleep the awkward angle of heel surely does. Damage to Achilles was limited to bow section (bloody nose)and internally the hawser compartment, paint locker and a few egos on the bridge. Communication, Propulsion and Steerage were all maintained and shoring of the collision bulkhead prevented any serious ingress of water. Considering it was mid 70’s I think we did ok. It would appear from your report these sailors were confronted with multiple systems failure and flooding from gashes in the starboard hull. A miracle no-one was seriously injured.


Sleep got little to do with it, incompetence and extremely poor bridge routines are the key factors. Structurally proper and formal handover between officers will ensure continuity in the understanding of anything of significance to the safe navigation of the vessel.

The failure to understand the nautical and operational situation, the failure to identify obvious objects, and the failure to take proper actions in order to immediately rectify the situation is evidence of the problematic side of simulator training being considered as experience and not training.

The brain doesn’t alway connect what happens in a simulator with identical or similar situations at sea, and therefore would not trigger the same reaction.

The traffic was low and virtually next to nothing compared with The English Channel and entrances to Antwerp and Rotterdam and the crossings which is normal to the English ports in the entire traffic separation zone.

A truly embarrassing incident on the account of the Norwegian Navy and their naval officers, and it was made worse by the failure by leading naval officers to immediately acknowledge the responsibility which is rather obvious to any competent navigator with experience.


I still fail to understand why a warship (or indeed any ship) would be doing 18 knots in a known shipping lane with both AIS & nav radar turned off, in the dark. It’s not as if the Sture oil terminal is a classified secret. This was in home waters as well, on the way home, so who was the frigate trying to hide from? If a modern frigate loaded with up to date sensors can’t tell a ship from an oil terminal, we are all wasting an awful lot of money. Yes, I know, they didn’t turn it on (why?). Good thing that the government stands the loss. If it was a commercial ship, I wouldn’t like your chances of a payout from the insurer. Perhaps the frigate needed a pilot of its own.


I think blaming the crew for not using Radar or AIS is a little shortsighted. In a war setting entering a port Radar and AIS would be off and the only way of practicing for that is to do it for real. It’s a ship of war not a Ferry. Experience seems to have been a bigger factor as with all accidents it’s never a single point of failure. The accident could just as easily be blamed on shore control that ‘forgot’ a ship was in his area of control. What turned this from a nightmare to a total disaster seems to have been not being able to understand what was going on in the damaged areas which ultimately lead to the loss because the captain believed it was already going to sink. I would imagine all Navy’s around the world will be looking at this report.


There are ways to run such test without compromising the results. You can run AIS in receive mode for example, but keep the data from the bridge crew (unless the bridge crew appear to be failing the test). You can likewise keep the navigation radar display from the bridge crew. You don’t run such a test without someone in the background to step in if needed. The Sture oil terminal is a well known fixed point. The fact that it is frequented by super tankers is also well known. If a ship is contacting you in such a scenario saying you are going to collide, wouldn’t you at least slow down? Turn on the nav radar? Check out AIS? These are not fishing boats. We are talking 100k tons +. The reasons for the ship sinking & the reasons for the collision are two separate but related lessons that more than a few navies need to pay attention to.


Binoculars and visual navigation is still essential, but they don’t learn that in a simulator. Worth noting: A jetty or an island will not move, thus assuming they are is a somewhat revealing.


Perhaps Norway should consider upping their order of Type 212CD submarines as a substitute for the lost capability. As this site has argued with regards to the RN, modern diesel submarines offer different capabilities than frigates there are strong arguments around their combat power and cost.

It’s going to be hard to find a satisfactory surface ship replacement for this loss but the Type 212CD is already on order and another boat or two would add significant capability against Russia while requiring only a small crew.

Adam Harry Cassidy

How many times can you screw up at once ?!?!?

Idiocracy !!!!