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bernard stott

Regarding the Norwegian frigate catastrophe; apart from the obvious questions as to why the initial collision occured in the first place, questions also arise as to the competence of the damage control procedures in place. Despite the extent of the damage sustained, I would have thought that a speedy initiation of closure of watertight doors and such like should have enabled the vessel to remain afloat for long enough to be towed to a secure location.

Perhaps all ranks onboard were a little too relaxed!


The RNN, will take years in acquiring a replacement vessel. Many of the crew, could be assigned to the Royal Navy in the meantime, to meet our manning problem?

bernard stott

… but possibly not those charged with the safe navigation of the Norwegian frigate in question.


Think they might be used to fill the Norwegian manpower gaps instead.


Depends on how many compartments were breached all at once I suppose, sounds like at least one engine room was directly hit, and that she lost propulsion at once given her radio calls to the control.

Mick Nicholson

Initial incident investigation is pointing to very poor compartmentation in design causing the rapid sinking


Makes one appreciate just how vulnerable modern warships are to “low tech” threats.



Michael McGuffin

The US Navy, like the Royal Navy, is suffering from a manpower shortage. This has led to a practice of crews working longer hours and getting less sleep. It follows that crews are fatigued and making poor judgements. There has also been issues of insufficient basic navigation and seamanship training before being deployed.


I see this excuse a lot. On a ship with a crew of 200+ the failure to post a rested, alert watch of 5 core people is not from being undermanned. It’s a failure of manpower management. First duty is to have an alert competent watch on the bridge.


IM surprised that there is no comment about how shockingly little experience is required in the navy to be an OOW, navigator or Captain compared to the Merchant Navy

David Graham

You are absolutely correct in this assertion. I do have some practical experience of this over the years involving my two sea going careers and my subsequent career as a fisheries surveillance consultant involved in the training of various nationals in driving their patrol boats.

I started life as a deck apprentice in the RFA, and like many of my contemporaries, was promoted third officer at the end of my second year, becoming a watch keeper, and then navigator of RFA Fort Charlotte. Even in these far off days, I had far more watch keeping experience [3 ships] than my RN colleagues by the time I sat my second mates ticket.

Later in my time in the RN, I kept watch in a number of OPVs etc, and for two years was part of a team teaching junior officers and also submariners about to become SSN navigators inshore navigation where they had recourse only to a depth recorder, doing everything else by eye and passage planning.

We trainers from Dryad/Mercury [MV Northella: NP 1020] constantly drummed into students the need to keep a proper lookout, and that it was essential to know “who has the ship”.

I believe many of these accidents are the direct result of poor bridge watch keeping organisation, with over reliance on electronic aids, ops room and command centre info, etc, etc. There is absolutely no substitute for an OOW keeping a proper look out, by day and night. In both Astute and Nottingham the hazards were well known, and poor bridge organisation and who had the ship played a large part in the unfolding events. I know the shoal which Astute grounded on; I can assure everyone it has been there for along time!

There are contained in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea clearly understandable rules which set out the actions which bridge watch keepers must take to avoid situations leading to close quarters occurrences, many of which lead to collisions. There is NO ambiguity; the rules make clear which vessel does what when risk of collision is deemed to exist.

I understand from an American colleague that the USN is taking this very seriously and is modifying OOW and bridge watch keeping training to take this into account.


Can an audible warning not be given to the person on the bridge way ahead of a suspected collision, like the “pull up!” warning when an aeroplane starts getting too low?


The Norwegian frigate was given a number of audible warnings from both the local VTS and via VHF from the tanker that she collided with.


I wonder why the ships RADAR system doesnt have automated warnings and alarms for collisions? It could be used as part of the anti swarm boat litteral warfare system? 🙂

The Scallywags

It does if you put a guard alarm on it

Chris Boorman

HMS Brecon was stranded on a rocky Arran beach in the Western Islands after both running generators failed and the engines controls could not control the engines which were set on full ahead. 16-10/1989 The MCMV was repaired and returned to service. Cost unknown.


Admirals pay for high tech, over-engineered and unreliable equipment partly through raiding personnel, training and operational budgets. This leads to less capability as newer ships lead to less operational and training experience.

It is not only the Royal Navy making mistakes with their Type 45 destroyers, F35 and empty floating aircraft palaces (carriers).

US Navy is cannibalising itself faster than Royal Navy! Zumwult Class meant to be 32 ships, so over-engineered and expensive that only three built. These three ships will not sail much and rounds cost $1 million each, therefore unaffordable. Littoral Combat Ship is operational embarrassment, although money still being sent to contractors, hence more cannibalising of fleet in future. Gerald Ford Class electrical problems may be insurmountable, yet Navy wants more ordered before operational testing can be competed.

F35 so expensive and maintenance-intensive it will not fly much. This means that pilots will not get much training and be inexperienced. Pilot skill is far more important than any technology, as demonstrated in many wars. It is the same with sailing ships, nothing beats practical experience.


This seems to be the problem. Navies so obsessed with the most advanced kit that they forget (or under-fund) the basics. It reminds me of previous concerns raised about modern airline pilots becoming experts in systems and autopilots and then “forgetting how to fly”.

Hopefully the MOD will notice that having a diminishing number of ships makes losing just one ship more of a problem.


Having read a number of the articles on this website, I’ve noticed a trend by yourself (and several others) to be constantly negative with your responses which are often filled with unsubstantiated and inaccurate rhetoric that is not relevant to the article itself . That’s not to say that you do, occasionally, have some good points to raise but they are lost due to your constant negativity. In this instance, only your first paragraph relates to the article and I disagree with tyour statement. In a significant majority of the incidents, the cause was human error mainly due to complacency/tiredness, restricted visibility and an over-reliance on modern technology. Night time operations are hazardous at a time when the on watch personnel are understandably tired due to standing watch when they would normally be in bed and this is when the majority of the incidents occur.


At least in this instance there were no fatalities and Injuries were light ? RIP to the Sailors from the USS Fitzgerald – USS McCain – ARA San Juan ? o7


As far as I am aware, the reasons for HMS Penelope Norwegian grounding in 1940 are still secret.


The HMS Penelope (97) ran aground during the Norwegian campaign (1940) while hunting a German merchant ship. The German ship was entering the Vestfjorden or “the west fjord” (96 miles-long sea in Nordland County, Norway) without escort and HMS Penelope was ready for the kill. There were no mysteries or government secrets involved, just a simple case of TUNNEL VISION (or the loss of peripheral vision). The OOD was so concentrated in the pursuit of the German merchant ship, that he totally forgot his position and close proximity to the coastline. It was nothing more than an embarrassing accident with “human error” written all over it.

Iqbal Ahmed

I think it’s inevitable that large numbers of naval ships sailing in restricted and busy shipping lanes and waters will increase collision rates.


Only death and taxes are inevitable.

Robert E,Frick

My apologies for creating negative input, but After studying more than 50 years of Naval at Sea Collisions, Gorundings and accidents I disagree with nearly all of the authors conclusions. Few, in any understand Root Cause and the cyclic recurrence of these “accidents” is assured without a comprehensive and imbedded training program, based upon effective root cause in the presence and in the future from the most junior sailor to the most Senior Fleet Admiral.

Dave Cullen

HMS Superb ran into rocks around 80 miles south of Suez in May 2008. Her bow and sonar were badly damaged and she was forced to surface, limped home and was eventually scrapped”

Hms Superb wasnt scrapped, she is decommissioned and is alongside in Devonport with her bow cut off, but remains afloat – not scrapped