Many naval shipwrecks are in deep water or in mud so nasty that even if in shallower depths, have visibility of about nil. Not so with the recently lost Helge Ingstad, which for now at least, is in the shallows of a crystal clear fjord in Norway at depths that enable small surface ROVs and scuba-equipped salvage work.
For those under a rock for the past month, HNoMS Helge Ingstad is a Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate of the Royal Norwegian Navy. On 8 November 2018, the frigate collided with the tanker Sola TS in Norwegian waters, was severely damaged in the collision and beached:
The cables didn’t hold and she slipped down the ledge where she rests today.
The Norwegian Navy this week released two videos from the wreck. One of them piloting the Blueye Pioneer underwater drone inside her hull, and another recovering Naval Strike Missile (NSM) launch canisters from her topside.
The NSM is a 13-foot-long, 900-pound anti-ship missile produced by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and it is being shopped by Raytheon in the U.S. to replace Harpoon on frigates and LCS vessels. The range is 100+ nm and it is optimized for use in so-called green or blue water. Nansen-class frigates tote eight of these. More on the NSM here.
Of note, Blueye is also a Norwegian company. More on the ROV, which only runs like $6K, here.
Unless you have been under a rock, the saga of the Royal Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof Nansen-class AEGIS frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad (F313), which somehow collided with the Maltese-flagged oil tanker Sola TS last week. The incident, while Ingstad was performing navigational training in the inner Fjords at 0400, left the relatively new 5,300-ton FF fighting for her life.
As noted by the Norwegian Navy at the time, she was grounded and started listing:
Due to the damage to the frigate it was moved to a safe place and the crew was evacuated in a professional manner. There are no reports of damages or leaks from the oil tanker and no report of serious injuries, though eight crewmembers are being treated for minor injuries.
Now, after a week of attempting to save her, the list grew and she is all but on the bottom at this point.
Even if she is raised, it’s unlikely that her expensive AN/SPY-1F 3-D radar and other sensors are going to be up to snuff after weeks, or months, in salt water. The class cost $500 million per ship, with about half of that in weapon systems and electronics, mostly spent with Lockheed-Martin and Kongsberg as well as a host of other European tech companies.
Norway only built five of the Nansen-class frigates, a modification of the Spanish Navy’s Álvaro de Bazán-class vessels. The theory on five was to have four in the rotation for normal deployment with the fifth boat as a “spare” to allow for training, extended dry dock-level maintenance, and overseas operations (the class has been involved in EU counter-piracy ops off Somalia and UN efforts off Syria). That flexibility is now gone.
Ingstad was part of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and had just participated in the giant Trident Juncture 2018 meant to be a show of force on display for Moscow. U.S. Navy Adm. James G. Foggo, head of the 6th Fleet, even spent some time on her decks.
So naturally, the Russians are talking much smack about the whole thing on state-owned media. (Google: Kursk, or Admiral Kuznetsov, to see about the whole pot and kettle thing).