Investigators rule out technical errors in Norway's frigate collision: preliminary report

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OSLO, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Investigators have ruled out technical errors in the collision of a Norwegian navy frigate with an oil tanker off Norway's western coast early this month, a preliminary report showed on Thursday.

In the report, the Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN) said the "preliminary assessment is that the accident was not caused by any single act or event, but can be explained by a series of interacting complex factors and circumstances."

"The investigation team is seeking to identify and understand these factors. So far, the AIBN has not seen any indication of technical systems not working as intended up until the time of the collision," it said.

The KNM Helge Ingstad frigate with 137 people on board and the Malta-registered Sola TS tanker with 23 people on board collided at about 04:01 (0301 GMT) on Nov. 8 outside the Sture Terminal, an oil terminal 50 km northwest of Bergen, Norway.

The frigate took a lot of water as the collision caused a large hole in its side. Eight people on board the navy ship suffered minor injuries while the tanker sustained only slight damage.

According to the report, the frigate's crew failed to separate the lights on the tanker that was departing the terminal from the lights on land and mistakenly thought the deck lights fully lit on the tanker belonged to "a stationary object."

"The tanker's use of deck lights after departure also meant that the crew on KNM Helge Ingstad were unable to spot the navigation lights on Sola TS," the report said.

Shortly before the collision, both the tanker's pilot and the nearby vessel traffic service centre called KNM Helge Ingstad requesting the vessel to act. But the frigate's crew stated that they could not turn to starboard, based on a continued perception of the lights as being stationary and that a turn to starboard would send them straight into the lit object.

The frigate's crew also believed that they were communicating with one of the three vessels nearby that they were monitoring on the radar. It was not until just after this that the crew became aware that they were on collision course, at which time it was impossible to avoid a collision.

The AIBN stresses that this is a preliminary report and that it "may consequently contain some errors and inaccuracies." Enditem

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