Norwegian navy blows up torpedoes on shipwrecked warship

The Royal Norwegian Navy has removed all torpedoes remaining in the sunken Helge Ingstad frigate, an ignoble end for the multimillion-dollar ship that sank in an avoidable collision last November.

The Helge Ingstad was one of the most modern ships in Norway’s navy, and cost over $500 million dollars. It now sits at the bottom of the Hjeltefjorden, between the port city of Bergen and the North Sea, following a collision with an oil tanker in November.

Military divers removed around half of the frigate’s missiles last week, taking them inland to be destroyed at a landfill site. The other half were detonated on site after the navy decided they were too volatile to risk moving.

Video footage of the detonation shows plumes of water towering hundreds of meters into the air.

More ammunition remains on board the sunken vessel, which will need to be reviewed before the remains can be raised.

The Helge Ingstad met its end while returning from NATO exercises in November. Meant to counter perceived Russian aggression, the drills involved 50,000 troops, 10,000 vehicles, and 65 ships.

On a routine patrol on the way back, the Helge Ingstad was struck by a Greek oil tanker, which tore a hole in the frigate’s starboard side. The Helge Ingstad’s 137-man crew abandoned ship, and the stricken vessel was towed toward the shore. However, steel cables keeping the ship upright snapped a week later, and the ship was almost completely submerged.

The tanker, which carried around 625,000 barrels of crude oil, was mostly undamaged. A subsequent investigation revealed that the costly sinking was entirely avoidable.

On the night of the crash, the Helge Ingstad’s crew had some of its positioning systems off. They noticed a cluster of lights in the distance that they thought was an object onshore, but was, in reality, the tanker.

As the tanker drew closer, its crew couldn’t identify the Helge Ingstad, due to its positioning system being disabled. When the tanker’s crew realized they were on a collision course, they tried to radio the Helge Ingstad crew, who thought the transmission was intended for another ship.

By the time the frigate’s crew took evasive action, it was too late. The crash tore through the Helge Ingstad, flooding its engine rooms. The investigation found that the rapid spread of floodwater through the vessel is a “safety critical issue” that must also apply to the Norwegian Navy’s four other frigates.

Three months later, the Ingstad is now gathering rust at the bottom of a freezing fjord. Haunting video footage shows the former warfighting giant ruptured and abandoned to the deep.

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