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Thursday, June 13, 2024

US Navy to probe radiation incident

The US Navy has denied that one of its vessels exposed crew members on board a nearby Norwegian Coast Guard ship to radiation during military exercises in the Arctic last month. A Navy official said the incident would, however, be investigated further.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) has reported that the incident occurred on August 24, when the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Nordkapp was taking part in exercises near the USS Farragut.

‘Skin was warm’
“The crew noticed that they began having technical problems with their vessel, with equipment turning itself off and on,” Norwegian Coast Guard Commander Lars Saunes told NRK. “They could feel that their skin was warm from radiation to which they were exposed. They contacted the crew of the US vessel so that its radar would be turned off.”

Both vessels were involved in the military exercises “Northern Eagle” off the coast of Finnmark, when the alleged radiation from the Farragut‘s radar hit the Norwegian ship. It wasn’t until September 3, however, that four members of the Nordkapp‘s crew were taken for medical care after the ship sailed into Tromsø. One crew member was hospitalized and placed on sick leave for radiation exposure. All crew members on board the vessel will be subject to ongoing medical examination to monitor symptoms of radiation exposure.

US Navy Lt Sean P Riordan told NRK on Tuesday that the Navy initially had no information about the incident, but after examining the log of the Farragut and speaking with crew members, officials had arrived at a “preliminary conclusion” that the frigate sent out no radiation in the vicinity of the Nordkapp.

Norwegian commission set up
He told NRK the Navy would nonetheless investigate the incident further. Even though the Navy’s own website states that the radar system on the Farragut is supposed to automatically be turned off when other vessels are near, Norwegian Coast Guard officials have said they are certain the radiation that hit the Nordkapp came from the Farragut.

The Nordkapp has been tied up at Tromsø in recent days but was set to return to normal operations from Tuesday. A commission at the Norwegian defense department operative headquarters will also investigate the incident, reported NRK, and will receive assistance from state radiation authorities.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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