US admits to radiation incident

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The Norwegian military reported on Tuesday that the US Navy had now confirmed that one of its vessels emitted radiation that injured crew members on board a Norwegian vessel while both were taking part in exercises in the Arctic last summer.

The Norwegian Coast Guard vessel “KV Nordkapp,” shown here off Svalbard, was indeed hit by radiation from a US Navy vessel in late August, according to military officials. PHOTO: Wikipedia

“The American authorities have confirmed to us that they are responsible for what happened,” Arne Morten Grønningseter of the Norwegian military’s operational headquarters in Bodø, northern Norway, told Norwegian Broadcasing (NRK).

US military officials had initially denied their vessel, the USS Farragut, sent out the radiation that hit the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel KV Nordkapp, knocking out its instruments. The incident occurred in the Barents Sea on August 24, and several of the Nordkapp’s crew members felt their skin become warm from radiation.

The incident was reported immediately, although not made public for more than a week. Coast Guard chief Lars Saunes told NRK at the time that “we sent medical personnel on board the KV Nordkapp, to examine the health of the crew. Several complained of headache and other symptoms after they were exposed to radiation from an American vessel.” The Nordkapp returned to Tromsø from the exercises off Finnmark, known as “Northern Eagle,” and some crew members were later admitted to hospital.

The Americans had claimed that their vessel was equipped with a radar system that shuts itself down when other vessels are nearby. That information was later removed from the Navy’s website but they did launch an investigation into the incident, the results of which have now been shared through their commission’s report.

Radiation from the US Navy vessel’s radar system was to blame, Grønningseter said. “I’m quite sure they (the Americans) wanted to write a thorough report of the incident and therefore haven’t come out with their information before now,” Grønningseter told NRK. “The information now revealed is in line with our observations.” There was no immediate word on whether the Norwegian crew or the Norwegian Coast Guard would receive any compensation.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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