After a day of slowly raising the sunken frigate KNM Helge Ingstad out of the Hjelte Fjord, there’s been a change of plan. Fears of rougher seas and weather are prompting salvage crews to now move the wreckage 30 kilometers south to the other side of the fjord, where waters are expected to be calmer.
The frigate is now off the seabed and secured by chains from the heavy-lift ships used to raise it in an operation that finally began this week, nearly four months after the frigate collided with a tanker and sank while returning from NATO exercises.
Swells were too strong, navy officials announced Wednesday morning, to continue the operation at the site of the sinking. The frigate was high enough in the water to start pumping water out of it, and start moving it to a more protected area of the fjord off the south side of Hanøytangen on the island of Askøy.
The transport alone was due to take around a day, after defense and salvage officials decided it was too risky to carry out the initial salvage plan.
“We see that even a short move south in the fjord will reduce the risk of heavy swells considerably,” said Anders Penna of the salvage firm BOA who’s leading the operation.
The frigate will literally be transported while chained to the crane barges that lifte it, Gulliver and Rambiz. All three vessels will then be towed as a single unit to the new salvage site.
Special environmental measures were also in place to hinder any oil spills along the way, with coast guard vessels escorting the entourage, armed with equipment to catch any spills.