Investigating the wreck of the frigate Helge Ingstad

Thursday, November 8, 2018 / Hjeltefjorden, Norway

On the 8th of November 2018, the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad collided with the oil tanker Sola TS. 137 persons was onboard the frigate when the accident occurred. Luckily, no one was severely harmed. The collision created a large damage to the frigates hull, resulting it to sink into Hjeltefjorden.

The Norwegian Navy had a couple of Blueye Pioneer underwater drones at hand, and used them to inspect the damages and plan the salvage operation ahead.

Planning complex underwater operations with drones

The collision between the frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad and the oil tanker MS Sola created a 45 m long tear to the hull of the frigate. The tear resulted in sinking the frigate into the fjord and leaving weapons and secret documents onboard. Due to valuable items, and the risk of oilspill and missiles activating, the Norwegian Navy used Blueye Pioneer underwater drones to inspect the damages to the hull and the affected area around.

The frigate Helge Ingstad Photo: Norwegian Army
The Blueye Pioneer inspecting the sunken frigate Photo: Norwegian Navy / Shot with the Blueye Pioneer

As the Blueye Pioneer is only 48 cm long and 35 cm tall, it can reach into places which is unavailable for humans. With the underwater drones, the Norwegian Navy got visuals of the insides of the frigate through the damaged hull. They even piloted the drone further inside some of the cabins.

Underwater drone inspecting the cabins inside KNM Helge Ingstad Photo: Norwegian Navy / Shot with the Blueye Pioneer

Technical specifications of the Blueye Pioneer

  • Pressure rating: 150 m
  • Speed: 1.5 m/s (3 knots)
  • Run-time: 2 hours
  • Thrusters: 4 x 350 W
  • Camera: Full HD 1080p 25/30 fps
  • Light: 3300 lumen LED

Underwater drone livestream to the surface

With livestream through the Blueye App, the drone operators above the surface are able to get a live view of what’s going on under water. With the Blueye Pioneer, the Norwegian Navy was able to follow visuals of the mine clearance divers working to release the missiles. Giving increased control and safety for everyone involved in the operation.

Mine clearance divers releasing the missiles Photo: Norwegian Navy / Shot with the Blueye Pioneer

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The Norwegian Navy inspecting the sunken frigate Helge Ingstad

See how underwater drones can help to plan complex underwater operations. Video credit: Forsvaret