Norway: British Guided Missile Frigate hits the rocks in fjord fiasco : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Norway: British Guided Missile Frigate hits the rocks in fjord fiasco

By Neil Tweedie

ONE of the Royal Navy's newest warships was lying crippled in a Norwegian fjord last night after a navigational error caused it to run aground in a well-marked shipping lane.

The Type 23 guided missile frigate Grafton was sailing through the fjord from Oslo to the open sea with six other Nato ships when it strayed into the wrong shipping lane. The three-year-old ship then hit an outcrop of rocks as it tried to correct course. The incident has caused some amusement in Norway because the channel is one of the most well-marked in Europe. Ferries and cargo vessels used it daily without mishap.

The 3,500-ton ship, equipped with the latest sonar and radar, hit the rocks in daylight and good weather. None of the other warships in the squadron, which included Spanish, Canadian, Danish and Dutch vessels, came to any harm. Last night the Ministry of Defence started an inquiry.

Royal Navy divers were examining Grafton's hull to assess the damage. A barge was pumping fuel out of the warship to reduce stress on the hull and in the hope that it might float free. Two tugs were standing by. The 170-strong crew, who had enjoyed a weekend in Oslo with their Nato colleagues, remained aboard. Grafton, commissioned in 1997 and commanded by Cdr Bob Sanguinetti, is assigned to Nato's Standing Force Atlantic.

The Norwegian authorities said that three of the seven warships were given pilots to guide them through the channel. Grafton was among those which were not. Henrik Eddie, of the Horten traffic control centre, which manages the sea lanes, said that the lack of a pilot should not have been a problem for well-trained personnel. He said: "It is a narrow passage, but there are many markers."

-- Carl Jenkins (, September 12, 2000

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