HNoMS Helge Ingstad (F313) is an all-modern guided-misisle frigate serving the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNN). She is part of the Fridtjof Nansen-class standard embodied through five total vessels led by Fridtjof Nansen (F310) herself. All remain in active service as of this writing (2018).
Helge Ingstad was ordered on June 23rd, 2000 and her construction was handled by the experienced shipbuilders of Navantia of Spain. Her keel was subsequently laid down on April 28th, 2006 and the hull was launched on November 23rd, 2007. She was formally commissioned on September 29th, 2009.
The class is built around the widely-accepted concept of naval stealth design and, as such, the warship's appearance includes large swathes of slab-siding with an unbroken deck line running from bow to stern. The forecastle is barren save for the sole turreted deck gun. A vertically-launching missile bay is seated in the forecastle aft of the gun turret and ahead of the bridge superstructure noted for its large, rectangular windows and its towering, all-enclosed mast works. The smoke funnels are of a low-profile design and completely enclosed as part of the hull superstructure. The superstructure is a single continuous component with few breaks in its lines leading to a secondary structure mass closer to the stern (housing a full-service hangar with attached helipad).
Structural, Machinery, and Performance
As designed, the warship has a displacement of 5,300 tons with dimensions including a length of 439.6 feet, a beam of 55 feet and a draught of 25 feet. Power is from a COmbined Diesel-and-Gas (CODAG) arrangement which sees 2 x BAZAN BRAVO 12V diesel cruising engines paired to 1 x General Electric LM2500 marine gas turbines for dash actions. This arrangement is used to drive 2 x Shafts under stern. A bow thruster is available for fine-tuned maneuvering and 4 x Diesel generators provide additional power to the ship.
In ideal conditions, the vessel can reach 27 knots and range out to 4,500 nautical miles.
Aboard is a crew complement of up to 146 personnel (120 is typical). An air arm with accompanying mechanics and systems engineers support a single helicopter fleet made up of the NH90 medium-lift navy helicopter. Full-service hangar facilities are also provided for at-sea repair and maintenance.
Armament and Supporting Systems
Armament is a mix of projectile-based and missile-based weaponry, consistent with modern warships of this type to help handle most any at-sea, Blue Water roles. This includes an 8-cell Mk.41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) firing from a stock of 32 x RIM-162 ESSM medium-ranged, Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs). beyond this are 8 x Naval Strike Missile (NSM) anti-ship/land-attack cruise missile launchers and 4 x Torpedo launchers ("Sting Ray" family supported). Projectile-based weapons are led by the single 76mm OTO-Melara "Super-Rapid" turreted deck gun over the forecastle and up to 4 x 12.7mm Browning-type heavy machine guns for extreme close-in work. Other installations of note are the 2 x Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) and 4 x Protector Remote-Weapon Stations (RWSs).
A 40mm Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) is supported but not installed presently. The 76mm deck gun can also be upgraded to a 127mm type as needed and up to three more 8-cell VLS bays can be carried to help increase ranged firepower.
Onboard systems include the Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-1F 3D multi-function radar suite, the Reutech RSR 210N air/sea surveillance radar fit, and the Sagem "Vigy" 20 Electro-Optical (EO) director system. The MRS 2000 is the hull-mounted sonar fit and a Captas Mk.II V1 system serves as the passive/active towed sonar array for submarine-hunting sorties. The Electronic Warfare (EW) suite includes the Terma DL-12T decoy launcher and "Loki" torpedo countermeasures system.
For her relatively short time at sea, Helge Ingstad was used as an escort for merchant ships of the Syrian Civil War for the first half of 2014. These ships carried stocks of chemical weapon supplies earmarked for destruction. In an more embarrassing entry to her ocean-going career, Ingstad was involved in a accident during the early morning hours of November 8th, 2018 when she collided with the oil tanker Sola TS. The damage was extensive enough that the warship was purposely run aground to prevent her sinking. At least seven of her crew were injured in the accident. For this reason, the warship is classified as "out of service" for the time being.