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Gun's cupola ripped off:

The Off Shore Patrol Frigate THETIS damaged off Greenland

During a passage from the Faroes to Greenland, powerful waves broke over the ship's foredeck and smashed the cupola of the ships' gun.

THETIS in calmer weather entering Copenhagen on August 31, 2007.

THETIS in calmer weather entering Copenhagen on August 31, 2007.
(Photo: Johnny E. Balsved)

By Johnny E. Balsved

During a passage from the vicinity of the Faroes to Greenland, powerful waves broke over the foredeck and other parts of the off shore patrol frigate THETIS, and smashed the cupola of the ship's 76mm M/85 gun.

Efforts to save the cupola were not successful, but after three attempts in harsh weather conditions it was possible to prevent any leakage occurring through the gun’s mounting.

According to reports, the only damage was to the ship; none of the crew were injured, although some were exhausted after hard work on the foredeck in heavy seas.

Journalist Pernille Kroer from Admiral Danish Fleet Headquarters (editor of Søværnsorientering), who is on board the off shore patrol vessel in connection with the passage, reports as follows:

Three repair attempts!

It started on Sunday night when the cupola of THETIS' gun was cracked after being hit by violent waves that washed in over the foredeck.

Three crewmembers were therefore sent out on deck in the harsh weather to cover the gun with a heavy tarpaulin.

During the night, the tarpaulin worked itself loose, and instead the cupola was repaired with wooden boards, that were screwed into the cupola.

But they too couldn't withstand the forces of nature.

At 0800 hrs on Tuesday morning, local time, 230 nautical miles off the coast of Greenland, a pair of giant waves finished off the cupola.

It was ripped off, and it wasn't just the gun that was left exposed.

With the cupola now completely off, the compartment under the gun was open to the elements.

Therefore THETIS had to heave to in heavy seas, while the gun was once more covered over.

The wind at the time was 15 meters per second, but fortunately was due to ease later on the Tuesday.

A pair of violent waves washed over the foredeck and tore off the gun's cupola.

The shredded cupola was heaved over the side, as there was no other way of removing it from the foredeck.
(Photos: Pernille Kroer, journalist, SOK)

Click here to see more photos in a higher resolution...

By 1130 hrs the gun was once more covered up, and the off shore patrol frigate could continue its passage towards Prince Christians Sound in Greenland.

It's planned to have replacements parts flown to Nuuk (in Greenland) so the gun can once more be covered with a suitable cupola, explained Pernille Kroer from SOK.

Cause unknown

Apart from the report that the cupola was damaged by waves in bad weather, there is no further information about the cause.

The inspection ships of the THETIS Class are built to withstand bad weather conditions, and have demonstrated that on many occasions, even in conditions that were far worse than those that seem to have been prevailing at the time of the damage occurred.

According to information from the Danish Meteorological Institute, the average wind speed on Monday was around 24 m/s and the waves about 4-6 meters high, so it can hardly be described as fair weather.

In the North Atlantic context that can hardly be considered harsh weather, but the North Atlantic can on occasion produce some extremely high and sudden waves.

There's no question of metal fatigue, as the cupola of the Danish Navy's 76mm M/85 gun gun is manufactured from fiberglass!

Resuming role as off shore patrol frigate

Following a period of training for the role, THETIS had spent some weeks on fisheries protection duties around the Faroes and is now heading for Greenland, where those duties will continue along the West coast of Greenland.

The ship was on its first assignment back in the off shore patrol role after having spent a number of years primarily carrying out the role of command ship and providing a platform for, amongst others, the Navy's Danish Task Group.

The role of command ship has now been taken over by the support ship ABSALON; similarly the second support ship, ESBERN SNARE, can take over the role when she is certified as complete next spring.

Translated by Alan Russel (November 19, 2007)

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