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November 10, 2000

Sleipner commission reports
A commission appointed by Norway's Justice Department has issued its report on last November's disaster involving the high speed ferry Sleipner in which 16 lives were lost.

The report notes that the Sleipner was delivered to its owners, HardangerSleipner Sunnhordlandske Dampskipsselskap ASA (HSD), in summer 1999 by the builders, Austal Ships Pty. Ltd .

It is 42 m long and registered to carry 380 passengers. The craft was put into service on the route between Bergen and Stavanger on August 25, 1999.

On Friday November 26, 1999, the crew embarked at 09.30 hours inLeirvik, Stord, and the craft departed on its route to Bergen. From there it proceeded to Stavanger, returning bound for Bergen at 17.30 hrs. On the northward stretch there were squalls with strong winds from south-south west.

The craft departed Haugesund at 18.50 hrs. Later it was ascertained that there were 76 passengers and a crew of nine on board at that time,totaling 85 persons.

MS Sleipner proceeded at about 35 knots in the northward channel. Slightly before 19.08 hrs. the chief officer observed the Store Bloksen rocks straight ahead. The captain immediately gave full speed astern, but that did not prevent the craft from running on to the rocks at high speed.

At 19.08 hrs a distress message was sent over Rogaland radio. The Rescue Coordination Center in South Norway immediately initiated disaster action with assistance from vessels in the vicinity and rescue helicopters.

After a time the bow broke off and the craft moved off the rock. The damage to the hulls was extremely extensive. Just over 30 minutes after running aground, the main section of the craft went down. Those on board ended up in the water. Sixty ninepersons were picked up alive. Fifteen dead were found and identified. One person is still missing.

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