At 0530 hours Wednesday near Steigen, Norway, the fish transporter Fisktrans lost the ability to control her heading, creating a dangerous situation in heavy weather. Her crew worked to troubleshoot the problem, and as a precaution they radioed the HRS Nord-Norge rescue coordination center for assistance. A Sea King helicopter and the rescue launches Skuld and Det Norske Veritas were dispatched to assist.
The attempts at repairs were not successful. "We did everything we could to get the machine going again, but could not," said apprentice Sigve Wenberg, speaking to NRK. The crew ran out the anchor, but the water was so deep that it did not make contact with the bottom.
In 25-foot swells and boarding seas, the situation was rapidly worsening, and at 0700 the captain and the authorities made the decision to abandon ship. With so much motion from the sea state, the rescue helicopter could not lift the crewmembers directly from the Fisktrans' cluttered weather deck. Instead, the crew had to jump into the water. One at a time, the six seafarers went over the side (wearing survival suits) and the helicopter aircrew hoisted them to safety. All were on board by 0719.
"Everyone did exactly what they were supposed to. They recognized the seriousness of the situation, but there was no sign of panic. It's good for me as skipper to know," said Capt. Thomas Torrissen.
The Fisktrans was not so lucky. The authorities had planned to develop a salvage plan for the drifting vessel after daybreak, but they never got the chance: she slipped beneath the waves at about midmorning.