The Norwegian Navy's newest logistics ship, its largest, has been slapped with a navigation ban, the newspaper Aftenposten reported.
The KMN Maud, which has its own workshop, hangar space for two helicopters, operating theatre and a hospital with 44 beds, was launched in May this year and has a price tag of NOK 2.2 billion ($250 million).
Now, it cannot leave the dock until faults and deficiencies are cleared, which won't happen until the second quarter of 2020.
The sailing ban was introduced based on assessed danger to crew safety by the DNV GL, the Norwegian-based certification company formerly known as Det Norske Veritas. Inspectors uncovered a series of onboard matters related to material safety and lack of maintenance. Additionally, much of the new and expensive medical equipment onboard has also come under scrutiny. For example, the oxygen generator, which is to be used to produce oxygen on board in the operating theatre, can pose a significant fire hazard.
Lars Gørvell-Dahll, the head of the Norwegian Maritime Industry Association, said the lack of maintenance on the KNM Maud is related to its two-year docking at the South Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering shipyard, which barely survived a bankruptcy through a huge government rescue package.
"It is rare for a vessel to receive a sailing ban from the DNV. So it must be relatively serious. It sounds like they have not done the necessary maintenance over the years the ship had been docked", Gørvell-Dahll suggested.
Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said that the KNM Maud is currently in a test period intended to detect errors on the vessel.
"This happens in all major acquisitions. The KNM Maud is under warranty and the yard is focused on fulfilling their warranty obligations. The focus now is on rectifying the deviations so that the planned exercise can start as soon as possible", Bakke-Jensen said.
However, not all shared his optimism.
"It is obviously very disappointing that a ship must be docked after only five months", the head of the parliamentary foreign and defence Committee, Anniken Huitfeldt, who acted as godmother when the ship was christened in May 2019. "For the Navy's operational capability, these problems come atop the loss of the frigate Helge Ingstad", she added, referring to the warship that sank after NATO drills following a collision with a tanker. Though salvaged after a costly and lengthy operation, the frigate was deemed irreparable.
According to Naval War Academy researcher Ståle Ulriksen, the temporary loss of the KNM Maud is a blow to "Norway's great ambitions to contribute to NATO forces". According to him, the choice is between toning the ambitions down and getting more frigates "to follow what the Russians are doing".
Norway embarked on a quest to build a new logistics vessel as early as 2002. The world's second-largest shipyard, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, was contracted, but later ran into major financial problems.
In February this year, the 183 meter long logistics ship left the shipyard in South Korea and became the first Norwegian Navy ship to cross the Pacific.
The Maud can carry 9.3 million litres of fuel, as well as 400 tonnes of equipment, ammunition and missiles. The ship will be able to supply two frigates at speed and should replace its predecessor, the KNM Valkyrien.