Icebreaker dispatched for southern ocean rescue In Antarctic ice

Posted: 12/19/2011 in all marine news

gCaptain –

Crew on board the Russian vessel Sparta have requested more equipment to help repair damage to the boat’s hull while rescue efforts are hampered by icy conditions in the southern ocean.

Sparta issued a distress call around 3am on Friday from a position next to the Antarctic ice shelf, about 2000 nautical miles (3704 kilometres) south east of New Zealand.

The 48m vessel, with 32 crew on board, had hit ice and put a 30cm hole in the hull, 1.5m below the water line.

It was taking on water and listing 13 degrees. The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) tasked three nearby vessels to assist Sparta, but all three have been hampered by heavy sea ice.

One, the New Zealand vessel San Aspiring, was released from the rescue yesterday after its crew determined the more than 470 nautical mile (NM) journey was too dangerous.

The Norwegian vessel Sel Jevaer is only 19NM away but is currently hemmed in by ice and unable to proceed. Sparta’s sister ship, Chiyo Maru no. 3 is slowly making its way towards the stricken vessel but is still days away.

Yesterday, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) C130 Hercules dropped extra pumping equipment and fuel to the vessel, after a seven-hour flight from Christchurch.

The Hercules was returning today and due back in New Zealand tonight. RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Neville Blakemore said the crew was continuing to pump water from the ship using the on-board pumping equipment and the one delivered yesterday.

“They are keeping ahead of the water ingress using two pumps,” Mr Blakemore said.

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