Update: Icebreaker Reaches Damaged Russian Boat off Antarctica
New Zealand officials confirm that an icebreaker vessel has finally reached the 32-crewmember Sparta taking on water off the coast of Antarctica in the Ross Sea and making very good progress at repairing the ailing ship.
The icebreaker that came to Sparta’s aid is a South Korean polar research vessel called Araon, and is expected to stay with Sparta throughout repairs to the 1-foot hole in ship’s hull and then escort her to an ice-free area of ocean thereafter.
The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand (RCCZ) said that the crews of both ships are making steady progress at repairing the damaged shell plating on Sparta. Mike Roberts of RCCZ stated that a cement box will be secured to in the inner shell plating, making the vessel once again sea worthy. Roberts added that for safety reasons, it will not be possible to access damage to the exterior shell plating due to Sparta’s location right off the Antarctic ice shelf.
The S. Korean Araon began transferring fuel from Sparta in order to change her alignment and to elevator the damaged area from the water line. A second hole was discovered in the ship, but according to RCCZ, has only caused localized flooding in a small space, and should not affect making safe passage out of the ice as this hole can also not be repaired at Sparta’s current location.
Both vessels are slated to leave their location off the ice shelf in the Ross Sea at midnight NZ time on Wednesday if progress stays on course.