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Sparta trawler stranded in Antarctica has enough food, fuel supply

December 23, 2011, 12:15 UTC+3
The Russian trawler Sparta that was stranded in a complex emergency off the coast of Antarctica
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VLADIVOSTOK, December 23 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian trawler Sparta that was stranded in a complex emergency off the coast of Antarctica, has enough food and fuel supplies on board. The Korean icebreaker Araon that is sailing from New Zealand to help the Sparta vessel will get to the trawler on December 25-26, Director General of the Vladivostok-based Antei company Andrei Polomar told Itar-Tass on Friday. The Sparta is within the company’s fleet.

According to Polomar, the trawler that got a big hole is stranded in the ice, there is no threat to the life and health of the fishermen there. Another trawler of the same company Vladivostok - Chiyo Maru and the Norwegian ship Seljavaer are also making their way to help the Sparta. However, Polomar expressed doubt that they will be manage to break through the ice to the Sparta.

So far all the help for the distressed vessel has been provided by the New Zealand's military aviation. The C-130 (Hercules) plane has already twice dropped on the ice near the Russian trawler containers with equipment, pumps and materials needed for stopping the hole that the vessel got December 16 in a collision with an ice floe. Then water started to flow into the trawler, and the Sparta developed a tilt of 13 degrees. In recent days, the vessel’s crew with the help of New Zealand pumps has managed to pump out water and put the trawler on an even keel. Water continues to flow into the hold, but the pumps are coping with it.

The homeport of the Sparta ship is Sovgavan in the Khabarovsk Territory. The port’s captain said that the trawler was built in 1988, the vessel’s length is 55 metres, displacement - 846 tonnes, with unlimited navigation area, endurance - 50 days. The Sparta sailed in the ··Antarctica area for catches of a valuable fish species - toothfish.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) launched the rescue mission after the Sparta issued a distress call around 3am last Friday (16 December) from a position next to the Antarctic ice shelf, in the Ross Sea, about 2000 nautical miles (3704 kilometres) south east of New Zealand. The vessel, with 32 crew on board, has a 30cm hole in the side which is 1.5m below the water line.

New Zealand’s rescuers said earlier that the situation onboard the Sparta was stable. The crew made up of 15 Russians, 16 New Zealand’s citizens and a Ukrainian citizen, which are on duty in turn, were pumping the water from the hull by two pumps. The minimum task for the crew is to keep the trawler floating and to prevent the list from developing. The maximum task to level and ease the load onboard the Sparta so that the hole turned out to be higher the water level to stop the water flooding in the hull and to make full-fledged repairs possible as long as it is ever probable in such conditions. The vessel staying nearby would have eased up the task, as the Sparta crew could have pumped some fuel from the reserves to this vessel to reduce the water draught of the trawler. The fuel dumping in the sea remains a measure of last resort, because this measure can trigger an ecological disaster in an unpolluted area of the Antarctic, where the natural balance of wild species is quite fragile all the same.

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