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Sparta's Christmas recovery delayed

Published: 9:42PM Sunday December 25, 2011 Source: ONE News

There has been a set back in the recovery of a Russian ship in Antarctica.

The Sparta, with a crew of 32, was holed a week ago and heavy ice in the area has prevented nearby vessels from offering immediate assistance.

A South Korean icebreaker berthed in New Zealand set sail last Saturday night and was due to reach the Sparta this afternoon.

The Aaron had planned to link up with the Sparta's sister ship Chiyo Maru No 3 yesterday, and the two vessels were to then make their way to where the stranded boat is moored to help with repairs.

But Chiyo Maru No 3 has had to turn back after it was found to be too slow and not capable of making the journey.

The Aaron is escorting it back to open water. It will then turn back and go through the sea ice to the Sparta. It is expected to arrive at 8am or 9am Monday morning.

Rescue Coordination Centre spokesman Geoff Lunt says the morale of the crew on the Sparta is high.

The 48-metre vessel, with 32 men onboard, had hit ice and put a 30cm hole in the hull, 1.5 metres below the water line. It was taking on water and listing 13 degrees.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) delivered supplies twice to the stranded vessel, including additional pumps, fuel and patches, and the situation has since stabilised.

There's no more water leaking into the Russian fishing vessel, and temporary repairs are holding.

The Chiyo Maru No 3 and two other nearby fishing boats all responded to calls for help, but the icy conditions were too dangerous for them to reach the Sparta.

With Newstalk ZB