RCCNZ coordinates southern ocean rescue (11)

26 December 2011 - 6.30PM

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has confirmed the ice-strengthened polar research vessel Araon has arrived at the site of the stricken vessel Sparta in the Ross Sea.

RCCNZ received confirmation this afternoon that the Araon arrived at 4am (NZDT) this morning.

Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Mike Roberts says the vessel was alongside Sparta by 5am, and began transferring fuel. At 1pm, 60 tonnes of fuel remained to be transferred to Sparta. This will change Sparta’s trim so that the bow rises clear of the water, exposing the damaged area of hull.

The 48m Sparta, with 32 crew on board, has a 30cm hole in the side, which was 1.5m below the water line before the fuel transfer.

Mr Roberts said crew from both ships will attempt to weld a “doubler plate” on the external plating of the ship and another plate inside.

If successful, the repair is expected to render Sparta seaworthy and able to be escorted by Araon out of the sea ice to open water.

Mike Roberts said the weather in the area is calm, which will be beneficial for the repair operation.

RCCNZ launched the rescue mission after the Sparta issued a distress call around 3am on 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.

For further information contact:
Maritime New Zealand Media Line
Phone 04 499 7318


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