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Stranded fishermen in Antarctica days away from rescue ANTARCTICA - The crew of a stricken Russian fishing vessel which is stranded in Antarctica and is taking on water is at least four to five days away from being rescued, rescue officials said on Friday. The ship is carrying crew members from Russia, Indonesia and Ukraine.

The 55-meters (180-foot) vessel, Sparta, issued a distress call at around 3 a.m. New Zealand time on Friday while next to the Antarctic ice shelf in the Ross Sea, about 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 kilometers) south of New Zealand. The crew is made up of 15 Russians, 16 Indonesians and 1 Ukrainian.

Ramon Davis, the search and rescue mission coordinator at the Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand (RCCNZ), said the vessel is taking on water and is at a 13 degree angle. He said the crew is pumping water out of the holds and discharging cargo onto the ice to lighten the ship.

Some of the crew have been offloaded onto the ice as a precautionary measure, the RCCNZ said, but all crew members are believed to be safe. Davis said RCCNZ has contacted a number of vessels operating in the Southern Ocean, but heavy sea ice is making vessel movement difficult.

Sparta's sister ship, the Chiyo Maru no. 3, is making its way towards the stricken vessel to rescue the crew. But the Chiyo Maru no. 3 is about 290 nautical miles (537 kilometers) away and has no ice classification, meaning no capacity to cut or break through sea ice.

The New Zealand vessel San Aspiring, which has some capacity to move through ice, is also making its way towards Sparta. But San Aspiring was about 470 nautical miles (870 kilometers) away from Sparta on Friday and will need at least four to five days to reach the area.

The RCCNZ said a third vessel is only 19 nautical miles (35 kilometers) away from Sparta, but it is hemmed in by heavy ice and unable to proceed towards the stricken vessel. A Hercules aircraft from McMurdo Station is expected to fly over the ship on Friday afternoon to assess the ice conditions but will be unable to rescue any of the crew.

There are also no helicopters nearby which could undertake a rescue in the area and Davis said the best option to assist Sparta is to identify a nearby vessel which can come to its aid. "We have contacted a number of vessels," he said, adding that the RCCNZ is continuing to contact vessels in the Southern Ocean to see if there are any others with ice capability.

"We are working to find a way to speed the rescue up, but it is possible the crew will have a fairly long wait for rescue," Davis said. "We have confirmed the crew has immersion suits on board and other resources which will assist them to survive if they have to abandon the ship."

According to RCCNZ, the weather in the area was calm on Friday with temperatures of about 3 degrees Celsius (37.4 degrees Fahrenheit).


Tags: Russia, fisher, boat, Antarctica, Indonesia, crew


Posted in Accidents @ 16 December 2011 01:32 CET by Blog Bot · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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