23 Dec 2011

Icebreaker due to reach Russian ship on Sunday

7:11 am on 23 December 2011

An icebreaker making its way to a stricken Russian fishing ship is due to reach the Sparta on Christmas Day.

The 48-metre vessel is stranded in the Ross Sea of Antarctica, after ice put a 30cm hole in its side last Friday morning.

Maritime New Zealand says the [Araon is expected to reach the Sparta about 4pm on Sunday and will assist with repairs to the ship.

It says the crew is using equipment dropped to them by the RNZAF on Wednesday. They now have to pump only intermittently to keep ahead of incoming water.

Maritime NZ says the ship is now on an even keel and the incident has been downgraded from a distress phase, to an alert phase.

The [Araon is a South Korean ship. It was built in 2009.