28 Dec 2011

Damaged Russian ship on its way to NZ

10:09 am on 28 December 2011

The Russian fishing vessel Sparta was on its way out of the Ross Sea on Wednesday after temporary repairs to its hull were completed.

The 48-metre vessel with 32 crew has been stranded off the Antarctic ice shelf since 16 December when its hull was pierced by ice.

Chris Henshaw of Maritime New Zealand's Rescue Co-ordination Centre told Summer Report the ship was fit to begin its journey out of Antarctic waters accompanied by the Korean icebreaker Araon.

"They've got approximately 100 miles of ice to get through, and once she's clear of the ice the intention is, we understand, that Sparta will then make her way to Lyttelton."

Mr Henshaw says it will take about 12 hours to get beyond the ice, at which point the Russian vessel is expected to rendezvous with sister ship Chiyo Maru No. 3.