New Zealand to Airdrop Supplies to Stricken Russian Fishing Boat

A New Zealand military plane will drop equipment and fuel to a stricken Russian fishing boat in Antarctica’s Ross Sea today, after the ship’s hull was punctured by ice.

Crew aboard the vessel Sparta made good progress working overnight to stabilize the vessel, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand said in an update on Maritime New Zealand’s website. A C130 Hercules will set off this morning, Maritime New Zealand said in an e-mailed statement.

Sparta, with 32 crew aboard, sent a distress call at about 3 a.m. local time from a position next to the Antarctic ice shelf, about 2,000 nautical miles (2,302 miles) southeast of New Zealand.

The 48-meter ship hit underwater ice that put a 30 centimeter hole in its hull below the waterline, causing it to take on water and list 13 degrees, Maritime New Zealand said.

“They’ve made good progress -- the vessel is certainly in a safer position than it was yesterday,” Chris Wilson, search and rescue mission coordinator, said in the statement today. “The crew, which left the vessel yesterday as a precautionary measure, are now back on board.”

The crew face several days wait for rescue, as three ships making their way toward Sparta are being severely hampered by heavy sea ice.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at

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