November 25, 2020

Russian fishing ship lists badly near Antarctica

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A Russian fishing vessel with 32 crew members was taking on water near Antarctica on Friday. Heavy sea ice was hampering rescue efforts, and officials said it could be four or five days before anybody reaches the ship to try to rescue the crew.

The Sparta was listing at 13 degrees next to the Antarctic ice shelf in the Ross Sea, according to Maritime New Zealand. The agency said that the crew was safe and was throwing cargo overboard to lighten the ship, and that some of the crew had boarded lifeboats as a precaution.

The ship has a 1-foot (30 centimeter) hole in the hull about 5 feet (1.5 meters) below the water line, the agency said. The crew so far had managed to pump out much of the incoming water and had attached a tarpaulin over the outside of the hole to slow the water flooding in, the agency said.

The crew have asked for more pumps to be sent to them and will try and make repairs to the hull, the agency said, adding it was trying to figure out a way to deliver the pumps.

“It’s a very remote, unforgiving environment,” said Andrew Wright, executive secretary of the Australian-based Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which has licensed the Sparta to catch toothfish in the Southern Ocean.

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