The 157 feet long Russian fishing vessel, Sparta, with a crew of 32 aboard, was holed below the waterline after striking sea ice in the Ross Sea off Antarctica early Friday morning. The vessel is reporting have a one foot hole, five feet below the waterline and is listing 13 degrees. The ship is trapped in ice, reported to be up to five feet thick. The crew is attempting to limit the flooding and has been jettisoning cargo to lighten the ship. Crew who are not occupied in the attempt to save the vessel are reported to have taken to the liferafts. AFP news agency reports that the crew is made up of 15 Russians (including the captain), 16 Indonesians and a Ukrainian.
Assistance from other ships may be difficult due to the thickness of the ice. The Chiyo Maru No. 3, a sister ship to the Sparta, is 290 nautical miles away and heading toward the damaged ship but is not ice strengthened and may be stopped by the ice. The San Aspiring, a New Zealnd long-line fishing vessel which is reported to have some ice strengthening, is also en-route but is four or five days away. A Norwegian fishing vessel, Sel Jevaer, is just 19 nautical miles away, but is blocked by heavy ice and cannot from reach the Sparta.