Sparta (ship)

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Name: Sparta
Owner: Antaeus
Port of registry: Sovetskaya Gavan
Launched: 10 January 1988
General characteristics
Displacement: 876 tons
Length: 48 metres (157 ft)
Beam: 8.8 metres (29 ft)
Height: 3.7 metres (12 ft)
Draught: 3.34 metres (11.0 ft)
Capacity: 286 tons
Crew: 32

The Sparta is a 48-metre (157-foot) Russian-flagged fishing trawler and refrigerator ship.

Ross Sea accident[edit]

On 16 December 2011 the Sparta sent out a distress signal after it struck a submerged iceberg while fishing for Antarctic cod in the Ross Sea. The accident left the vessel holed below the waterline and sinking close to the Ross Ice Shelf and approximately 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km) south-east of New Zealand. The Royal New Zealand Air Force twice sent Hercules aircraft on seven-hour flights from Christchurch to air-drop equipment. (The planes had to refuel at McMurdo Station in Antarctica before returning to base.) The air-drops allowed the 32-man crew to pump out the flooded hold, make temporary repairs and stabilise the listing ship.[1][2][3]

Pack ice meant nearby vessels such as the Norwegian Seljevaer and the Sparta's Russian sister ship Chiyo Maru 3 were unable to come to Sparta's aid. The crew of the Sparta, made up of 16 Indonesians, 15 Russians and a Ukrainian researcher, had to wait until 26 December 2011 when the South Korean icebreaker RV Araon arrived. One of the Araon's first tasks was to pump fuel into the raised side of the Sparta, thus lifting the damaged hull and exposing it to the air.[4] The hole was patched with a concrete box, after which the ship was deemed seaworthy. The Araon cleared a path through the ice for the Sparta to follow into open waters, to rejoin her sister ship and sail to New Zealand for repairs.[5]

With the ship's fate in the balance, biologist David Ainley had criticised the system of fishing permits that allowed "underpowered, single-hulled boats" to operate in the area and the costs involved in rescuing them.[6] Ecologist Alexei Knishkikov added his concern for local marine wildlife, should any of the Sparta's 200 tons of light fuel oil leak into the sea.[7] In the event, only a little hydraulic oil spilled into the water.[8]


  1. ^ "Stranded Russian ship receives NZ air drop supplies". BBC. 17 December 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  2. ^ David Barber (18 December 2011). "Crew of stricken Antarctic fishing boat awaits air drop". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Sparta crew doing fine". TVNZ. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Associated Press (26 December 2011). "Rescuers reach stricken Russian ship the Sparta". The Australian. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  5. ^ Rick Dewsbury (28 December 2011). "Free at last! Russian fishing ship trapped in Antarctic begins 2,200 mile trip back to port behind Korean ice-breaker". Mail Online. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Michael Field (22 December 2011). "Drifting Sparta drama sparks criticism of Antarctic fishery". Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  7. ^ Pershkina Anastasiya (19 December 2011). "Drifting "Sparta" gets stabilized". The Voice of Russia. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Sparta Set Free from Antarctic Ice". The Maritime Executive. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.