On December 17, 2011, the New Zealand Air Force dropped supplies on the ice near the Sparta using a Hercules C130. The supplies included extra pumping equipment, which helped the crew of 32 (15 Russians, 16 Indonesians, 1 Ukranian) be able to keep the Sparta afloat and make temporary patch repairs to the 30cm hole made by the iceberg. Overnight the repairs failed and Sparta took on more water, but the crew was able to stop the flow by the morning of December 18, 2011, with the help of the extra pumping equipment.
The crew of the Sparta were able to get the ship back on even keel, but they needed more supplies to try and repair the hole. A second Royal New Zealand Air Force drop of supplies took place on December 21, 2011. This drop included pumps, patches, and other equipment.
The Aaron was expected to reach the area where the Sparta is trying to repair itself and remain afloat on December 25, 2011. The Aaron was traveling with Sparta's sister ship the Chiyo Maru No 3. It was going too slow and could not handle the ice, so the Aaron temporarily abandoned the rescue to escort the Chiyo Maru No 3 back to open waters.
Aaron finally reached the Sparta about 1am on December 26, 2011 (still Christmas in many other time zones). The Aaron took on fuel pumped from the Sparta to raise the ship, so that the hole could be seen out of the water and better repaired. The crews of the Sparta and Aaron repaired the hole with a double plater (one inside and one outside). They also discovered a second hole, but were able to make the Sparta seaworthy enough to begin being escorted out of the ice on December 28, 2011to meet up with its sister ship Chiyo Maru no. 3 and head north for permanent repairs to be made.
Related News Articles:
- Russian ship sinking in Antarctic from ABC News Sydney (December 16, 2011)
- Hercules reaches stricken vessel from NZ City (December 17, 2011)
- Stricken Sparta takes on more water from The Sydney Morning Herald (December 18, 2011)
- Crew face long, cold wait for rescue from nzherald.co.nz (December 19, 2011)
- More supplies flown to Sparta from stuff.co.nz (December 21, 2011)
- Sparta's Christmas recovery delayed from TV NZ (December 25, 2011)
- Last-minute Christmas rescue for stricken Antarctic boat (December 25, 2011)
- Ship reaches stuck Russian fishing vessel from CBS News (December 26, 2011)
- Sparta due to head north with sister ship from MSN NZ (December 29, 2011)