A research ship has arrived to help rescue a Russian fishing vessel that struck ice and became stuck in the frozen waters off of Antarctica 10 days ago, officials in New Zealand said.
The Sparta hit underwater ice December 16, leaving a one-foot hole in the ship's hull, according to the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center.
The ship has been stranded in an area about 2,000 miles from New Zealand, where the ice has been so thick that rescue ships have had difficulty getting close.
Since becoming stuck, 32 crew members have been working with rescuers to try to patch up the hole to keep the ship from sinking. They had been given tools dropped by a New Zealand Air Force plane, helping them pump out freezing water that was rushing into the ship.
But it has been difficult for the crew to both patch up the hole and pump out water, an official said.
"They are having difficulty in trying to fix a patch to the damaged part of the hull because they need to stop one of the pumps to do this, and then the water level creeps up again," Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Neville Blakemore told the New Zealand Herald.
The research vessel Araon is beginning to pump fuel into the damaged ship in hopes of lifting the bow out of the water enough to expose the damaged area of the hull, search and rescue mission coordinator Mike Roberts said.
Once the ship's hull is out of the water, officials hope that they can weld metal plates to both the inside and outside of the damaged area.
"If successful, the repair is expected to render Sparta seaworthy and able to be escorted by Araon out of the sea ice to open water," the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center said.