A Chilean exploration ship steamed Tuesday to help a crippled Peruvian scientific vessel and to try to contain an oil spill - the second in the Antarctic this year.

The Chilean navy said the Escampavia Velcho, not expected to reach the disaster site until Wednesday, will "conduct a salvage operation and those tasks necessary to control the oil spill and decontaminate the waters affected by the escaped fuel."The Peruvian vessel, Humboldt, with a crew of 70, hit a reef on King George Island shortly before midnight Sunday and lost control of its steering mechanism. There were no injuries in the accident.

According to Chilean navy officials, "An oil spill (at the accident site) has been located, 150 meters (165 yards) long and 5 meters wide."

"This spill could be a result of the possible rupture of two of the four tanks of diesel fuel, which carried a total of 110 cubic meters," the statement said.

The British icebreaker Endurance rescued the crew Monday and tried unsuccessfully to tow the Peruvian vessel, the Chilean navy said.

A small number of Peruvian sailors stayed on the Endurance to help aid future salvage operations.