MV Cougar Ace

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This article is about the ship. For the bus, see ACE Cougar.
Cougar Ace on side (starboard side).jpg
Cougar Ace listing to port, view towards bow end
Career
Name: Cougar Ace
Owner: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Port of registry:  Singapore Singapore
Builder: K.K. Kanasashi, Toyohashi, Japan
Cost: $100-million+
Yard number: 3305
Launched: June 1993
Completed: October 1993
Identification: IMO number: 9051375
Callsign 9VKE
Status: In service
General characteristics
Class & type: Roll On-Roll Off car carrier
Tonnage: 55,328 GT
18,922 DWT
Length: 199 m (652 ft 11 in)
Beam: 32.26 m (105 ft 10 in)
Draught: 9.72 m (31 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: Mitsubishi
Speed: 18.6 knots (34.4 km/h; 21.4 mph)
Capacity: 5,542 automobiles

The MV Cougar Ace is a Singapore-flagged roll-on/roll-off car carrier vessel. The Cougar Ace was built by Kanasashi Co., of Toyohashi, Japan and launched in June 1993. Specifications cite a length of 199m, draft of 9.72m, beam of 32.26m and a maximum speed of 18.6 knots (34.4 km/h; 21.4 mph). Her Gross Tonnage is 55,328. She is owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines.[1]

On May 4, 2005, Cougar Ace delivered 5,214 automobiles at the Fraser River wharves in Richmond, British Columbia. This set a Canadian record for the most vehicles offloaded from a single ship.[2]

Loss of stability incident[edit]

On July 23, 2006, she was en route from Japan to Vancouver, British Columbia; Tacoma, Washington; and Port Hueneme, California, with a cargo of 4,812 vehicles. During an exchange of ballast water south of the Aleutian Islands, she lost stability and developed a 60-degree list to port. There were reports of a large wave striking the vessel during the ballast transfer, but it is unknown what effect this had on her loss of stability.[3] On July 24, the United States Coast Guard and the 176th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard successfully rescued the 23 crew members.[4]

4,703 of the vehicles on board were Mazdas,[5] with about 60% of these being the 2007 Mazda3s and 30% being Mazda CX-7 crossover SUVs. The remaining Mazdas were mainly RX-8s and MX-5s. According to Car and Driver magazine, the exact contents of the shipment were 2804 Mazda3s, 1329 CX-7s, 295 MX-5s, 214 RX-8s, 56 Mazda5s and 5 Mazdaspeed6s.[5]

110 of the vehicles were not Mazdas, but Isuzu vehicles, mostly Isuzu Elf. The total cargo is said to have been valued at US$117 million. Later Mazda North America scrapped all of their vehicles that were on board the vessel during the incident.[6]

Salvage Effort[edit]

A marine salvage team from Titan Salvage arrived on site on July 30, 2006. Led by Salvage Master Captain Rich Habib, the team was able to get aboard the vessel via a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from the cutter Morgenthau.[7] Later that day naval architect Marty Johnson slipped and fell to his death as the salvage team was preparing to leave the Cougar Ace and board the tugboat Emma Foss.[8] Johnson was a 40-year-old resident of Issaquah, Washington and employee of Crowley, the parent company of Titan Salvage.[7]

Titan Salvage subsequently towed the vessel through Samalga Pass to the north side of the Aleutian Islands for protection from the weather using the tugboats Sea Victory, Gladiator and Emma Foss. It was then taken to Old Woman's Bay, Unalaska Island, where it was moored to Icicle Seafoods mooring buoy. It was righted and redelivered to Mitsui on August 16, 2006. On August 25, 2006 the newly upright vessel was put under tow to Portland, Oregon for inspection and repair.

Disposition of cargo[edit]

Mazda officials reported little to no damage to the vehicles on board despite the ship listing nearly 90 degrees for over a month.[9] However, according to the US Coast Guard, 41 vehicles broke loose and shifted, and the few public pictures from inside the ship do show severe damage to at least some cars.[10][11]

On September 11, 2006, one day before the Cougar Ace arrived in Portland to begin unloading, Mazda USA announced that none of the Mazda cars aboard would be sold as new vehicles.[12][dead link] Mazda USA published a list of VINs for the affected Mazda vehicles on the www.MazdaUSA.com website.

On December 15, 2006, Mazda announced that all vehicles on the Cougar Ace would be scrapped.[13][dead link] After an extensive process to deploy all the airbags in each vehicle, all of the Mazda cars were crushed onsite at the Port of Portland by Pacific Car Crushing. The last Mazda car from the shipment was crushed on May 6, 2008.[5]

Appearances in Media[edit]

The Cougar Ace was covered extensively by the automotive press because of the sheer number of new cars that Mazda scrapped after the incident. She has a cameo of sorts in episode one, season three, of the television series "Deadliest Catch". She is shown, temporarily anchored in Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian islands, awaiting further recovery.

Internet Meme[edit]

Shortly after the disaster, a picture of the boat turned sideways became an internet meme, with the caption "All Aboard the Failboat".

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]