MV Cougar Ace

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]

Cougar Ace listing to port, view towards bow end
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
Status: In service
General characteristics
Class and type: Roll On-Roll Off car carrier
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

On 4 May 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

On 23 July 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° 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 24 July, the United States Coast Guard and the 176th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard successfully rescued the 23 crew members.[4]

4,703 (97.7%) of the vehicles on board were from Mazda; 60% were 2007 Mazda3s and 30% were Mazda CX-7s.[5] The remaining Mazdas were mainly RX-8 and MX-5 models. According to Car and Driver magazine, the exact contents of Mazda's shipment were 2,804 Mazda3, 1,329 CX-7, 295 MX-5, 214 RX-8, 56 Mazda5 and 5 Mazdaspeed6 models. The remaining 2.3% of the vehicles on board (approximately 110 vehicles) were from Isuzu, mostly Isuzu Elf trucks. In total, the cargo had an estimated value of US$117 million.[6]

Salvage effort

A marine salvage team from Titan Salvage arrived on site on 30 July 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 Unalaska Island, where it was moored to Icicle Seafoods' mooring buoy. Cougar Ace was righted and redelivered to Mitsui Group on 16 August 2006, and on 25 August put under tow to Portland, Oregon for inspection and repair.

Disposition of cargo

Mazda officials reported minimal damage to the vehicles on board despite the ship listing for over a month.[9] However, according to the US Coast Guard, 41 vehicles broke loose and shifted.

On 11 September 2006, one day before the Cougar Ace arrived in Portland to begin unloading, Mazda USA announced that none of the Mazdas aboard would be sold as new vehicles.[10] Mazda USA published a list of VINs for the affected Mazda vehicles on their website.

On 15 December 2006, Mazda announced that all vehicles on the Cougar Ace would be scrapped.[11] 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 6 May 2008.[6]

Appearances in media

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.

See also


  1. "Cougar Ace" (in German). Retrieved 2 August 2006.
  2. "Fraser Wharves Sets New Auto Delivery Record". Open Sea. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines. 4 May 2005. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  3. D'Oro, Rachel (26 July 2006). "Rescued crew of listing ship happy to be alive". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 11 November 2006.
  4. "23 are rescued as cargo ship takes water". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 25 July 2006. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  5. "Mazda Vehicles Aboard Stricken Car-Carrying Vessel, Cougar Ace". Mazda Motor Corporation. 27 June 2006. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  6. "Cougar Ace: The Great $103 Million Snafu at Sea". Car and Driver. 1 October 2008. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2009.
  7. Cougar Ace salvage operation turns deadly at
  8. Pemberton, Mary (1 August 2006). The Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore stationed out of Cordova Alaska was a key member in the salvage of the Cougar Ace. "Member of salvage team is killed in fall aboard listing ship" Check |url= value (help). Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  9. Demer, Lisa (27 August 2006). "Finally Upright, Cougar Ace will be Portland Bound". Anchorage Daily News. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007.
  10. "NO MAZDA VEHICLES ON CAR-CARRYING VESSEL COUGAR ACE WILL BE SOLD AS NEW". Archived from the original on 5 May 2008.
  11. "ALL MAZDA VEHICLES FROM CAR-CARRYING VESSEL COUGAR ACE TO BE SCRAPPED". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007.
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