Cougar Ace
The Singapore-flagged cargo vessel Cougar Ace has tipped over off the coast of Alaska. All 23 crewmembers have been rescued. The same cannot be said, however, for the 4,700 Mazdas aboard the ill-fated 654-foot ship.

Cougar AceAccording to Mazda, 60% of the cars aboard are Mazda3s, and 30% are CX-7 SUVs. The Associated Press reports that the Cougar Ace tipped after her ballast was adjusted in the open sea. The resulting imbalance sent her over into the 60-degree list she is currently experiencing. As seen in the US Coast Guard photo above, her keel, rudder, and propeller are all out of the water.

The Coast Guard reports that aside from the list, the ship is stable and not sinking. Mitsui O.S.K., the Cougar Ace's owners, has initiated a salvage operation and the company they're working with is expected onsite in approximately one week.

Mazda does not know the extent of the damage to its vehicles and will refrain from further comment until it has more solid information, but based on photos of the ship, it looks like it's safe to assume that the conditions in the hold are, at best, a gigantic mess.

(Mazda press release after the jump)

[Sources: Mazda, AP via CTV, Alaska Report)



PRESS RELEASE:

Mazda Vehicles Aboard
Stricken Car-Carrying Vessel, Cougar Ace

On July 24, 2006, Mazda was advised that the Mitsui OSK Lines' Cougar Ace had run into trouble off the Alaskan coast. Although it is reportedly still afloat, the vessel is on its side,

What caused this incident or the extent of the damage to the vehicles is currently unknown. Just over 4,700 Canadian- and U.S-bound Mazdas were on board. Approximately 60 percent of the cars are MAZDA3s and close to 30 percent are Mazda CX-7s. The vehicles were headed to the ports of Vancouver (Canada), Tacoma and Hueneme in the USA.

A plan for salvaging the vessel is being developed and will be executed by Mitsui OSK Lines as soon as possible.

Mazda will wait until the situation has been fully evaluated and understood, before disclosing further information.