Cougar Ace under tow

Mazda has announced that none of the 4,700+ vehicles aboard the ill-fated cargo ship Cougar Ace will be sold as new vehicles. According to a press release issued by the automaker a short time ago, cars that are damaged beyond repair will be scrapped immediately. Cars that are deemed fixable and saleable, however, could be sold through Mazda's dealer network as used vehicles. Mazda stresses that no decision on saleability will be made until after the full load of vehicles is unloaded and inspected in Portland, OR. Cougar Ace left Alaska under tow on 9/1 and is expected to arrive in Oregon tomorrow.

For its part, Mazda is being completely transparent about this and will publish the complete list of VIN numbers for every vehicle aboard the ship at MazdaUSA.com and their Canadian site, Mazda.ca, As has been stated before, the cargo consists mostly of Mazda3s and Mazda CX-7s.

Cougar Ace suffered a near-catastrophic mishap on July 23 when an error during reballasting at sea sent the vessel into a steep list. She stayed afloat, however, and her crew was rescued. Sadly, an accident on board claimed the life of Marty Johnson, a naval architect working on the salvage team that ultimately righted the ship off the Alaskan coast in late August.

We're pleased to see that Mazda is handling this the right way. Publicizing the VIN list is a great good faith measure, and doing so inoculates them from accusations of trying to pass on damaged goods to customers. In fact, we wonder if the list will actually help them close a few deals along the way (assuming some cars are in repairable condition).

Think about it: given their history, some may view the cars on board as odd collectibles -- reminders of a fascinating and dramatic maritime event. In this case, the VIN list serves as irrefutable proof of the cars' backgrounds.

Still, you won't find us lining up for one if they show up in dealerships. We prefer cars whose trips across the ocean are more boring and uneventful.

(Press release after the jump)

[Source: Mazda]



PRESS RELEASE:

No Mazda Vehicles on Car-Carrying Vessel Cougar Ace will be Sold as New Vehicles

HIROSHIMA, Japan-- Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today announced that the Mazda vehicles aboard the car-carrying vessel, Cougar Ace, which ran into trouble on July 23, 2006, off the Alaskan coast, resulting in her listing some 60-plus degrees, will not be sold as new vehicles.

"While we do not, at this time, know the full extent of the damage to vehicles on board, none of the Mazdas will be sold as new", said Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO of MNAO. "Those beyond repair will be immediately scrapped. It is possible that those vehicles which are repairable would be made available for sale as used cars through Mazda's dealer network in the U.S. and Canada. We will only be in a position to decide on any used car sales once the vessel has been unloaded and each unit comprehensively inspected."

"In the interests of transparency and customer peace of mind, we will post a listing of all vehicle identification numbers (VINs) on our consumer Websites, www.MazdaUSA.com and www.mazda.ca so that there is no confusion as to which vehicles were on the ship," stated O'Sullivan.

Slightly more than half of the cars are MAZDA3s and about one-fourth are Mazda CX-7s. The vehicles were headed to the ports of Vancouver (Canada), Tacoma and Hueneme (U.S.).

The Cougar Ace sailed from Japan to North America with just over 4,700 Canadian- and U.S-bound Mazdas aboard. She became stricken when an issue during a routine ballast-water change caused her to list. Thanks to heroic efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard, all 23 crew members were transferred from the ship within hours.

After the ship was stabilized, she was towed by her owners to sheltered waters in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where she was returned to an even keel. She is currently under tow to the Port of Portland, Ore., where she is expected to arrive on September 12 (the same date in local time). Upon arrival, her cargo will be further evaluated and unloaded.

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.