As we all know, there is a great number of foreign made cars driving on U.S. highways every day. These cars are manufactured overseas and make their way to our shores on deep sea car carriers like the Cougar Ace. The Cougar Ace is a massive ship capable of carrying thousands of cars across the ocean, and that’s exactly what it was doing back in late July 2006, carrying over 4,700 Mazdas in the Alaskan waters. That’s when things when awry for this massive car carrier.
In order to keep the ship stable as it sailed, it took on water into its ballast tanks. As the Cougar Ace neared the U.S. shores, it was required to empty its tanks of the foreign water, and refill with local water, so as not to contaminate the water along our shores. It’s a tricky procedure, and a true balancing act, as the crew empties one side to quickly refill before the ship lists. However, on that July day, things went wrong and the balancing act didn’t quite work out for the car carrier, Cougar Ace.
So, how does the story end for the Cougar Ace? An expert team was called in to try and right the ship. A company called Titan, which specializing in saving ships that have run aground or are in danger of sinking, got the call to salvage the ship and its cargo. Within a few days, the crew from Titan was able to pump water from the ship, once again balancing the water weight on both sides, and correct the list. One report from the incident said that 90% of the cargo was saved. Yet, even though the cargo was saved, about a year and a half later, Mazda orders the cars from that car carrier ship to be scrapped. From the time they came off the ship they were stored in a parking lot in Oregon until moved to a conveyer belt and shredded. Mazda said that after the cars spent a week at a 60-90 degree angle, they couldn’t be sure the cars would work properly. So rather than risking law suits on malfunctioning cars, the cars were destroyed. And the Cougar Ace? It went back to work transporting cars overseas.
For more on this story, you can read the Car & Driver article site, or read the article featured on Wired.com about the “high tech cowboys of the deep seas” who saved the ship. Also, below is a video from Wired about the incident.
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