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Car Carrier vessel taking on water south of Aleutian Islands


July 24, 2006

The Singapore flagged vessel Cougar Ace, a 654 foot car carrier owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, remains disabled Monday evening and listing at 90 degrees 230 miles south of the Aleutian Islands. The Cougar Ace left Japan on July 22, with 23 people on board.

The Cougar Ace is a Singapore homeported vessel, carrying 4,813 vehicles, en-route to Vancouver B.C. The vessel is carrying 430 metric tons of fuel oil and 112 metric tons of diesel. According to the USCG, there is a sheen extending 2 miles from the vessel.

jgp Cougar Ace, car carrier

Singapore flagged vessel Cougar Ace, a 654 foot car carrier 
Official Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Joseph Zemchak 

A crewmember from the Singapore based container ship Cougar Ace contacted the North Pacific Search and Rescue Coordination Center at 11:09 p.m. Sunday. The crewmember reported Sunday night that the Cougar Ace was taking on water and listing 80 degrees. One crewmember has a broken leg. There were no other reported injuries Monday according to the United States Coast Guard. All crewmembers were wearing survival suits.

The Coast Guard determined it was too dangerous to stay on board and preparations were underway to abandon the ship.

The Coast Guard cutter Rush, a 378-foot cutter based out of Hawaii, and a C-130 aircraft and crew from Air Station Kodiak were deployed to assist. The 378-foot cutter Rush, already in Alaskan waters, was diverted from another mission and is expected to arrive on scene in approximately 20 hours.

jpg Cougar Ace

Singapore flagged vessel Cougar Ace, a 654 foot car carrier
Official Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Joseph Zemchak 

The Air Force and Air National Guard deployed two blackhawk helicopters accompanied by two HC-130 aircraft with in-flight refueling capabilities, all carrying parachute deployable rescue teams, from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Fairbanks and Kulis Air National Guard Base in Fairanks to assist in the rescue operation.

A Coast Guard C-130 aircraft out of Kodiak dropped a liferaft as a safety measure for the possibility of the vessel capsizing.

The merchant vessel Ikan Juara was on the scene standing by to assist.

A Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter and crew from Air Station Kodiak, working with two Air National Guard Pavehawk helicopters with rescue crews from Kulis Air National Guard Base, sucessfully hoisted the twenty three crewmembers of the Cougar Ace to safety Monday night.

The rescue operation began at 9:05 p.m, Monday. By 9:30 p.m., the first seven crewmembers had been hoisted from the vessel by a Pavehawk helicopter. At 9:43 p.m., the Coast Guard helicopter and crew had hoisted the next eight, departing for Adak at 9:51 p.m. After completing a mid-air refuelling from a nearby Air National Guard C-130 tanker, the second Pavehawk helicopter hoisted the remaining crewmembers at 10:09 p.m..

Weather conditions during the operation were overcast skies with 8 knot winds.

Aside from one crewmember with a broken leg who will be taken to Anchorage for medical attention, there were no reported injuries.  The remaining crewmembers will be taken to Adak and then transported to Kodiak, where they will spend the night.

Tuesday they will be taken to a location as yet to be determined.

According to the Coast Guard, the cause of the damage and the source of incoming water were unknown Monday evening.


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Ketchikan, Alaska