Disasters at sea involving car carrier ships

So many cars lost…

Since 2002, we've seen a few disasters involving car carrier ships.

PCTCs (pure car/truck carrier), as they are known, have a bulky and boxy figure and sometimes you wonder how they stay afloat. Well, they don't always. Over the past years, we've seen severe listings and even ships lost at sea.

2002 MV Tricolor

The Norwegian-flag vehicle carrier named MV Tricolor sunk in the English Channel on December 14th, 2002. The car carrier collided with container ship named Kariba, 20 miles north of the French coast. Kariba managed to sail away, but MV Tricolor sunk with a load of 3,000 cars (BMW, Volvo and Saab).

The crew of 24 sailors aboard the Tricolor was saved by the Kariba and a tugboat. All the cars aboard the vessel were lost. The wreck of the Tricolor also posed a real danger in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Two days later, a cargo ship and an oil tanker ended up crashing into the sunken Tricolor.

[Photo:42422] The recovery of the wreck became imperative, and in 2003 a Dutch company called SMIT Salvage started to recover the oil from the Tricolor tanks. After the recovery of the oil, the best way to recover the wreck was to cut the hull into nine sections of 3,000 tons each. Using a special wire, the salvage company sliced the car carrier and transported each section to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

2006 MV Cougar Ace

Sometimes, only a severe list is all it takes to scrap all the cargo. It was the case of car carrier MV Cougar Ace. The Singapore-flagged ship owned by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) was on route from Japan to Vancouver, Canada with a cargo of 4,800 vehicles. 4,700 were Mazda cars (Mazda3, CX-7, MX-5, RX-8). The rest of the cargo was made of over 100 Isuzu trucks. The cargo was valued at $117 million.

On 23rd July, 2006 she lost stability during an exchange of ballast water south of the Aleutian Islands. The ship developed a 60-degree list to port.

She was salvaged after being towed to Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska. She was righted and returned to her owner. Unfortunately, all the cars were scrapped by Mazda.

2012 MV Baltic Ace

Another car carrier sunk after a collision was the MV Baltic Ace. Operated by Euro Marine Logistics, the 148m carrier collided with container ship Corvus J in the North Sea on 5th December 2012. Baltic Ace was en route from Zeebrugge, Belgium to Kotka, Finland with a cargo of 1,400 Mitsubishi cars for the Russian market.

The collision took place 25 nautical miles of the Dutch coast. 15 minutes after the collision, she sunk in shallow waters.

Weather conditions made the search for survivors difficult. 13 sailors were saved from the 24 that made the crew of Baltic Ace.

The wreck of Baltic Ace rested on the seabed at a depth of only 35m. It was a danger to other passing ships, so, in 2014 the Dutch company Royal Boskalis took on the task to salvage the wreck. Using the same technique as in the case of MV Tricolor, the wreck was cut into eight pieces and transported to a Dutch port for scrapping.

2015 Hoegh Osaka

One of the latest and high profile disaster was the grounding of car carrier Hoegh Osaka in 2015. The Japanese-built ship is owned by Hoegh Autoliners, a Norwegian company that specialises in transporting cars.

The 180m ship developed a severe list on January 3rd 2015 as she was underway between the port of Southampton, United Kingdom and Bremerhaven, Germany. With the rudder and propeller out of the water, the ship grounded on the Bramble Bank off the Isle of Wight.

The cargo was made of buses, construction equipment, Range Rover, Rolls-Royce, and other cars. 1,400 vehicles were on board. She was rescued and towed back to Southampton were the list was reduced to 5-degrees and the cargo was unloaded.

2016 MV Modern Express

The Modern Express suffered a severe list in the Bay of Biscay on February 3rd, 2016. Although she is a car carrier, the ship was loaded with wood and heavy construction equipment.

She was towed into port of Bilbao where the list was corrected.

Photo credits: French Navy, Business Insider, Wikipedia, FleetMon.com, SeaNews, Car and Driver

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