DETROIT – Mazda Motor Co. says it won't sell as new any of its 4,700 cars on board a ship that severely listed on its side south of Alaska's Aleutian Islands in July.
The Cougar Ace was transferring ballast in the Pacific Ocean on July 23 when it listed 60 degrees onto its port side, probably damaging some of the cars it was hauling from Japan to three ports on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada, said Mazda spokesman Jay Amestoy.
The ship, which traveled under the Singapore flag, was towed into Portland, Ore., Tuesday morning, where damage was being assessed, officials said.
Mazda doesn't know how many cars were damaged or to what extent, Amestoy said, but he said all would be sold as used cars with full new-car warranties. The fact that they were aboard the ship will be disclosed to potential buyers.
"We won't sell any of them as new even though we don't know the condition of any of them," Amestoy said. "Our policy here is just to make sure the consumer is fully aware of everything."
Greg Beuerman, a New Orleans-based spokesman for the ship's owner, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines of Tokyo, said there were 4,812 cars on board. About 100 were not Mazdas, but he said the shipping company's agreement with the manufacturer prevents him from disclosing who made them.
Most of the cars on board were Mazda 3 compact cars and CX-7 SUVs, but there were a small number of RX-8 and MX-5 Miata sports cars on the ship, Amestoy said.
The cars were strapped onto the ship's 14 decks using a special system in their bumpers, Amestoy said. No cars fell into the ocean, he said.
Beuerman said the ship rolled onto its port side while the crew was releasing water ballast into the Pacific, as required by maritime rules to prevent the introduction of foreign aquatic life into U.S. waters.
It took more than a month to right the ship, which keeled over so far onto its side that its propeller was out of the water.
The Singapore government is investigating what made the ship list during the ballast change, which happened in international waters, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
A naval architect was killed when he slipped and hit his head while aboard the then-sideways ship. All the ship's crew had been rescued safely by the Alaska Air National Guard and the Coast Guard.
Mazda increased production in Japan and sent cars to the U.S. from other regions to make up for the automobiles on board, so the incident should not have an impact on the company's new-car sales for the month, Amestoy said.