Marine Log

USCG photograph

August 1, 2006

Fatality in Cougar Ace salvage effort

A four-man salvage team was able to access and survey the car carrier Cougar Ace on Sunday. However, while conducting the survey, one of the team members-a naval architect-- fell and died from injuries sustained in the fall.

The 654 ft vessel reported that it was listing on July 23. The 23 crew members wre rescued by helicopter on July 24. The vessel has since remained adrift.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the salvage team initially attempted to board the Cougar Ace from the vessel Makushin Bay, but members were unable to climb up the structure.

The team successfully accessed the vessel using the Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau's HH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

The salvage team commenced a survey of the vessel's engine room and some of the cargo decks. After the survey was completed and the team was disembarking the Cougar Ace a member of the team slipped and fell. He was knocked unconscious. The other team members conducted CPR on the scene.

He was immediately medevaced to the Morgenthau. After conducting CPR for over an hour, he was pronounced dead by the Coast Guard flight surgeon.

A safety assessment is underway.

The initial survey was successful. The team looked at the number one and nine decks. The team determined that the cargo on the number one deck, the highest deck, remains in place. Cargo on the ninth deck has also remained in place. The engine room is intact and there is no sign of water.

There are a total of fourteen car cargo decks on the Cougar Ace.

The Cougar Ace was at last report 140 nautical miles south of Amlia Island in the Aleutian Island chain. It has been adrift since approximately 1 a.m. Monday. The vessel is being pushed by the wind at about one knot. Since about 4 p.m. Wednesday the vessel was on a mostly northern route. Friday it took a east course. It is still on that course.

The 378-foot Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau is on scene monitoring the Cougar Ace for signs of pollution and tracking its movement. A non -recoverable sheen has been noted emanating from the bow section of the vessel in the vicinity of the bow propulsion system. The sheen extends approximately 25-75 yards.

Five other vessels are being used to respond to the Cougar Ace. The tug Sea Victory was expected to arrive on scene late yesterday from Seattle. The Coast Guard cutter Sycamore, a 225-foot sea going buoy tender from Cordova, has arrived on scene.

The Unified Command is continuing to develop plans to right the vessel and safely tow it. No determination has been made as to where the vessel will be towed.

Weather conditions on scene are reported as seven knot winds from the southwest. Sea state is one foot seas and swells. Conditions are overcast with eight nautical miles of visibility.

The amount of fuel on board has been confirmed as 142,184 gallons of Intermediate Fuel Oil (IFO) 380 and 34,182 gallons of marine diesel.