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Car Carrier Accidents at Sea

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. #1 Tricolor, 2002
  2. Cougar Ace, 2006
  3. Baltic Ace, 2012
  4. Hoegh Osaka, 2015
  5. Modern Express, 2016
  6. Golden Ray, 2019
  7. Felicity Ace, 2022
  8. Conclusion
Car Carrier Accidents at Sea

Accidents involving car carriers traversing seas don't happen all too often. But when they do, lives are lost, cars don't arrive, leading to losses of millions of dollars, and there are often significant environmental repercussions.

Car carrier accidents at sea have been occurring since 2002. There have been eight major accidents since then. We'll cover these past disasters and inform you of what could go wrong when shipping overseas.

#1 Tricolor, 2002

The Tricolor, a Norwegian vehicle carrier, crashed with the container ship Kariba in the English Channel on December 14, 2002.

The Kariba and a tugboat thankfully saved the crew of 24 sailors aboard the Tricolor. However, all 3,000 cars aboard were lost.

Moreover, this accident caused an environmental and navigational hazard due to the large wreck blocking traffic in the area.

The wreck was eventually cut into nine sections of 3,000 tons each and transported to Zeebrugge port in Belgium to mitigate this danger. But this operation was incredibly complex and required special equipment and expertise.

It took several weeks for all nine sections to be removed from the English Channel, thus restoring safe navigation for ships in the area.

The Tricolor remains one of the most tragic maritime accidents in recent history due to its devastating impact on human and marine life.

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Cougar Ace, 2006

The Cougar Ace was a Singapore-flagged car carrier owned by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) carrying 4,800 vehicles from Japan to Vancouver, Canada.

On July 23, 2006, the ship developed a 60-degree list to port, which caused the ship to be in danger of capsizing. Ultimately, all 24 crew members had to be rescued by the US Coast Guard.

The vessel was eventually salvaged and returned to its owner, but Mazda had to scrap all the damaged cars.

The cause of the incident is still unknown, but it is believed that improper loading may have been a factor. Other factors like strong winds and high waves could have caused instability on board.

The Cougar Ace incident serves as a reminder of how important it is for ships to adhere to safety regulations and proper loading procedures to prevent similar accidents.

The incident also emphasizes the need for proper training of crew members and emergency protocols in place to respond to unexpected situations.


Baltic Ace, 2012

The Baltic Ace was a car carrier that tragically collided with the container ship Corvus J in the North Sea on December 5, 2012.

The accident resulted in the loss of 11 lives, with only 13 sailors rescued from the 24-member crew.

The wreck of Baltic Ace rested on the seabed at a depth of only 35m, making it accessible for salvage operations.

In 2014, Royal Boskalis took on the task of salvaging the wreck by cutting it into eight pieces and transporting it to a Dutch port for scrapping. The crew undertook an incredibly complex operation that required precision and skill due to its location and size.

It was also difficult for those affected by the tragedy, as they had to come to terms with what had happened while watching their loved one's vessel being salvaged from the sea.

Hoegh Osaka, 2015

The Hoegh Osaka was a car carrier owned by Norwegian shipping company Hoegh Autolines that ran aground off the Isle of Wight in 2015.

When the incident occurred, the ship was carrying an impressive cargo of 1,400 vehicles, including buses, construction equipment, and Range Rover and Rolls-Royce cars.

After the incident, the ship was towed back to Southampton, where it was stabilized at five degrees and the cargo unloaded.

The salvage operation of the Hoegh Osaka was complex due to its size and weight. It took several days for the tugboats to tow it back to Southampton and then unload all of its cargo.

The crew of the vessel was praised for their quick thinking in stabilizing the ship before it could suffer any further damage. The incident highlighted how important safety protocols are when dealing with large vessels like this one.

Modern Express, 2016

On February 3, 2016, the Modern Express suffered a severe list in the Bay of Biscayan. The ship was loaded with wood and heavy construction equipment, making it difficult to right itself.

After several attempts to correct the list, the vessel was eventually towed into the port of Bilbao, where it was successfully corrected.

The cause of the list is still unknown, but experts believe that strong winds and high waves were responsible for pushing the ship off balance.

This incident again highlights the importance of taking safety precautions when traveling in rough waters. Having a well-trained crew who can respond quickly and effectively in emergencies is also crucial.

Golden Ray, 2019

The Golden Ray carrier, carrying 4,200 Kia and Hyundai motor vehicles, capsized off the coast of Georgia on September 8, 2019.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report, an error in the chief officer's stability calculations led to the tragedy. Additionally, two watertight doors weren't closed.

The total loss of the ship and its cargo amounts to an estimated $62.5 million and $142 million.

The NTSB recently released its recommendations following an investigation. The board recommended that G-Marine Service Co. Ltd., which operated the vessel, create procedures for verifying stability calculations and departure checklists before a vessel leaves port.

The NTSB also suggested that G-Marine Service Co. Ltd. should ensure that all personnel involved in operating vessels are appropriately trained and qualified to do so. The company should also develop a system to monitor compliance with safety regulations and procedures.

Additionally, a review of the ship's emergency response plans was recommended. The company should consider implementing additional measures to reduce the risk of similar incidents going forward.


Felicity Ace, 2022

Carrying many luxury cars on board, such as Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche, the Felicity Ace caught on fire off Portugal's coast on February 16, 2022.

Deck after deck was aflame, including electric cars that contained lithium-ion batteries. Subsequently, the fire couldn't be extinguished for six days.

It has since sunk into the Atlantic Ocean. And to this day, no one has found the cause of the fire.


Car carrier accidents overseas result in loss of life and environmental consequences. When you need a car shipped safely, reliably, and efficiently, come to us at A-1 Auto Transport.

We work with you to ship every kind of vehicle. Check out our services and calculate a shipping estimate on our website. Give us a call today.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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