The U.S. Coast Guard said it has suspended the search for the remaining crew member of a large car carrier adrift in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,800 miles northwest of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, following a fire.
Sincerity Ace, a Panamanian-flagged roll-on/roll-off vessel with a capacity of 5,200 vehicles, was headed to Hawaii and U.S. mainland ports with Nissans, and possibly other vehicles. The vessel master reported a significant pre-dawn fire Monday and abandoned ship.
Sixteen crew members were rescued by merchant ships responding to distress calls, but four remain unresponsive and are feared dead, according to the Coast Guard’s latest bulletin.
Sincerity Ace, built in 2009, is owned by Shoei Kisen Kaisha and chartered out to Mitsui OSK Lines, a major vehicle carrier. Shoei Kisen Kaisha is formalizing a salvage plan and has dispatched commercial tugs to the scene, the Coast Guard reported. Salvage vessels will also attempt to recover the four unresponsive mariners still in the water.
The Coast Guard said the vessel is listing to starboard and still on fire. The cause of the fire and status of the cargo are unknown, the Coast Guard said.
No details about the cargo have been officially disclosed, but MOL's vessel schedule shows Sincerity Ace loading vessels at Nissan auto terminals in Yokohama and Kanda. The car carrier was bound for Honolulu, followed by Mazatlan, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Port Canaveral, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Newport News, Va.; and Baltimore.
Nissan Motor Co. confirmed it has about 3,500 vehicles on board the troubled carrier. MOL said in an email to Automotive News that the Sincerity Ace was carrying 3,804 units of passenger cars and construction equipment.
Honda Motor Co. said on Thursday that it has 41 vehicles on the stricken vessel. Toyota Motor Corp. said it did not have vehicles on the ship.
“We have no information on the condition of the vehicles at this time,” a spokesperson told Automotive News. “Our thoughts are with the crew members as well as the safety of the rescue teams.”
In 2006, Mazda’s cargo of 4,700 vehicles had to be scrapped after the MOL vessel Cougar Ace lost stability and listed heavily on a voyage from Japan to North American West Coast ports. The vessel was righted and salvaged after being towed to harbor for repair in the Alaskan islands.
Urvaksh Karkaria contributed to this report.