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Preparations continue to right the disabled car-carrier Cougar Ace as it's slowly towed south of the Aleutian Islands.

Today the salvage team, working from the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau, is attempting to transfer water from the number-nine cargo deck into the number five starboard ballast tank. The water transfer should help to reduce vessel's severe list and provide the ship with additional stability. The loading door on the port side is at the waterline and is taking on water at a rate of three-gallons an hour, but does not threaten to flood the 654-foot ship, says Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis in Anchorage.

Southeast winds of 20 knots and six-foot seas today have not severely hampered the operations.

On Wednesday, the naval architect, salvage team and others on-site were unable to make significant progress due to limited visibility that restricted the use of a Coast Guard helicopter, which was being used to shuttle equipment and personnel to and from the Cougar Ace.

The vessel, which is under tow now by the tug Sea Victory, was shifted to a more northerly course to reduce the roll it was experiencing while on an easterly course. The ship is currently 80 nautical miles south of Herbert Island, or about 200 miles southwest of Unalaska.

In addition to the Morgenthau and Sea Victory, the cutter Sycamore, tug Emma Foss, and utility vessel Redeemer are also on-scene. The sea going tug Gladiator is still en route from Anacortes, Washington, and is expected to arrive Sunday morning.

According to the Coast Guard, no decision has been reached on where the disabled car carrier will be towed after pumping operations are complete. Unalaska, Kodiak and Vancouver, British Columbia, are all options.

The Cougar Ace rolled to port late on the night of July 23rd, after crewmembers adjusted the ballast water used to stabilize the huge vessel. The boat reportedly flipped on its side within 10 minutes. One of the 23 crewmembers was injured, but all were safely airlifted by National Guard and Coast Guard helicopters.

According to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines spokesman Greg Beuerman (beer man), the crew was attempting to remove ballast water, a practice required under international maritime rules to prevent marine organisms picked up at one port from being dumped with the ballast in another part of the world. He said alien organisms can cause significant damage in their new habitat, so the water is released on the high seas.

Beuerman said too much water was probably discharged when the crew was adjusting the ballast.

The ship carries nearly five thousand Mazda automobiles, valued at about 90-million dollars. It had been headed to west coast ports in British Columbia, Washington State and California.


Rushie
 
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