By on December 6, 2012

1,400 new cars, most of them Mitsubishis on their way from Japan and Thailand to Finland went to the bottom of an icy North Sea when the 485 foot car carrier Baltic Ace sunk off the coast of the southern Netherlands last night.

The ship had collided with the container ship Corvus J.  According to Reuters, the collision was caused by “human error.” The ship had a crew of 24. Most of them were rescued by helicopters, at least five died, some are missing.

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47 Comments on “Car Carrier Sinks In The North Sea...”

  • avatar

    “1,400 new cars, most of them Mitsubishis”

    Mostly Mitsubishis? My heart will go on.

  • avatar

    I know they’re struggling in the US, but what’s Mitsubishi’s overall financial health like? If it’s less than stellar, I wonder if they went with a sub-par shipping company for the transport of their vehicles.

  • avatar

    It’s a shame that people had to die trying to get Mitsu’s of all things to Finland. ):

    • 0 avatar

      Not a fan of Mitsu but yes a shame indeed some people had to die over a lousy accident.

      • 0 avatar

        You retards are pathetic. So it’s OK when some truck driver dies in an accident delivering your favorite marque, the replacement parts to repair your cars and the materials to make those cars, or worse yet food,clothing and other materialistic items to make your life better because you 4 wheelers caused that accident!But you won’t read about that on this site. So much for being the Best and Brightest.

        And yes I am proud to call my self a truck driver.

  • avatar

    I know the site is to be about cars, but you might want
    to state the loss of lives first before the loss of cars.
    Show some respect.

    • 0 avatar

      Right Mor2bz. I thank the web site for posting the story, but the loss of at least 5 lives is a lot worse than losing 1,400 cars. The way that the article was written, the loss of human life was almost an afterthought compared to the loss of the cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. The loss of only the boat/cars might be fodder for a bit of humor….but the loss of any life from this incident makes it off-limits to any humor at all. It just isn’t funny.

      How fast did that vessel sink? Most large vessels go down fairly slowly. Why couldn’t those poor guys get off the ship in time?

  • avatar

    Is Baltic Ace in any way related to the Cougar Ace that nearly capsized, and in the process destroyed a load of Mazda’s?

    Who hit whom? If Baltic Ace was at fault, I wonder if there is a systemic problem, relating to either equipment ir training, in the shipping firm itself.

    • 0 avatar

      Did you know that Ford GT and Toyota GT 86 are not made by the same company or even at the same time?

      No, these ships are not related

    • 0 avatar

      To play devil’s advocate for Robert.Walker- Its not uncommon at all for all of the ship’s in a fleet to carry some form of the same name (ie: Eagle Toledo, Eagle Tuscon, Eagle Otome, etc.). His question of fleet affiliation is not far from possible even though *cough* Wikipedia *cough* said otherwise.

    • 0 avatar

      Although… to somewhat confirm the ever so questionable Wikipedia-

      M/V Cougar Ace and M/V Baltic Ace share no common flag states, classification societies, ownership companies, or managing organizations.

  • avatar

    This just in: Mitsubishi happy it sells 1,400 cars all at once to insurance company.

  • avatar

    This is all part of Mitsubishi’s “Reputation Improvement Program”.

  • avatar

    Looks like it is, or was, a sub-sea shipping company. Unfortunate loss of life. With all of the radar, GPS, and radio communications in sea navigation, it takes true negligence to collide in open water.

    • 0 avatar


      Technology and better protocol have nearly eliminated mid-air collisions. It’s amazing that relatively low-speed ships can collide using similar technology… assuming it was turned on and working.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        Airplanes can alter course on the X, Y, and Z axis. Ships get X and Y only – until they hit and potentially get a huge -Z out of it.

        If airplanes were all forced to fly on the same Z axis and could never deviate, you would have an insane number of mid-air collisions.

  • avatar

    “1,400 new cars, most of them Mitsubishis”

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    I think in the North Sea it’s surprising that anyone survived. The choppers must have been fast because the water is cold. Operated all over those waters during the cold war. When the boat would start to snorkle it was freezing. That was dry.

    My heart goes out to everyone involvd.

  • avatar

    Rest in peace for the victims and prayers for their families. This collision has me thinking of what kinds of safety systems big ships like this have. In the automotive world we’re looking at the prospect of autonomous cars and even if we don’t do that, we already have collision avoidance systems. Considering that ships were about the first application of radar I’m surprised that they haven’t implemented safety systems to avoid human error like this. I can understand a shipwreck when close to shore/port under manual piloting, but out on the open sea there is no excuse for this kind of loss of human life due to a collision between two boats.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Both ships had AIS transponders. You can clearly see from the AIS readings that the Baltic Ace and Corvus J were approaching nearly perpendicular to each other, with the Baltic Ace having right-of-way. Corvus J turned to starboard to allow Baltic Ace to pass with the intention of crossing behind her stern with the Baltic Ace to port. That is what is proper.

      However, Baltic Ace did not maintain course, drifting a few points to port and bringing her in line with Corvus J. Did she not believe Corvus J was turning fast enough and a command to alter course get transposed? Hard to say.

      These ships carry the absolute minimum crew possible, most crew members are uneducated and from very poor nations and know nothing about marine navigation, leaving just the captain and officers who occasionally need to go to the bathroom or sleep. The collision happened at night, with high winds, rain, heavy seas.

      Autonomous cars are one thing, autonomous ships are quite another. First, you are in international waters, ships of all nations have the right to be there. Not all nations will agree to force the cost of autonomous navigation onto their fleets. First-world nations say that any ship above a certain size must have AIS transponders to enter their harbors – they can do the same for autonomous navigation equipment. But then you still have to worry about the tens of thousands of other ships out there that don’t have either piece of equipment, not to mention the tens of thousands of small boats that don’t even show up on radar (wood and fiberglass are pretty “stealth”) and can only be seen by the human eye.

      Collisions happen; the people responsible will be dealt with. Technology isn’t going to solve the problem.

      • 0 avatar

        Indeed. And cars have these things called “brakes.” If the radar/cameras on cars equipped with collision avoidance options detect imminent danger, they just activate the brakes. Boats; not so much. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but suffice it to say that a loaded ship of this size would measure its emergency stopping distance in miles.

        Even with technology, nighttime navigation is no joke. Imagine painting all your windows of your car flat black and driving to work using only your gps… Even if you’re allowed a radar system, it isn’t going to be pretty.

      • 0 avatar

        “And cars have these things called “brakes.””

        I have a stupid question. Would spinning a propeller in the opposite direction act as a “Brake” and effectively stop a ship?

        Read elsewhere that the Dutch have called off search for the 6 missing crew members. That puts the total fatalities at 11. The captain who I bet “accidentally fell into a life raft” was among the rescued.

      • 0 avatar

        No matter how hard I squint, I am unable to clearly see the AIS readings. All I see is a picture of a boat.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “I have a stupid question. Would spinning a propeller in the opposite direction act as a “Brake” and effectively stop a ship?”

        Yes indeed, but just like a long train it takes a very long time to come to a stop. Many miles. A train, on the other hand, will stay on its tracks while braking. A ship’s ability to steer is proportional to the amount of water running past her rudder. Throwing the propellers into full reverse will cause massive cavitation under the hull, diminish steering ability, and possibly even cause the ship to slip sideways.

        The AIS readings:

    • 0 avatar

      Inertia is a bitch and add to that weather you get, ugly. Just plotting a course isn’t all that’s necessary. If the wind picks up, especially with something like a RoRo, those slab sides act like sails.

      Sometimes it’s like Fate has got your ass. It doesn’t matter what you do, how you respond, you are going to to have to kiss your ass goodbye.

    • 0 avatar

      These Ro-Ro’s also have a problem in that if there is a hull breach, there is absolutely nothing to stop the water rushing in and immediately filling the decks – they’re almost completely open from one end of the vessel to the other with no bulkheads. When this happens the water tends to quickly fill one side of the ship and causes it to capsize. This is my guess as to why there were fatalities.

  • avatar

    People may joke about insurance and make out this event was of little consequence because of the type of cars lost. IMO the jokes and attitudes are in poor taste and immature.
    When a boat such as this sinks there is a huge financial loss to all parties. The insurance company takes a huge hit but never pays the full value out does it? The ship owner will need to replace the ship in order to continue earning revenue. Jobs are lost. Mitsubishi will lose frustrated customers due to stock shortage. Search and rescue is not cheap, tax payers and buisnesses pay dearly.
    The families of the lost crew members lives will be forever changed.
    Each ship that sinks is it’s own environmental disaster to whether you care about the environment or not.
    Nothing about this event is even remotely funny. It is lose, lose situation.

  • avatar

    The ship had a crew of 24. Most of them were rescued by helicopters, at least five died, some are missing.

    very sad 5 folks perished.
    God help all of us.

    a shit that size usually hard to change course in a hurry.
    the smaller ship has to yield.
    sadly they both turn the same way!

    • 0 avatar

      I appreciate your comment, despite the unfortunate (or amusing) typo.

      However, it is a (common) myth that the smaller ship has to yield. International collision regulations are here, and they specify a hierarchy based upon maneuverability, not size:

      Since both ships were under power, the following applies, “the vessel which has the other on the starboard side must give way and avoid crossing ahead of her.” The other vessel was the “stand on vessel” and should have maintained its course and speed.

      Ultimately, though, both are at least partly responsible under the collision regulations if they had any way to avoid the collision. That’s one of the great things about the regulations as written – no one is excused as having “right of way”. All captains are responsible for avoiding collisions whenever possible, no matter what the other vessel does or does not do.

    • 0 avatar

      I think what’s funny is, even with the typo, that statement it still true in the unintentional context.

  • avatar

    If a Mitsubishi falls into the sea, and no one’s around to hear it, does anyone care?

    Still, unfortunate that lives were lost.

  • avatar

    I think people should be aware that, unfortunately, this sort of casualty is not uncommon. Most people are not in tune with maritime news unless it intersects with some other interest they may have (i.e. car carriers) or is uncommonly terrible (i.e. Costa Concordia). One only needs to wikipedia shipwrecks of 2012 or any other year.

    As a maritime deck cadet I am constantly reminded about the importance of training, but until more facts come to light it is difficult to judge what may have happened. Just because they were flying a flag of convenience does not mean they did not have a qualified wardroom. As previously mentioned factors such as sea state, traffic density, light from the shore, visibility and countless others become intermingled with potentially conflicting information the deck officer may have been receiving from his lookout (probably only one), his radar, and his AIS to create a ambiguous situation. This of course assumes the radar was functioning properly and that both ships were broadcasting accurate AIS information.

    Also, something to consider regarding the rules of the road; One could potentially have two experienced watch officers who know the rules well enough to pass licensing exams but could look at the same situation and see entirely different conditions which would mean the two ships were applying conflicting rules. It will be interesting to see the extent to which they were communicating. This does not mean that mistakes were not made or that a well paid deck officer is not expected to overcome these hurdles just that ocean navigation is still a demanding trade.

  • avatar

    Just about as likely to start.


  • avatar

    1400 Mitsubishi’s at the bottom of the ocean… I guess that’s Evolution.

  • avatar

    Five year old ship TC’d in a very busy channel. She had eight large open decks that quickly flooded. Its the natural thing for vessels to pull apart after a collision. Its better to stay stuck together until damage can be better assessed while keeping inflow to a minimum. Rough weather may not have been conducive.

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