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Mazda says it will scrap 4,700 cars that were aboard listing ship

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Mazda said Friday it will scrap the 4,700 cars on a ship that severely listed on its side south of Alaska's Aleutian Islands last summer.

The Cougar Ace was transferring ballast in the Pacific Ocean on July 23 when it listed 60 degrees onto its port side. The ship was hauling the cars from Japan to three ports on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada.

In September, Mazda said it didn't know how many of the vehicles were damaged, but said they would be sold as used cars with full new-car warranties. And the fact that they were aboard the listing ship was to be disclosed.

But following testing by its engineers, Mazda changed its mind.

``We decided the most appropriate course of action _ with our customers foremost in mind _ was not to sell any of the 4,703 Mazdas aboard the ship,'' Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Mazda North American Operations, said in a statement.

The ship, which travelled under the Singapore flag, was towed into Portland, Ore., in September for repair.

The ship's owner, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines of Tokyo, had said there were 4,812 cars aboard. About 100 were not Mazdas, but the shipping company's agreement with the manufacturer prevented the owner from disclosing the manufacturer.

Most of the cars aboard were Mazda 3 compact cars and CX-7 SUVs, but there were a small number of RX-8 and MX-5 Miata sports cars on the ship. The cars were strapped onto the ship's 14 decks using a special system in their bumpers.

It took more than a month to right the ship, which keeled over so far onto its side that its propeller was out of the water.

Although some of the Mazdas aboard the Cougar Ace showed little or no visible damage, the potential for future problems led the company to reconsider its initial decision to sell any of the vehicles as used, O'Sullivan said.

Mazda had increased production in Japan and sent cars to the U.S. from other regions to make up for the automobiles aboard.

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Mazda says it will scrap 4,700 cars that were aboard listing ship
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