Abandoned Car Carrier still Burning with 4,000 Cars Onboard
The Felicity Ace, a specialist cargo ship carrying more than 4000 cars, caught alight near the Azores on Wednesday 16th Feb. Cars aboard the vessel, include Audis, Bentleys, and Porsches, various ones containing lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are “keeping the fire alive,” according to a captain of the nearby Faial Island port, João Mendes Cabeças. Cabeças also noted that special equipment needed to extinguish the battery fire is en route.
The vessel’s 22 crew members were evacuated but the fire continues to burn and has been for several days now.
Insurance experts at Russell Group said they estimated that $438m of goods were on the ship, including an estimated $401m of cars and goods vehicles. Suki Basi, the group’s managing director, said the incident would result in losses of at least $155m for Volkswagen, which owns Porsche, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini.
“These figures showed once again the precariousness of global supply chains,” Basi said. “The incident comes at a bad time for global carmakers, who are in the middle of a supply chain crisis sourcing semiconductors, resulting in new delays for new cars. An event like this will not do a great deal in instilling trust with consumers.”
The ship’s operator, MOL Ship Management (Singapore), said on Monday 21 February that the vessel was “still assumed to remain on fire south of the Azores, drifting further away from the islands”.
It said two firefighting tugboats were due to arrive at the site of the ship on Monday and would “start spraying water to Felicity Ace together with the patrol boat with the initial salvage team onboard already on site to cool down the heat from the vessel”.
The company said the ship remained stable and was not leaking oil. Another salvage craft with firefighting equipment is due to arrive from Rotterdam on 26 February.
Wednesday 02/03/22 Update
The fire-ravaged car carrier Felicity Ace has sunk near Azores nearly two weeks after it caught fire, the vessel’s manager said on Tuesday.
“Initial reports from the local salvage team state that the vessel had sunk at around 9 a.m. local time having suffered a list to starboard,” said MOL Ship Management (Singapore), a subsidiary of Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL). “The last vessel position was around 220 nautical miles off the Azores.”
All 22 crew members were safely rescued and the the 200-meter-long ship was left adrift and ablaze after it caught fire on February 16 while transporting thousands of vehicles—including Porsches, Audis, Volkswagens, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys—from Emden, Germany to Davisville, R.I. The cause of the fire is unknown.
Salvors had been working to battle the blaze, but their efforts were hampered by lithium-ion batteries in some of the electric vehicles on board, according to port officials. Eventually, the flames began to subside, and by February 25 smoke was no longer rising from this ship, clearing way for salvage crews to embark the fire-stricken vessel, MOL said.
Insurance experts have said the incident could result in losses of at least $155 million for the car manufacturers.
Image sourced from here.