On February 16th, the internet was set ablaze with news about Felicity Ace, the cargo ship which caught fire while carrying close to 4,000 luxury cars made by Volkswagen subsidiaries.
The ship was travelling from Germany to the USA, on board, there were Porsches, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, and other luxury cars from the Volkswagen Group both electric and non-electric models. According to Captain Joao Mendes Cabecas of the port of Horta, it was the lithium-ion batteries in the electric vehicles aboard the ship that caught fire. Luckily, all 22 crew members of the ship were saved by the Portuguese Navy when the fire broke out, none had any serious injuries.
Felicity Ace operator, MOL (Mitsui O.S.K. Lines) Ship Management, had reported that the fire and the smoke leaving the ship has been stopped, after a week of firefighting efforts. The next plan was to tow the vessel to the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, where investigations would be done to determine the cause of the fire.
MOL then issued a press release stating that the ship “suffered a list to starboard” before sinking around 9 a.m. local time on 1st March. Its final location is approximately 220 nautical miles (about 250 miles) away from the Azores.
Analysis by Russell Group, an Incident Insurance experts, pegs the total value of goods on the Felicity Ace at an estimated $438 million, and of this figure some $401 million relates to cars and goods vehicles. The analysis found that the fire is believed to cost at least $155 million in losses for Volkswagen Group.
Strangely, the ship was stable and had been boarded by salvage crew before it sank. MOL concluded their statement saying that, “The salvage crafts will remain around the area to monitor the situation. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.”
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