Flaming luxury car transporter finally sinks
The cargo ship Felicity Ace, carrying almost 4,000 luxury vehicles, has sunk off the Azores archipelago, likely taking with it any hope of finding out what caused the fire that has been raging aboard the vessel since last month. The ship sank at approximately 9am local time on Tuesday, according to MOL Ship Management, the managers of the Panama-flagged vessel.
The ship was seen listing to starboard before sinking, leaving behind debris and an oil slick on the water above as it went down about 220 nautical miles off the Azores. The Department of Pollution of Portugal’s National Maritime Authority and the European Maritime Safety Agency are monitoring the dispersal of the slick, according to the Portuguese Navy.
It took over a week to put out the fire, which was unusually persistent due to the notoriously flammable lithium-ion batteries contained in the electric vehicles on board. However, it’s not clear what started the blaze, and tugboats and salvage ships were in the process of towing the 650ft-long ship to port in order to perform a detailed examination of the remnants of its cargo.
However, before they could reach a port capable of handling the wreck, the salvagers preparing to board the Felicity Ace were hit by rough weather, which may have contributed to the vessel sinking. The estimated value of the cargo on board was $400 million, according to risk analysis firm the Russell Group, and the loss of the vehicles is likely to exacerbate already sky-high demand for cars in the US, which has suffered supply-chain disruptions since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
According to an internal email from Volkswagen, the ship had been carrying 3,965 vehicles, including high-end cars manufactured by Porsche and Lamborghini as well as others by Audi and VW. The vessel caught fire on February 16 en route from Emden, in Germany, to a port in Rhode Island, US. All 22 crew members were safely evacuated.