A big cargo ship carrying expensive cars took fire in the Atlantic Ocean last Wednesday and has been blazing for several days. The Felicity Ace, which had a crew of 22 people, has since been abandoned while salvage crews battle the blaze, which is apparently complicated by lithium batteries in some of the cars. The Felicity Ace is a container ship owned by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, and her most recent voyage carried roughly 4,000 automobiles for Volkswagen AG, which owns Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Porsche, and other brands.
Many of the vehicles moved were high-end electric vehicles, with Porsche confirming that 1,100 of the vehicles on board were theirs. According to a recent insurance assessment, the value of the cars onboard was $401 million, with the entire worth of the ships’ contents reaching $438 million. Salvage personnel will continue to try to put out the fires, yet if the inferno is caused by lithium fires, this will be a difficult task. Lithium fires last far longer and use a lot more water than traditional combustion fires. Teslas that have caught fire in recent years have necessitated as much as 20,000 gallons of water to put out.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but the thick white smoke billowing from the ship has decreased in recent days, indicating that an end may be near. The destruction of so many cars comes at a key juncture in the pandemic’s ongoing supply chain problems.
“These data demonstrated the precariousness of global supply chains once again.” The incident occurs at a horrible time for global automakers, which are experiencing a supply chain difficulty sourcing semiconductors, causing further delays in the delivery of new vehicles. “An event like this will not do anything to build customer trust,” said Suki Basi, Managing Director of the Russell Group, in a statement.
The Felicity Ace is still on fire as of February 22nd, as it floats south of the Azores, a group of islands west of Portugal. Two tugboats are currently pouring water at the vessel, with a third expected today, a navy helicopter surveying the area on the 24th, and another tugboat on the 26th. Officials are looking for a swift solution to the ongoing fire, which is currently not pouring oil into the Atlantic Ocean.