On fire for the 6th day, the car carrier Felicity Ace continues to sail away from the Azores, with thousands of luxury cars still burning inside.
The fire broke out on the ship on February 16, 2022, when Felicity Ace was off the Portuguese Azores. On February 10, 2022, the Panamanian-flagged vessel left the port of Emden in Germany. The destination, according to ship tracking services, is the port of Davisville (Rhode Island, USA), where the ship was supposed to arrive on February 23.
The alarm signal was announced on February 16, when the ship was already in the Atlantic Ocean, not far from about. Faial, part of the Azores archipelago. The 22 members of the ship’s crew were evacuated by the Portuguese Navy on the same day.
Vessel operator MOL notes that the ship remains stable, no contamination has been reported. Reuters, citing representatives of port services in the Azores, reported that it was not possible to speed up the extinguishing of the car transporter. It is carried out by fire boats, which can only weaken the fires from the outside of the vessel.
To complicate matters, an unspecified number of vehicles on board are electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries, and water cannot extinguish a fire in such a battery.
Lithium-ion batteries are toxic and potentially explosive, which, together with the risk of fuel tanks exploding, makes it impossible for firefighters to board a burning vessel to more effectively contain the fire.
About 4,000 vehicles from Germany were reportedly on board, including 1,100 sports Porsches and 189 Bentleys owned by Volkswagen. The ship continues to drift in the Azores.
The sides of the ship in distress warped from the heat. The nearby Portuguese Navy does not intervene in the process, but monitors the state of the vessel. It is known that the military of Portugal participated in the rescue of the crew – first, people were taken on board by an oil tanker that turned out to be nearby under the Liberian flag, and then they were taken to land by military helicopters.
According to SMIT, the company expects to put firefighters on the ship to complete work during the current week, as soon as “stable” conditions appear to contain the remaining “hot spots”. As soon as the fire is extinguished, tugboats will take the ship to a safe place.
The cause of the fire has not yet been established. At the moment, there is no confirmation that it was the batteries that caused the fire on the ship. According to a Russell Group spokesperson, the total cost of cars on board could be as high as US$500 million.