FILE PHOTO: The ship, Felicity Ace, which was traveling from Emden, Germany, where Volkswagen has a factory, to Davisville, in the U.S. state of Rhode Island, burns more than 100 km from the Azores islands, Portugal, February 18, 2022. Photograph:( Reuters )
The Felicity Ace, carrying around 4,000 vehicles including Porsches, Audis and Bentleys, some with lithium-ion batteries, caught fire on Wednesday last week
A Portuguese navy official has said that salvage crews are set to board a blazing ship carrying luxury cars.
The Felicity Ace, carrying around 4,000 vehicles including Porsches, Audis and Bentleys, some with lithium-ion batteries, caught fire on Wednesday last week.
Two ocean-going tugboats with firefighting equipment have hosed down the ship’s hull to cool it, according to the port of Horta harbormaster, Capt. Joao Mendes Cabecas, on the Azores island of Faial.
The cause of the fire is not known, Mendes Cabecas said, though suspicion has fallen on lithium batteries in electric vehicles the Felicity Ace was taking from Germany to the United States.
“We know from what the captain told us that there were a lot of electric vehicles on board, as well as non-electric vehicles,” he said.
The fire broke out on a cargo deck where the vehicles were stowed, according to Mendes Cabecas, but when the alarm went off there was already too much smoke to make out where the blaze had started.
Mendes Cabecas said there was currently no threat of pollution. Hoses are not being aimed inside the vessel, to avoid runoff from lithium batteries going into the sea.
Ship manager Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd (MOL) said in a statement the vessel was still on fire but stable, and that no oil leak had been reported so far. It also said the ship was drifting further from the Azores islands in the Atlantic ocean.
"Together with the all relevant parties, MOL is making every effort to contain the damage and resolve the situation as soon as possible," MOL said.
"When conditions are safe the salvage team will board the Felicity Ace for an initial assessment," MOL added.
The ship is carrying 2,000 metric tons (2,200 tons) of fuel and 2,000 metric tons (2,200 tons) of oil.
The weather in the area, 190 nautical miles (350 kilometers/220 miles) south of the Azores, is fair, with a swell of less than 2 metres (6.5 feet).
(With inputs from agencies)