By now, you might have already read the news about a burning cargo ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Called the Felicity Ace, a fire broke out in the cargo hold of the ship, forcing all 22 crew members to abandon the ship, including the captain. Fortunately, the Portuguese Navy was able to rescue all the crew members.
Currently, the ship continues to be ablaze and is now adrift off the Azores near Portugal. But just how many cars were lost due to the fire?
Based on the ship’s design, the Felicity Ace can carry more than 5,000 vehicles. Fortunately, it was reportedly carrying less when it caught fire last week. Porsche has already confirmed that it has 1,100 cars aboard the burning ship. Meanwhile, Audi and Volkswagen, and Bentley are still waiting for more information regarding the number of cars they loaded into Felicity Ace.
It’s estimated, however, that there are a total of around 4,000 cars inside the burning Felicity Ace. That means out of the total number estimated, only 1,100 vehicles are from Porsche.
As to what caused the fire in the first place, that remains to be a mystery. But according to João Mendes Cabeças, captain of the nearest port in the Azorean island of Faial, lithium-ion batteries in the electric vehicles aboard the ship are what's keeping the fire alive after five straight days.
This somewhat confirms that the ship was carrying electric vehicles or hybrids. But why can’t firefighters immediately put out the blaze? According to Cabeças, only special equipment can be used to put out burning lithium-ion batteries. Water, unfortunately, will not be able to do it. As per Cabeças, the fire is still far from the ship's fuel tank.
To make matters worse, the fumes from the burning batteries are toxic and potentially explosive in nature, making it even harder for firefighters to combat the blaze. For now, Portuguese firefighters can only combat the fire by cooling down the ship’s structure as it’s currently too dangerous to go onboard. They also cannot use more water as adding weight to the already affected ship might make it unstable. As of now, the ship appears to be listing to one of its sides.
Multiple salvage efforts are underway in order to control the blaze and bring the ship to a nearby port using tug boats. Once the blaze is under control, the Panama-flagged ship will be towed to Europe or to the Bahamas. It is still unclear as to when that will be.