- The Felicity Ace continues to burn south of the Azores islands in Portugal
- The blaze started on Wednesday after lithium-ion batteries in electric cars on board the ship caught fire
- Crew members have been evacuated and efforts to extinguish the fire and save the ship continue
A cargo ship containing 3,965 vehicles from brands such as Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini, among others, continues to burn south of the Portuguese Azores islands.
The Felicity Ace, which is owned by a subsidiary of Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines, was traveling from Emden, Germany, to the port of Davisville in Rhode Island when it caught fire in the Atlantic on Wednesday, reported the Providence Journal.
Lithium-ion batteries in electric cars aboard the 656ft Panamanian-flagged vessel caught fire and required specialized equipment to extinguish, according to Reuters.
About 1,100 vehicles from Porsche and 189 cars from Bentley were on board the Felicity Ace, spokespersons for the automotive brands owned by Volkswagen said.
Audi, another Volkswagen brand, confirmed that some of its vehicles were also on the ship, but the company did not say how many.
The current condition of the vehicles aboard the freighter is unknown.
A 16-person rescue team from SMIT Salvage, a subsidiary of Dutch maritime service provider Boskalis, was dispatched to the ship in response to the fire.
“Large equipment” was on its way from Spain and the Netherlands to help fight the ongoing fire, Boskalis said in a statement.
Additionally, two large firefighting tugs were due to arrive at the scene from Gibraltar on Sunday and Monday.
The Felicity Ace, which was too large to be brought to the Azores, should be towed to mainland Europe if it is deemed seaworthy after the fire is extinguished, according to the Providence Journal report.
Whoever salvages the vessel is entitled to compensation based on the value of its cargo as well as the condition of the vessel, in accordance with maritime law.
If it were to be towed to Europe, a negotiation would likely begin between the ship’s owner and the salvage company over payment, said Jonathan Gutoff, a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law who teaches law. maritime.
The 22 crew members of the Felicity Ace were evacuated the day the fire broke out, the Portuguese Navy said in a statement.
A Marine Branch patrol boat along with four merchant ships assisted in the rescue, The Washington Post reported. Aircraft from the Portuguese Air Force were also mobilized.
The evacuated crew were then taken to a hotel in the Azores, where they were safe and healthy, according to Seatrade Maritime News.
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