Monday. 04.03.2024

Efforts to extinguish a growing fire on a cargo ship carrying about 4,000 German cars belonging to the Volkswagen Group in the Atlantic Ocean are proving complicated.

Dutch salvage experts are trying to work out how to put out the fire on the vessel as it drifts some 170 kilometres south of the Azores.

The 22 members of the crew of the almost 200-metre-long Felicity Ace were safely evacuated soon after the fire broke out on Wednesday.

Flames broke out on one of the car decks and the fire subsequently spread from the bow to the stern.

The high temperatures have melted the side of the ship in some places.

The ship is listing, meaning the fire cannot be put out with water, according to João Mendes Cabeças, the captain of the port of Porto da Horta on the island of Faial, the closest to the vessel. Using water could wash toxic substances into the sea, he told the Correio dos Açores newspaper on Saturday.

Electric cars burning

Many of the vehicles on board are electric models whose batteries made putting the fire out even more complicated, he said.

Three ocean-going tugs are expected to reach the Felicity Ace by Wednesday.

Volkswagen confirmed that the ship was carrying new VW Group cars.

However, a spokesperson did not confirm media reports that the shipment included about 1,100 Porsches as well as multiple Bentleys and Audis.

Firefighting efforts prove complex as ship burns with cars on board