Salvage crews are making their way to the massive fire on the cargo ship Felicity Ace. It’s been burning off the shores of the Portuguese Azores since Wednesday, Feb. 16. The fire was so severe it forced the evacuation of the entire crew, all of whom made it off safely.
Now, the ship is drifting with its cargo of nearly 4,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles from Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Audi and VW, according to Reuters. Many of those cars are already expected to be total losses as the ship burns to its waterline.
Automotive News reports the estimated value of the cars lost on board is over a quarter billion dollars:
“A quick estimate, assuming that the ship was only partially full (or that a portion of the cargo is salvaged undamaged), is that there is at least $255 million or more in lost vehicles, plus many millions in salvage costs on top of that, and downstream losses in auto dealerships. It could be more,” American economist Patrick Anderson said.
It seems lithium-ion batteries in the electric cars on board have —pardon the pun —added fuel to the fire after they started burning as well, and they will require specialist equipment to get under control. However, it still isn’t clear whether the batteries played a role in sparking the fire initially.
That being said, a 16-person crew is still on their way to salvage what is left of the cars and the Felicity Ace itself. At the same time, a multinational team of tow ships are also en route. They are coming from Gibraltar and the Netherlands. The trio of boats is expected to reach the Felicity Ace by next Wednesday. According to captain Joao Mendes Cabescas of the port of Hortas, the ship cannot be towed to the Azores, the closest port, because it’s far too big and would block trade at the port.
Around 1,100 Porsches and 189 Bentleys were on board, a spokesperson for Volkswagen Group said. However, it isn’t known exactly how many of the other impacted brands’ vehicles are also on the ship.
One of those 1,100 Porsches was meant for automotive journalist and YouTuber, Matt Farah. He posted on Twitter that his new Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder was on board.
The Panama-flagged ship is owned by Snowscape Car Carries SA is managed by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. At the time it caught fire, it was traveling from Emden, Germany, where Volkswagen has a factory. It was heading to Davisville, Rhode Island.
There isn’t any real way of knowing what the state of the cars on board is, but if I was a betting man, I’d gamble the house of “fucked.”