The fire on the cargo ship Felicity Ace, which had burned for more than a week, is likely extinguished and the vessel is now being towed, according to the operator MOL Ship Management.
The ship had been transporting thousands of Volkswagen vehicles, including Porsches, Audis and Lamborghins. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
“There is no oil leakage from the vessel, and the stability of the vessel remains stable. The smoke leaving the vessel has currently stopped and is not visible,” said the statement from MOL Ship Management (Singapore), a unit of Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. Two large tugs from Gibraltar began dousing the flames on Feb. 22.
The fire first broke out on the Panama-flagged vessel on Feb. 16, when it had been sailing in the Atlantic some 90 nautical miles southwest of the Azores, on passage from Germany to the U.S., said MOL, which has set up a website to provide information about the accident. All 22 crew members were safely evacuated to the Azores.
While the fire was still burning on Feb. 24, the fire apparently had been put out on Feb. 25, and a salvage team, flown in by helicopter, was able to board the vessel, which is now being towed by a large salvage craft, called the “Bear,” to a safe area off the Azores, the company said.
In addition, it is also being escorted by two tugs, the “ALP Guard” and the “Dian Kingdom” as well as a large salvage craft, the “V.B. Hispanic,” which has additional firefighting capability.
The total dollar value of goods on the Felicity Ace has been estimated to be $438 million and, of that amount, an estimated $401 million was for cars and goods vehicles, with Volkswagen’s exposure running at least $155 million, according to analysis by Russell Group, a London-based risk solutions consultancy that specializes in supply chain and connected risks.
“These figures showed once again the precariousness of global supply chains. The incident comes at a bad time for global carmakers who are in the middle of a supply chain crisis sourcing semiconductors, resulting in new delays for new cars. An event like this will not do a great deal in instilling trust with consumers,” said Suki Basi, managing director of Russell Group, in a statement issued on Feb. 21.
Photograph: In this undated photo provided by the Portuguese Navy, smoke billows from the burning Felicity Ace car transport ship as seen from the Portuguese Navy NPR Setubal ship, southeast of the mid-Atlantic Portuguese Azores Islands. Photo credit: Portuguese Navy via AP.
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