Authorities are struggling to fight the fire being kept alive by EVs lithium-ion batteries.
When we first learned of the Felicity Ace, CarBuzz reported the blazing car carrier had been abandoned by all 22 crew members following an uncontrollable fire. Over 1,000 Porsches and nearly 200 Bentleys were left on the ship, undoubtedly lost to the floating inferno. Reuters reports authorities are struggling to control the fire that broke out last week. While the cause is still unknown, a number of electric vehicles on board have made it more challenging for emergency responders to douse the flames.
Joao Mendes Cabecas, captain of a nearby port in the Azorean island of Faial, told the news agency the lithium-ion batteries are "keeping the fire alive" and said specialist equipment to fight the fire was en route. "The intervention (to put out the blaze) has to be done very slowly," he said. With nearly 4,000 VW Group vehicles on board, there could be any number of electric vehicles on the Felicity Ace, including several examples of the pricey Porsche Taycan.
With myriad Porsche and Bentley models aboard the car carrier, the total financial loss will be substantial. But it's set to get worse, as several Lamborghinis are also on the burning ship. The number of Italian exotics on board is currently unknown, but it certainly adds an extra sting to an already painful story. Ingolstadt's luxury carmaker has also said there are Audis on board, although the exact amount is currently unknown.
As the fire spread below deck, Cabecas noted rescue teams can only fight the fire from outside, by cooling the ship's structure. Currently, it's still too dangerous for anyone to go on board. The mission is proving particularly difficult, as adding more water to the ship could make it unstable. While the fire is still a safe distance from the fuel tanks, it is spreading. "Everything was on fire about five meters above the waterline."
If the fire does manage to spread to the car carrier's fuel lines or tanks, the consequences could be catastrophic, especially with the electric vehicles on board. While the loss of countless vehicles is a concern for the automotive industry - especially in the midst of a crippling chip shortage - the environmental damage would be a disaster.
Tug boats are currently steaming towards the Felicity Ace, with three reported to arrive by Wednesday. The 200-meter-long ship will have to be towed to a nearby European country or the Bahamas, as it is too big for the Azorean port. Once salvaging begins, we will know the true extent of the damage caused by this freak accident.