Abandoned luxury car ship is still burning at sea – vehicles lost could total £290million

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The abandoned cargo ship Felicity Ace, packed with hundreds of millions of pounds worth of Audis, Porsches, Bentleys and Lamborghinis is still ablaze and drifting in the Atlantic ocean almost a week after the fire started. It’s believed that lithium-ion batteries in many of the electric cars on board are prolonging the fire.

Portuguese navy helicopters rescued the 22-man crew without injury last week but the blaze on the ship is yet to be put out because specialists will be required due to the explosive nature of the EV batteries.

A release yesterday from insurance risk analysts Russell said that the total dollar value on board the ship was estimated at $438 million (£322million) of which $400million (£290million) was made up from the luxury cars present.

Suki Basi, Russell Group MD commented: “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.”

She added: “An event like this will not do a great deal in instilling trust with consumers.

“Using our ALPS Scenario Factory, we identified that the Volkswagen brand and its subsidiaries do indeed have a significant exposure to this event, running into the millions.”

Firefighting teams have so far only been able to fight the fire from outside by cooling down Felicity Ace’s structure as it’s still too dangerous to go on board.

They are unable to use water because adding weight to the ship could make it more unstable, and traditional water extinguishers do not stop lithium-ion batteries from burning.

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In a statement released yesterday the ships owners, MOL said: “Two large tugs with firefighting equipment will arrive on the site today Feb 21 AM local time, and will start spraying water to Felicity Ace together with the patrol boat with the initial salvage team onboard already onsite to cool down the heat from the vessel.

“Arrival of the two large tugs will enable to assist the vessel from drifting away and join the monitoring of the vessel with the Portuguese navy 24 hours.

“The additional salvage craft with firefighting equipment is set to arrive from Rotterdam with ETA delayed to February 26.

“Together with all relevant parties, MOL is making every effort to contain the damage and resolve the situation as soon as possible.”

According to an internal email from VW USA and reported by a German newspaper, the ship was carrying 3,965 vehicles.

That included 1,100 Porsches according to a company spokesperson who said: “‘Our immediate thoughts are of the 22 crew of the merchant ship Felicity Ace, all of whom we understand are safe and well as a result of their rescue by the Portuguese Navy following reports of a fire on board.”

In addition to the Porsches and VWs, there were also 189 Bentleys on the ship, the Drive reported.

The cheapest available Bentley is the Bentayga SUV at £146,700.

The 656 foot-long ship caught fire as it sailed from Germany to Rhode Island in the US to deliver the luxury cars.

As reports of the fire filtered through, some customers began to get emails telling them the cars they had ordered were onboard.

The Felicity Ace is roughly the size of three football fields.

It is believed to be floating back Eastwards, although some systems still operating should aid in keeping it located.

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