Freighter carrying thousands of luxury cars to US sinks in Atlantic Ocean

A large freighter carrying luxury cars from Germany to the United States sank in the mid-Atlantic on Tuesday, 13 days after a a fire broke out on boardthe shipowner and the Portuguese Navy mentioned. Cars on board the Felicity Ace included Porsches, Lamborghinis and Bentleys, according to the Wall Street Journal reported.

Volkswagen, which said last week the damage to the vehicles was covered by insurance, confirmed the ship had sunk. Insurance adjusters said the incident could result in losses of $155 million, Reuters reported.

The Felicity Ace sank about 250 miles off the Portuguese Azores islands while under tow, MOL Ship Management in Singapore said in a statement. A rescue team had extinguished the fire.

The 200-meter-long ship heeled to starboard before sinking, the ship’s manager said.

Joao Mendes Cabecas, the captain of the nearest port to Faial Island, told Reuters the ship sank as towing efforts began due to structural problems caused by fire and rough seas.

“When the towing started… the water started coming in,” he told Reuters. “The ship lost stability and sank.”

The Portuguese Navy confirmed the sinking, saying it happened outside Portuguese waters at a depth of around 30,000 feet. A Portuguese Air Force helicopter evacuated the 22 crew when the fire first broke out, setting the ship adrift.

A ship carrying luxury cars is on fire and adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
The ship Felicity Ace is seen adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after catching fire, near Portuguese waters on February 18, 2022.

Portuguese Naval Forces/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ocean tugs equipped with firefighting equipment had hosed down the ship’s hull to cool it.

It was not known exactly how many cars were on board the ship, but ships the size of the Felicity Ace can carry at least 4,000 vehicles.

European automakers declined to discuss the number of vehicles and models on board, but Porsche customers in the United States have been contacted by their dealers, the company said.

“We are already working to replace each car affected by this incident and the first new cars will be built soon,” Angus Fitton, vice president of public relations at Porsche Cars North America, Inc., told The Associated Press in an e-mail. -mail.

The ship was carrying both electric and non-electric vehicles, according to Portuguese authorities. Suspicion over what started the fire on February 16 has fallen on lithium batteries used in electric vehicles, although authorities say they have no solid proof of the cause.

Authorities feared the ship was polluting the ocean. The ship was carrying 2,000 tons of fuel and 2,000 tons of oil. It can carry over 17,000 metric tons of cargo.

The Portuguese Navy said in a statement that only a few pieces of wreckage and a small oil stain were visible where the ship sank. Tugboats were breaking up the patch with pipes, he said.

A Portuguese Air Force plane and a Portuguese Navy ship are to remain on the scene on the lookout for signs of pollution.

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