Huge freighter carrying luxury cars sinks in mid-Atlantic

A large freighter carrying cars from Germany to the United States sank in the middle of the Atlantic on Tuesday, 13 days after a fire broke out on board, the shipowner and the Portuguese navy said.

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 650-foot-long ship heeled to starboard before sinking, the ship’s manager said.

The Portuguese Navy confirmed the sinking, saying it happened outside Portuguese waters. A Portuguese Air Force helicopter evacuated the 22 crew when the fire broke out, setting the ship adrift.

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

It was unclear how many cars aboard 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 email. 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 2,200 tons of fuel and 2,200 tons of oil. It can carry more than 18,700 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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