By Jennifer Korn
A derelict freighter full of cars is adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, after a rapidly spreading fire on board forced the crew to escape.
The 656-foot-long Felicity Ace car carrier caught fire in the North Atlantic on Wednesday while ferrying cargo, including Porsches and Volkswagens, from Emden, Germany, to Davisville, Rhode Island . At the time of the outbreak of the fire, the ship was sailing 90 nautical miles southwest of the Portuguese Azores, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Portuguese Navy.
After the fire started in the cargo hold, it spread and forced all 22 crew members to abandon ship. According to another statement from the Portuguese Navy, the crew were safely picked up and taken to a local hotel, with the rescue being coordinated by the Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center in Ponta Delgada. There were no notable sources of pollution from the fire, the statement said.
The ship’s owners have arranged a tow as it continues to burn. Registered in Panama, the Felicity Alice is operated by the Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL). MOL did not respond to request for comment.
Porsche confirmed to CNN Business that a number of its cars were part of the shipment and that customers with cars aboard the burning ship are being contacted by their dealerships.
“Although it is still too early to confirm what happened and the next steps, we support – together with our colleagues at Porsche AG – our customers and dealers as best we can to find solutions,” said Angus Fitton, vice president of public relations at Porsche. North American cars. “We are in contact with the shipping company and the details of the cars on board are now known.”
Prospective Porsche owners with cars on board like journalist and host Matt Farah, who said he has a 2022 Porsche Boxster Spyder awaiting delivery, have already started receiving updates from dealers about the status of their cars. vehicles.
“The dealer confirmed that my car, along with at least a dozen other vehicles they were expecting, was on that boat,” Farah said. “They had no other information for me beyond confirming that my car was on the boat, and said as soon as Porsche Cars North America had any plans on how to proceed, they would share the plans with me. .”
Volkswagen too has customers waiting for vehicles on the burning freighter. “We are aware of an incident involving a third-party freighter carrying Volkswagen Group vehicles across the Atlantic. The vessel was en route to North America,” said Dirk Ameer, a Volkswagen spokesman. “At this time, we are not aware of any injuries. We are in contact with the shipping company to get more information about the incident.
The Felicity Ace can carry more than 17,000 metric tons of cargo, according to the Associated Press, with possibly thousands of cars on board. The Portuguese Navy said that as of Thursday the fire was continuing and an ocean patrol boat remained on site to monitor the abandoned vessel.
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