A 650-feet-long Panama-flagged car carrier ship Felicity Ace, carrying 4,000 Porsche and Volkswagen cars from Emden, Germany, has caught fire in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The ship had left Germany on February 10 and was scheduled to arrive Davisville in the US state of Rhode Island on February 23.
Built in Japan in 2005, the Felicity Ace is equipped specifically to carry cars; it’s not configured to transport other types of cargo. It’s about twice as long as a football field, 105 feet wide, and its deadweight tonnage (payload for ships, essentially) checks in at almost 20,000 tons.
22 crew members were rescued from the vessel after it issued a distress signal when a fire broke out on board the ship near the Azores island of Faial.
A statement released by the Portuguese Navy confirmed that the rescue operation had been undertaken in response to an alert from the Panama-flagged ship.
The Portuguese Navy’s NRP Setubal patrol ship, four merchant vessels in the area, and Portuguese Air Force assets were activated to provide support and bring the crew to safety.
As of February 16, the 650-foot-long ship was abandoned and drifting east. Tug boats will be dispatched to tow the Felicity Ace to a harbor and the ship will most likely be declared a total loss due to the damage caused by the fire.
“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,” a spokesperson for Porsche said.
A statement from Volkswagen read, “We are aware of an incident today involving a cargo ship transporting Volkswagen Group vehicles across the Atlantic. At this time, we are not aware of any injuries. We are working with local authorities and the shipping company to investigate the cause of the incident.”