Skip to Main Content

Volkswagen Cargo Ship Goes Up in Flames Crossing Atlantic Ocean

Volkswagen Cargo Ship Fire Atlantic Ocean | Undefeated Maritime Lawyer

A cargo ship transporting thousands of luxury vehicles to the United States from a Volkswagen plant in Germany caught fire while crossing the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday morning, forcing its entire 22-member crew to evacuate the vessel.

Fortunately, all managed to escape the flaming ship without injury.

Felicity Ace Fire Erupted in Cargo Hold

The Felicity Ace was about 200 miles off the coast of Terceira Island in the Azores when a fire erupted in the cargo hold on the morning of  February 16th . Portuguese forces moved in later that day to evacuate the crew.

Helicopters flew the evacuees to the nearby Portuguese island of Faial. According to authorities, no crewmembers or rescuers were injured during the “highly skilled and physically demanding” operation.

Towing boats from Gibraltar and the Netherlands also arrived at the scene Wednesday. However, they will not be able to tow the Felicity Ace to the Azores, as the mammoth ship would likely block trade at the port.

Electric Car Lithium-Ion Batteries Hinder Firefighting Efforts

The Felicity Ace remains ablaze and adrift in the  Atlantic. An ocean patrol vessel is on-site to monitor the abandoned ship.

“The ship is burning from one end to the other… everything is on fire about five meters above the waterline,” captain Joao Mendes Cabecas of the port of Hortas told Reuters.

Because lithium-ion batteries in the electric cars on board have caught fire, special equipment is needed to extinguish the blaze. So far, it’s not clear whether those batteries sparked the fire.

 3,965 VW, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, and Bently Vehicles Onboard

Although Volkswagen US has yet to confirm the exact number of vehicles involved,  an internal company email obtained by the German newspaper Handelsblatt said the Felicity Ace was carrying 3,965 VW, Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini brand vehicles.

Porsche has since confirmed that 1,100 of its vehicles were aboard.

“While it remains too early to confirm what occurred and next steps, we are – along with our colleagues at Porsche AG – supporting our customers and our dealers as best we can to find solutions,” said Angus Fitton, Vice President of PR at Porsche Cars North America, according to CNN. “We are in contact with the shipping company, and the details of the cars onboard are now known.”

Felicity Ace Fire Could Worsen Auto Industry Supply Chain Woes

The Panama-flagged Felicity Ace is owned by Snowscape Car Carriers SA and managed by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. Constructed in 2005,  the nearly 650-foot-long vessel can carry 17,000 metric tons of cargo and up to 4,000 vehicles.

The ship left Emden, Germany, on February 10th and was expected to arrive in Davisville, Rhode Island, on February 23rd.

The fire could not have come at a worse time for the automotive industry, which was already struggling with supply-chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and record demand driven by low interest rates.

This is not the first time Volkswagen has lost merchandise at sea. The Grande America caught fire and sank near France in 2019, resulting in the loss of more than 2,000 luxury cars, including Audis and Porsches.

Undefeated Maritime Lawyers with Billions Won: Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consultation.

Having won Billions including Record-Breaking Verdicts and Settlements  – following the worst offshore disasters in history, our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers have the resources and experience to take on the largest corporations in the world and ensure our clients and their families are fully compensated for all of their injuries and losses.

If you or someone you love were injured or tragically killed in connection with an offshore accident or explosion, call 1-888-603-3636 or click here to send us an email through our “Contact Us” form.

Our maritime attorneys will answer your questions, explain your rights, and provide the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.

To learn more about our success representing maritime workers and their families, Click Here to see what our clients have said about their experience with our firm.

Consultations are always free, and you won’t owe us a penny unless we win your case.