A ship carrying Porsches, Audis and Bentleys catches fire near the Azores
the Felicity Asa huge freighter carrying thousands of Volkswagen Group vehicles, caught fire near the Azores islands in the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday afternoon.
The 22 crew members of the Panamanian-flagged ship were evacuated and taken to a local hotel by the Portuguese Navy and Air Force, which were deployed to help with the rescue effort, according to a declaration of the Navy. The ship itself was left unmanned and adrift.
An internal email from Volkswagen AGUS operations revealed that there were 3,965 vehicles on board the vessel. Based in Wolfsburg, Germany, the group manufactures cars under brands including VW, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini, all of which were under tow when the ship caught fire.
More than 100 of those cars were heading to the Port of Houston in Texas, with VW GTI, Golf R and ID.4 models deemed to be at risk, according to the email. The auto industry is already grappling with supply issues, including pandemic-related staffing issues and global chip shortages.
Porsche spokesman Luke Vandezande said the company estimates around 1,100 of its vehicles were among those on board. Felicity As at the time of the fire. He said customers affected by the incident are being contacted by their dealerships. “Our immediate thoughts are of relief that the 22 crew of the merchant ship Felicity As are safe and sound,” Vandezande said.
A spokesperson for Lamborghini’s US operations declined to comment on the number of cars the company has on board or the models affected, but said they were in contact with the shipping company for more information on the incident.
Some customers expressed their disappointment on social media. A Twitter user reported his customized Porsche Boxter Spyder was aboard the ship. Standard models of the vehicle start around $99,650.
The Boxster Spyder with Deman 4.5 engine and short gears is hands down the best sports car ever. I specified it exactly as I wanted it. There is no movement. https://t.co/egaYJV5VEC
— Matt “I park cars” Farah (@TheSmokingTire) February 16, 2022
Felicity As was about the size of three football fields and was en route to a port in Davisville, Rhode Island, when a distress signal was issued due to fire on one of her cargo decks.
Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, the operator of Felicity Ace, said it had commissioned a salvage company to assess the situation. A first team arrived in the Azores and was expected to reach the ship later Friday. “Additional salvage assets are being prepared to assist the vessel,” the company said. said in a press release. “MOL will do everything possible to contain the damage and resolve the situation as top priorities.”
The vessel’s registered owner is Snowscape Car Carriers SA, and the protection and indemnity insurer is Britannia Steam Ship, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
This is not the first time that the VW group has lost vehicles at sea. When the Great America caught fire and sank in 2019, more than 2,000 luxury cars, including Audis and Porsches, sank with it.
–With assistance from Monica Raymunt and Takashi Amano.
Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.
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