New York (CNN Business) An abandoned cargo ship packed with cars in the Atlantic Ocean was forced to flee by crew following a rapidly spreading fire on board.
The 656-foot (200-meter) Felicity Ace carrier caught fire on Wednesday as it was loading cargo, including Porsche and Volkswagen vehicles, from Emden, Davisville, Rhode Island, Germany, into the North Atlantic. The Portuguese navy said in a statement on Wednesday that the ship was 90 nautical miles (160 km) southwest of the Port of Azores at the time of the fire.
Following the outbreak of fire in the warehouse, 22 crew members were forced to abandon the ship. According to another report by the Portuguese navy, the crew was taken safely to a local hotel, with rescue operations coordinated by the Ponta Delcata Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center. According to the report, there was no significant evidence of contamination from the fire.
The ship’s owners have arranged for it to be towed while it is still burning. Registered in Panama, Felicity Alice is operated by Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL). MOL did not respond to a request for comment.
Porsche confirmed to CNN Business that many of its cars were in stock and that its dealers were communicating with customers about the cars on the burning ship.
“Although it is very soon to confirm what happened and the next steps, we, along with our colleagues at Porsche AG, continue to provide our customers and dealers with the best possible support in finding the best possible solutions,” said Angus Fitton, Vice President of Public Relations. Porsche cars in Porsche AG North America. “We are in touch with the shipping company and now the details of the cars on board are known.”
Future Porsche owners, such as journalist and presenter Matt Farah, who said the 2022 Porsche Baxter Spider was waiting for delivery, have begun to ask dealers about the condition of their vehicles.
“The dealer confirmed that my car and at least a dozen waiting vehicles were on the boat,” Farah said. “I have no other information beyond confirming that my car is on board, and if Porsche cars have any plans on how to proceed to North America they will share it with me.”
Volkswagen also has customers waiting for vehicles on the burning cargo ship. “We are aware of an incident involving a third-party cargo ship carrying Volkswagen Group vehicles across the Atlantic Ocean. The ship sailed to North America,” Volkswagen spokesman Dirk Amir said. “At this time we do not know of any injuries. We have been in contact with the shipping company for more information about the incident.”
The Felicity Ace can carry more than 17,000 metric tons of cargo, according to the Associated Press, with thousands of cars on board. As of Thursday, the Portuguese navy said the fire was continuing and that a patrol boat was on site to monitor the abandoned ship.
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