Cargo ship carrying £300million of luxury cars has sunk – now at bottom of Atlantic
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The ship, which was packed full of hundreds of millions of pounds worth of luxury VW group cars including Bentleys, Audis, Porsches and Lamborghinis was being towed back to shore when structural problems caused by the fire and rough seas caused it to plummet to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean.
Joao Mendes Cabecas, the captain of the nearest port on the island of Faial, said: “When the towing started… water started to come in.
“The ship lost its stability and sank.”
There were around 4,000 high-end cars on board, many of which were electric vehicles (EVs) powered by lithium-ion batteries, which it’s believed may have caused the initial fire.
Lithium batteries are explosive in nature and burn longer and at a higher temperature than normal batteries.
The crew of the ship were evacuated by Portuguese navy helicopters without injury when the blaze started in February.
After specialist teams continuously doused the ship with water it was being towed to the Azores before it sank.
Mr Cabecas said no oil leak has been reported at this time, but there are concerns the fuel tanks could be damaged.
The ship is now some two miles down at the bottom of the ocean.
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Pat Adamson, a spokesperson for MOL Ship Management (Singapore) who owns the ship said: “The weather was pretty rough out there, and then she sank, which was a surprise.
“There doesn’t appear to be any oil pollution yet – they’re checking on that.”
Salvage teams reported the ship listed 45 degrees to starboard after being battered by waves, before sinking 220 miles off the Azores.
Crews are monitoring the area and a Navy ship with divers and clean-up equipment will return to the site once resupplied.
A release from insurance risk analysts Russell said that the total dollar value on board the ship was estimated at $438 million (£322million) of which $400million (£290million) was made up from the luxury cars present.
Some buyers in the USA where the ship was heading before the fire received emails telling them the cars they had ordered were likely lost.
Suki Basi, Russell Group MD commented: “These figures showed once again the precariousness of global supply chains.
“The incident comes at a bad time for global carmakers who are in the middle of a supply chain crisis sourcing semiconductors, resulting in new delays for new cars.”
According to an internal email from VW USA and reported by a German newspaper, the ship was carrying 3,965 vehicles.
That included 1,100 Porsches according to a company spokesperson who said: “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.”
In addition to the Porsches and VWs, there were also 189 Bentleys on the ship, the Drive reported.
The cheapest available Bentley is the Bentayga SUV at £146,700.
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