Cargo ship with luxury cars still burning; salvage crews set to arrive

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Cargo ship with luxury cars still burning; salvage crews set to arrive

The Felicity Ace (pictured), a cargo ship carrying thousands of luxury vehicles bound for Rhode Island, continued to burn off the coast of Portugal Tuesday. Photo courtesy Portuguese Navy

Feb. 22 (UPI) — A large cargo ship that initially caught fire last week is continuing to burn while floating off the coast of Portugal, the company that operates it said Tuesday.

Two large tug boats are now on scene and are spraying the 656-foot-long vessel with water to achieve hull and boundary cooling, according to owner MOL Ship Management Singapore.

The two tugs arrived from Gibraltar and further salvage and fire crews are expected to arrive Wednesday and Saturday.

The two tugs will also assist to control the position of the car carrier prior to inspection by the initial salvage team already on site.

Once conditions are safe, salvage teams plan to board the vessel for an initial assessment of future salvage plans.

The Felicity Ace, a roll-on/roll-off car carrying ship built in 2005, was transporting cargo including Porsche and Volkswagen vehicles from Germany to Rhode Island when it caught fire last Wednesday.

Salvaging the massive ship will not be cheap. The operation could cost as much as $150 million, according to a new report issued by the Anderson Economic Group. The firm’s revised estimate of the value of the ship’s lost cargo is pegged at $334.6 million.

The economic impact will also be felt in New England, where an already-strained supply chain for autos will now get worse for some car dealers.

“To lose all those cars is devastating to the industry,” Subaru of New England chief executive Ernie Boch Jr. told WCVB-TV. “[The vehicles] were all sold, by the way, because right now, cars are so in-demand that when they’ve manufactured and they come off the line, they’re sold.”

The vessel is not currently leaking oil, according to the latest updates.

All 22 crew members on board escaped after the fire broke out and were evacuated from the ship by the Portuguese Navy.

The Navy said the fire broke out in the cargo hold while the ship was sailing 90 nautical miles southwest of Portugal’s Azores island chain but quickly spread.

UPI

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