Lisbon, Portugal (AP) – A large cargo ship carrying cars from Germany to the United States sank in the middle of the Atlantic on Tuesday 13 days after a fire on board, said the head of the ship and the Portuguese Navy.
“Felicity Ace” sank about 400 kilometers (250 miles) from the Portuguese Azores during towing, according to a statement from Singapore’s MOL Ship Management. The rescue team put out the fire.
The 200-meter (650-foot) vessel is marked on the starboard side before sinking, the ship’s chief said.
The Portuguese fleet confirmed the sinking, saying it took place outside Portuguese waters. A Portuguese Air Force helicopter evacuated 22 crew members when a fire first broke out, causing the ship to drift.
Ocean tugs with firefighting equipment poured water over the hull to cool it.
It was not clear how many cars were on board the ship, but ships the size of Felicity Ace could carry at least 4,000 vehicles.
European automakers declined to discuss how many cars and which models were on board, but Porsche customers in the United States were contacted by their dealers, the company said.
“We are already working to replace every car affected by the incident, and the first new cars will be built soon,” Angus Fitan, Porsche Cars North America’s vice president of public relations, told the Associated Press. .
The ship was carrying electric and non-electric vehicles, according to Portuguese authorities. The suspicion that the fire started on February 16 arose on lithium batteries used in electric vehicles, although authorities say they have no hard evidence of the cause.
Authorities feared the ship could pollute the ocean. The ship carried 2,000 metric tons (2,200 tons) of fuel and 2,000 metric tons (2,200 tons) of oil. It can carry more than 17,000 metric tons (18,700 tons) of cargo.
A statement from the Portuguese Navy said that where the ship had gone, only a few wreckage and a small piece of oil were visible. Tugs smashed the area with hoses, the report said.
A Portuguese Air Force plane and a Portuguese Navy vessel must remain at the scene to look for signs of contamination.