Ship carrying 1,100 Porsches and other luxury cars burns and drifts
A gigantic freighter that was carrying thousands of vehicles, including 1,100 Porsches, was on fire and drifting off the Azores on Thursday after its 22 crew members were rescued from the ship.
The fire broke out Wednesday morning in the cargo hold of the ship, called the Felicity Ace, which had left Emden, Germany, on Feb. 10 and was scheduled to arrive in Davisville, RI on Wednesday, according to a ship tracking website. The ship was about 200 miles from the island of Terceira in the Azores, the Portuguese island territory, when Portuguese forces intervened on Wednesday to evacuate the crew.
No rescuers or crew members were injured in the “highly skilled and physically demanding” operation, which included a helicopter that flew crew members to the nearby Portuguese island of Faial, authorities said.
It was unclear how much of the 650-foot, 60,000-ton freighter’s inventory had been lost in the fire and how authorities would deal with the stricken vessel. The shipping company could not be reached immediately.
The Drive, an automotive website, reported that the Volkswagen Group estimated nearly 4,000 vehicles were on board, including 189 Bentleys. Emails sent to the Volkswagen Group did not receive an immediate response.
The blaze comes as showrooms across the country try to keep up with consumer demand amid supply chain issues caused in part by the pandemic. Low interest rates, higher savings rates and government stimulus payments have boosted demand, while automakers have struggled to cope with a shortage of computer chips.
Matt Farah, car enthusiast and editor of The Smoking Tire, had been waiting since August for his 2022 frozen berry metallic Boxster Spyder, with a retail price of around $123,000 and modified to his precise specifications. “Hands down the best sports car of all time” he wrote.
He received disappointing news Wednesday, he said, “I just got a call from my dealership. My car is now adrift, possibly on fire, in the middle of the ocean.
In a statement on Thursday, Farah said a Porsche representative confirmed his car was on the boat and apologized for the inconvenience.
“That was yesterday, and I haven’t heard any updates since,” he said. “I’m glad no one was injured in the fire and everyone is safe, which is the most important thing. I’m sure that whatever happens in the future, Porsche will do this. what is needed for its customers.”
In a statement late Thursday, a spokeswoman for Porsche Cars North America said 1,100 company cars were on board but the fate of the vehicles was unknown. She encouraged customers worried about their car to contact their dealership.
“Our immediate thoughts are relieved that all 22 crew members of the merchant vessel Felicity Ace are safe and sound,” the statement read.