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Car carrier — and Bentleys, Porsches and Lamborghinis — sinks

Felicity Ace was en route from Germany to Rhode Island with estimated 4,000 vehicles when it caught fire

The car carrier Felicity Ace, which was en route to the United States when it caught fire, has sunk. (Photo: Portuguese navy)

The car carrier Felicity Ace has sunk — and with it about half a billion dollars worth of luxury vehicles.

“Initial reports from the local salvage team state that the vessel had sunk at around 9 a.m. local time (5 a.m. EST Tuesday) having suffered a list to starboard,” MOL Ship Management Singapore said in a statement. 

According to the incident information center, the Felicity Ace was about 220 nautical miles off the Portuguese Azores in the Atlantic Ocean when it sank. The vessel, owned and operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), reportedly was carrying about 4,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles, including Audis, Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Porsches. 

A fire broke out Feb. 16 aboard the Felicity Ace about 90 miles southwest of the Azores while the car carrier was en route from Emden, Germany, to the Port of Davisville in Rhode Island. All 22 crew members were safely evacuated. Abandoned, the Felicity Ace drifted to the south while two large tugs with firefighting equipment and salvage crews made their way to the scene. 

Although no cause of the fire has been disclosed, Reuters reported some of the vehicles on board were electric and equipped with lithium-ion batteries, which may have made extinguishing efforts more difficult.  

In an update last Thursday, MOL Ship Management said the car carrier was “still assumed to remain on fire” but no oil leakage had been detected and the Felicity Ace remained stable.

“White smoke from the vessel is still visible, which has been reduced [compared] to the past few days,” MOL said in that update. “Two large tugs continue to spray the vessel with water cannons to achieve hull and boundary cooling.”

The last update from MOL had been Friday, when it reported smoke was no longer visible and that the Felicity Ace was being towed “to a safe area” off the Azores. 

Bloomberg pegged the value of the vehicles on board at $401 million. 

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Click here for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.


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Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.