Cargo Ship Goes Down With Hold Full of German Automobiles

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
cargo ship goes down with hold full of german automobiles

After two weeks of smoldering in the Atlantic Ocean, a cargo ship loaded with several thousand German automobiles has sunk. Packed with over 4,000 vehicles from Volkswagen Group, the Felicity Ace (pictured) originally gained notoriety for being a successful fire rescue mission conducted in open waters. But it was later revealed that a large number of the cars onboard were higher-end products from brands like Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini — making the salvage operation that followed likewise engaging.

Due to the immense size of the Felicity Ace, it would need to be towed several hundred nautical miles back toward Portugal so it could be serviced. Crews reportedly arrived on February 25th to evaluate the ship and prepare it for the trip back East. However, the cargo vessel began listing until it started to fall onto its starboard side and is now deemed unsalvageable. It’s assumed that the craft will be sinking near its current position, roughly 220 nautical miles from off the Portuguese Azores, taking its vehicular cargo along for the ride.

While it’s been hard getting timely or verifiable information on the ship, it does have a website dedicated to giving updates on its present status. Singapore’s MOL Ship Management has been helping to organize the salvage operation, the Felicity Ace flies a Panamanian flag, the Portuguese Navy and Air Force were responsible for the initial rescue, and the tow vessels are primarily from the Netherlands.

The original plan was to use a large salvage craft, called Bear, to haul the ship closer to the Azores so that it could be more thoroughly inspected before being towed back to the coast of Portugal. Assistance was given by the ALP Guard and Dian Kingdom tugs, which flanked the ship. Despite the ship having continued smoking for a number of days, it was assumed that the fire was dying down. Rescue teams had been spraying the vessel with water for days and the Felicity Ace did not appear to be leaking oil, making it eligible for the trip.

But it started listing on Tuesday morning, with the assumption being that it’s just a matter of time before it goes down. While this would be a meaningful setback for any automaker, the high number of premium vehicles has put Volkswagen Group in a difficult position. There are rumors that the lost Lamborghinis will require the company to resume production of the V12 Aventador to make good on existing orders. Several hundred custom Porsche and Bentley vehicles headed for North America will also need to be built again.

The same goes for a gaggle of Audi and VW-branded electric vehicles, though those cars were also going to be part of the subsequent fire investigation after rampant speculation that the blaze was created by their lithium-ion batteries. Rescuers haven’t attributed the blaze (first reported on Feb. 16th) to anything. But it was noted that EV batteries could have exacerbated the problem, encouraging the media to muse over the possibility of a thermal runaway incident starting the fire.

It’s a plausible scenario, though one of many and still lacking any hard evidence. Sadly, any useful information will likely go down with the ship — along with 189 Bentleys, over 1,000 Porsches, several dozen Lamborghinis, and rows upon rows of VW and Audi products.

[Image: Marinha Portuguesa/Portuguese Navy]

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  • Fendertweed Fendertweed on Mar 19, 2022

    Jeez, the libtard vs fecktard vs trumptard stuff is *so* old and *so* tired …

  • Rizziriz Rizziriz on Apr 10, 2022

    No one talks about the toxicity of making and disposing of Lithium Ion batteries. If people new they would never buy an electric car. Where are the environmentalist now ?

  • JMII This is why I don't watch NASCAR, it just a crash fest. Normally due the nature of open-wheel cars you don't see such risky behavior during Indy car events. You can't trade paint and bump draft with an Indy car. I thought it was a sad ending for a 500. While everyone wants a green flag finish at some point (3 laps? 5 laps?) red flagging it is just tempting people too much like a reset button in a game.The overall problem is the 500 is not a "normal" race. Many one-off competitors enter it and for almost every driver they are willing to throw away the entire season championship just to win the "500". It sure pays way more then winning the championship. This would be like making a regular season NFL game worth more then the Super Bowl. This encourages risky behavior.I am not sure what the fix is, but Indy's restart procedures have been a mess for years. If I was in charge the rule would be pit speed limiter until the green flag drops at a certain place on the track - like NASCARs restart "zone". Currently the leader can pace the field however they wish and accelerate whenever they choose. This leads to multiple false and jumped starts with no penalty for the behavior. Officals rarely wave off such restarts, but that did happened once on Sunday so they tried to make driver behave. The situation almost didn't happen as there were two strategies in the end with some conserving fuel and running old tires, driving slower with others racing ahead. However the last caution put everyone on even terms so nobody had advantage. It always gets crazy in the last few laps but bunching up the field with a yellow or red flag is just asking for trouble.
  • Tim Healey Lol it's simply that VWVortex is fertile ground for interesting used cars!
  • Jalop1991 I say, install gun racks.Let the games begin!
  • EBFlex For those keeping track, Ford is up to 24 recalls this year and is still leading the industry. But hey, they just build some Super Dutys that are error free. Ford even sent out a self congratulatory press release saying they built Super Duty’s with zero defects. What an accomplishment!
  • Norman Stansfield This is what you get when you run races to keep the cars bunched together for more excitement. F1 doesn't seem to have this problem after the first few laps.