Portuguese navy officers said Tuesday that a fire aboard a ship carrying cars in the mid-Atlantic has been extinguished, The massive ship is expected to be towed to the Bahamas.
Fires have been burning aboard the Felicity Ace near Portugal’s Azores Islands for six days. After the 22 crew members were evacuated last week by a helicopter operated by the Portuguese Air Force, the 200-meter (650-foot) vessel was left adrift.
Capt. Joao Mendes Cabecas, the harbormaster of Horta on the Azores island of Faial, told that two ocean-going tugboats equipped with firefighting equipment have hosed down the ship’s hull to cool it, preventing further damage.
By the end of the week, two more tugboats could be on their way, he told The Associated Press.
Although the cause of the fire has not been determined, Mendes Cabecas says. But there is a suspicion that the fire was caused by lithium batteries in electric vehicles Felicity Ace, that was being transported from Germany to the US.The captain explained to us that both electric and non-electric vehicles were on board.
A spokesperson for Volkswagen Group confirmed that the ship was carrying vehicles made by the German automaker but gave no further details.
Neither the number of vehicles or the make of the vehicles on board the ship could be determined by Mendes Cabecas because Portuguese authorities did not have access to the manifest of the ship.
In the case Mendes Cabecas describes, the fire broke out on a cargo deck where the vehicles were stowed, but when the fire alarm went off, the smoke was so thick that it was impossible to see exact location of the fire.
A salvage crew hopes to get board the ship on Wednesday and connect a towline to the ship, he said. The flames were no longer visible outside Tuesday, and the ship is stable, he said.
A typical car transport ship can carry thousands of vehicles on multiple decks and can carry more than 17,000 tons (18,700 tons) of cargo
Two thousand metric tons of fuel and two thousand tons of oil are being transported by the ship.
The weather in the area, 190 nautical miles (350 kilometers/220 miles) south of the Azores, is fair, with a swell of less than 2 meters (6.5 feet).
In the meantime, Mendes Cabecas explained, there is no pollution threat. In order to avoid runoff from lithium batteries entering the sea, Hoses are not being aimed inside the vessel,