The Felicity Ace, a cargo ship carrying nearly 4,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles, as the company confirmed, caught fire off the coast of Portugal this week. All 22 crew were rescued by the Portuguese navy and are now safe, but the fate of the vehicles aboard the ship, reportedly headed for the U.S., is unknown.
The Felicity Ace left the port of Emden, Germany, on February 10 and was expected to land at Davisville, Rhode Island, on the morning of February 23. The abandoned ship contains vehicles from the Volkswagen, Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche and Bugatti brands and is now drifting in the Atlantic.
“We are aware of an incident today involving a cargo ship transporting Volkswagen Group vehicles across the Atlantic,” a spokesperson told Insider in an email. “At this time, we are not aware of any injuries. We are working with local authorities and the shipping company to investigate the cause of the incident.”
The ship transmitted a distress signal on the morning of Wednesday, February 16 following a fire that had broken out on one of the cargo decks. Naftika Chronika reports that the crew of the Felicity Ace took to a lifeboat and were picked up by the Resilient Warrior, a tanker operated by a Greek company. The outlet indicated yesterday that 11 of the crew had been picked up by a Portuguese Navy helicopter and photos shared from the tanker show smoke rising from the Felicity Ace.
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Authorities were still trying to get the fire under control yesterday and neither Porsche nor Volkswagen seem to know if the vehicles will be salvageable, per statements sent to The Drive.
Matt Farah, of The Smoking Tire, posted that a Porsche Boxster Spyder that he ordered in August was on the Felicity Ace and he suggested the car might be lost. Porsche, though, said that no further details of the specific cars affected were available yesterday, advising customers to speak to their local dealers. It added that its “immediate thoughts are of the 22 crew.”
Built in 2005, the Felicity Ace is 656 feet long and 104 feet wide. It can carry 17,738 tons and, fully laden, can transport nearly 4,000 vehicles, which was the case here.
Porsche has had a run of recent bad luck with its shipping efforts. In 2019, the Grande America sank off the coast of France and among the vehicles onboard were several 911 GT2 RSs headed for Brazil. After that incident, the company put the vehicle back into production after it had officially ended in order to fulfill the orders of the customers whose cars were lost in the incident.
I just got the call from my dealer. My car is now adrift, possibly on fire, in the middle of the ocean. https://t.co/Ge2DYk8IJ0
— Matt “I Park Cars” Farah (@TheSmokingTire) February 16, 2022