Car Carrier Felicity Ace Continues to Burn

Felicity ace
Image courtesy Portuguese Navy

Published Feb 20, 2022 7:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

The car carrier Felicity Ace continues to burn at a location off the Azores, according to the Portuguese Navy. The vessel is carrying thousands of new luxury cars made by Volkswagen Group brands, including Audis, Porsches and Bentleys. 

An unspecified number of the vehicles are all-electric, battery-powered cars, and the captain of the nearby port of Faial told Reuters that the presence of lithium-ion batteries on board is complicating the firefighting effort. Water does not extinguish a Li-ion battery fire, and the fumes from a burning battery are toxic and potentially explosive. The battery packs are "keeping the fire alive," captain of the port João Mendes Cabeças told Reuters, and the blaze has been progressively moving down from its starting point on an upper deck. The cause of the fire has not yet been identified. 

The patrol ship NRP Setubal remains on scene to monitor the fire, and multiple salvage vessels are under way to join the effort, according to operator MOL. Two large tugs with firefighting equipment have been chartered to support the salvage effort, and the first one is scheduled to arrive from Gibraltar on Sunday. A second tug from Gibraltar should arrive Monday, and a third from Rotterdam is expected on Feb. 23-24. 

The vessel remains stable, and no pollution has been reported, MOL said in an update. All of the crewmembers were evacuated safely on the day the fire broke out, and they have been delivered to shore in the Azores. 

In a statement, MOL thanked "the Portuguese Navy, the local authorities in the Azores and those vessels that supported the rescue operation of the crew members in the best traditions of the merchant marine."