massive cargo ship carrying thousands of Volkswagen Group vehicles caught fire
near the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday afternoon. Portuguese
Navy and Air Force have been deployed to run the rescue operation.
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to the Navy’s statement, The Felicity Ace ship’s 22 crew members were
successfully evacuated and taken to a local hotel. The ship itself was left
unmanned and adrift.
3,965 vehicles were on board
per an internal email from Volkswagen’s US operations, there were 3,965 Volkswagen
AG vehicles onboard the ship. Headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, the group
manufactures its Volkswagen brand, as well as Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini–
all of which were in tow when the vessel set ablaze, the email further added.
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100 of those cars were supposed to head for Port of Houston in Texas, with GTI,
Golf R, and ID.4 models were deemed to be at risk, according to the email. The latest disruption came at a time when the automobile industry is already struggling with
ongoing supply chain issues, including pandemic labour woes and semiconductor
Porsche lost 1,100 vehicles
Vandezande, a spokesperson for Porsche, said the company estimates around 1,100
of its vehicles were among those on board Felicity Ace at the time of the fire.
He said customers affected by the incident are being contacted by their
automobile dealers. “Our immediate thoughts are of relief that the 22 crew
of the merchant ship Felicity Ace are safe and well,” Vandezande said.
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it is not the first time expensive cars sank in the sea bed. When Grande
America caught fire and sank in 2019, over 2,000 luxury cars, including Audi
and Porsche, sank with it.
customers, who were waiting to receive their cars, expressed their
disappointment on social media. One Twitter user reported his custom spec’d
Porsche Boxter Spyder was among the departed cargo. Standard models of the
vehicle start around $99,650.
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spokesperson for Lamborghini’s US branch, however, declined to comment on the
number of cars the company had onboard or which models were affected but said
that they are in contact with the shipping company to get more information
about the incident.
Felicity Ace was en route to a
port in Davisville
Ace is roughly the size of three football fields and was en route to a port in
Davisville, R.I., when a distress signal was issued due to fire on one of its
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of Wednesday night, the ship’s owner was arranging for the vessel to be towed,
the Navy said. They plan to remain on-site to monitor the situation, reporting
no detectable traces of pollution so far.