Cargo ship with 4000 VWs drives off the Azores

car export

Many VW models are delivered worldwide by cargo ship.

(Photo: dpa)

Lisbon The “Felicity Ace”, a huge cargo ship flying the Panama flag and loaded with thousands of Volkswagen Group vehicles, caught fire near the Azores in the Atlantic on Wednesday afternoon and is drifting along without a driver.

The 22 crew members gave up the almost 200-meter-long “Felicity Ace” and were taken to safety, a spokesman said on Friday. The ship’s position remains stable and there is currently no risk of fuel catching fire or spilling from the ship into the sea, the spokesman added.

All crew members were taken to a hotel in the Portuguese archipelago by the Portuguese Navy and Air Force, the Navy said in a statement. The team did not require medical treatment, it said.

An internal e-mail from Volkswagen USA reveals that there are 3,965 vehicles from the Wolfsburg-based group on board the VW, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini brands. A Porsche spokesman estimates that there are around 1100 Porsches on board. Affected customers would be contacted by their dealers. “First and foremost, we are relieved that the crew members are doing well,” he says. A spokesman for VW in Wolfsburg confirmed that the manufacturer was in contact with the shipping company responsible for the salvage.

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The fire on the car transporter flying the Panamanian flag, which was reportedly en route from Emden to Davisville in the US state of Rhode Island, broke out on Wednesday on one of the car decks, the marine spokesman said. Videos on the Internet showed smoke rising from the huge ship.

It’s not the first time VW has lost cars at sea. When the “Grande America” ​​caught fire and sank in 2019, over 2000 vehicles, including Audis and Porsches, went down with her.

Some buyers expressed their disappointment on social media. For example, one Twitter user reported that his custom Porsche Boxster Spyder was in the cargo.

The Portuguese Navy’s patrol boat “Setúbal” is with the ship, which is adrift in the sea about 170 kilometers southwest of the Azores island of Faial. Experts from a Dutch salvage company are expected on Friday to examine the possibility of towing the ship to a port, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

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