EconomyFinancialA burning cargo ship leaves 4,000 Volkswagen cars adrift

A burning cargo ship leaves 4,000 Volkswagen cars adrift

The Felicity Ace, a huge Panamanian-flagged cargo ship carrying thousands of Volkswagen Group vehicles, caught fire near the Azores islands in the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday afternoon.

The ship’s 22 crew members were successfully evacuated and taken to a local hotel by the Portuguese Navy and Air Force, who were deployed to help with the rescue, according to a Navy statement. The ship was left without a crew and adrift.

An internal email from Volkswagen’s US operations revealed that there were 3,965 Volkswagen Group vehicles on board the ship. At its plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, the group makes its Volkswagen brand, as well as Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini, all of which were under tow when the ship caught fire, the email noted.

According to the email, more than 100 of those vehicles were headed for the Port of Houston in Texas. This latest blow comes as the auto industry remains mired in ongoing supply chain woes, on top of labor woes from the pandemic and semiconductor shortages.

Some customers expressed their disappointment on social media. One Twitter user reported that his custom-spec Porsche Boxter Spyder was among the load that departed. The standard models of the vehicle cost around 99,650 dollars (about two million pesos).

A spokesman for the Lamborghini branch in the United States declined to comment on the number of cars the company had on board or which models were affected, but said they are in contact with the shipping company for more information about the incident.

The ship Felicity Ace is the size of three football fields and was heading to a port in Davisville, Rhode Island, when a distress signal was heard due to a fire on one of its cargo decks.

On Wednesday night, the ship’s owner began arrangements for the ship to be towed, the Navy said. For now, authorities plan to remain on site to monitor the situation, and reported no detectable traces of contamination.

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