Rough seas and the aftermath of a devastating fire sealed the Felicity Ace’s fate.
Bloomberg reports Tuesday that the car carrier went down 220 nautical miles from the Portuguese-held Azores Islands. Despite salvage crews’ efforts to tow the ship to port, battering waves caused the Felicity Ace to list 45 degrees to its starboard side. Eventually, the vessel sank around 9 AM local time, according to its operators.
Fortunately, no one was injured in this weeks-long saga, as the 22 crew abandoned the ship and were taken to safety when the fire originally broke out. Tug boats dispatched from Gibraltar and the Netherlands and other salvage craft were able to begin work after teams brought the fire largely under control, and are still in the area. Nevertheless, the weather ultimately sealed the ship’s fate, sending thousands of Volkswagen Group cars into the ocean with it — some of which, of course, were already destroyed by the fire.
The Felicity Ace, a Panamanian-registered vessel owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, originally departed the port of Emden in Germany on February 10. The cargo section caught fire six days later, while the vessel crossed the North Atlantic, bound for Davisville, Rhode Island. Aboard the ship were 3,965 VW Group vehicles, including Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche and Volkswagen models totaling around $400 million.
Risk analysts Russell Group projected last week that the incident would cost the automaker at least $155 million. VW Group, for its part, contended that most vehicles were damaged to such an extent they were no longer deliverable to customers. As such, the company noted late last week that the damage to the vehicles is covered by insurance.
The automaker made no official comment as of Tuesday morning, and the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.