Smoke From Car Carrier ‘Felicity Ace’ Reduces; Damage Onboard Reaches $401 Million

MOL Ship Management (Singapore) provides a further update on the situation regarding the ‘Felicity Ace’ car carrier which is still assumed to remain on fire drifting south of the Azores Islands in the Atlantic.

Previously, it had been reported that authorities were being unable to control the blaze which was devouring the many electric vehicles on board. However, apart from the Audis and Volkswagens on board, there were hundreds of Porsches, tens of Bentleys, and many Lamborghinis.

Officials and technicians were considering whether to board the vessel and begin salvage operations. Dealers across the U.S. have started contacting customers regarding the destruction of nearly 4,000 cars.

Felicity-Ace on fire
Image Credits: Marinha Portuguesa

The cause of the fire is not known. The destruction wrought by it is expected to deal a body blow to the U.S. automotive industry. What makes matters worse is the ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips. Automakers and dealers alike are under tremendous pressure to deliver to increasingly frustrated customers.

Some dealers have highlighted now there is not just a shortage to deal with but also one less transport vessel with the loss of the Felicity Ace. Many of the dealers have gone ahead and placed reorders of the cars destroyed in the interest of their customers. Among the car brands, Volkswagen U.S. is expected to be the hardest hit by the tragedy.

Assessing the Damage

Risk assessment company the Russell Group has estimated that the fire has destroyed around $401 million worth of commercial vehicles and luxury cars.

Volkswagen USA will face the hardest hit. Company spokespersons have reportedly said that they’re struggling to satisfy the demand for the ID.4. The Emich Volkswagen general manager, Fred Emich IV has observed that the dealer lost five vehicles to the raging fire, three of those had been sold off already.

Felicity-Ace fire
Image Credits: Marinha Portuguesa

While some Audi and Porsche dealers have tried reaching out to their customers, Emich said that their dealership is also waiting to see if it can replace the orders from some other stocks before they get in touch with the customers. Set to start production in the US from September, Volkswagen will be able to cope with the demand for ID.4.

Once the burnt vessel has been towed to a port located close by, the salvaging process will take off and the extent of the accident would be understood. But after a week of incessant burning, it is unlikely that any of the vehicles have managed to survive the tragedy.

Statement 6 – 24th February 2022

Currently, there is no oil leakage confirmed from the vessel, and the stability of the vessel remains stable. White smoke from the vessel is still visible which has reduced compared to the past few days.

Two large tugs continue to spray the vessel with water cannons to achieve hull and boundary cooling. Two salvage crafts with additional firefighting and towing capability are expected to arrive today.

When conditions are safe the salvage team will board the Felicity Ace for an initial assessment of future salvage and firefighting plans.

MOL, MOL Ship Management (Singapore), and the salvage team are cooperating fully with local authorities and resources from the Azores to find an early solution to this incident.


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