The automaker Volkswagen AG is going to pay a hefty bill after a cargo ship carrying around 4,000 luxury vehicles caught fire near Portugal’s Azores Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, last week.
The risk-modeling company Russell Group has estimated that the German manufacturer stands to lose at least $155 million (around €135 million), which is nearly 40% of the value of the cars that the vessel was carrying.
There were Porsches, Audis, Bentleys and Lamborghinis – all Volkswagen brands – with an estimated value of $405 million, according to the firm. The total value of goods on board is roughly $438 million.
The fire started on Friday, February 18 inside the hold of the Felicity Ace, which had departed from Emden in Germany 10 days earlier and was due to arrive in Davisville (Rhode Island) on February 23. The 22 members of the crew were rescued from the vessel.
Ship manager Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd said on its webpage that two heavy tugboats had arrived from Gibraltar and were spraying water on the burning ship to cool the hull. Two more rescue ships were expected to arrive at the scene on Wednesday and one more on February 26 to help put out the fire on a vessel that is approximately the size of three soccer pitches.
The Felicity Ace is still adrift in the Atlantic Ocean and the fire had not been completely put out yet by Tuesday afternoon, but according to Mitsui there were no oil leaks and the ship remains stable. The company also said it is cooperating with rescue teams and local authorities to find an “early solution” to the incident.
Russell Group’s estimates are based on the assumption that none of the vehicles will be recoverable. Although no information has emerged on how many cars of each brand were on board, The New York Times has reported that there were 1,100 Porsches and 189 Bentleys.