September 27, 2022

Ship carrying luxury cars sinks into Atlantic ocean

Every now and then, we hear about a colossal screw-up that costs an absurd amount of money and is noticed all over the world. For example, when the cargo ship Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt. This is nearly one of those times. 

The NYT reported that the cargo ship Felicity Ace, which flies the Panamanian flag, caught fire Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, off the coast of the Azores, a Portuguese island territory. 

The ship had set sail from a port in Emden, Germany on Feb. 10, 2022, and was on its way to Rhode Island when a fire broke out in the cargo hold. On March 1, 2022 the ship sank.

Guess what was in that cargo hold? Up to 4,000 vehicles, all of which are made by the Volkswagen Auto Group. One thousand one hundred of the vehicles were Porsches, another 189 were Bentleys, as well as an unknown number of Volkswagens. At this time the exact condition of every vehicle is unknown but it is expected that the general consensus will not be great. 

At the time of writing this story, there are no details as to what caused the fire exactly. However, we have seen the possibility of mishaps with electric car batteries resulting in a massive fire, so that may be a possible cause for the fire, but has not been proven. Volkswagen and Porsche make electric cars that could have been on the ship in transit to America.

The Volkswagen Auto Group does not just own these car brands, but others such as Bugatti, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Lamborghini and Ducati, as well.

The Portuguese Navy intercepted the Felicity Ace after receiving a distress signal. Once the Navy arrived, they began evacuating all 22 members of the ship’s crew; fortunately, nobody was killed or injured. 

As Porsche owners tend to be rather–shall we say–vocal about their cars, there have, of course, been much speculation and grievances about the loss of their cars. 

Matt Farah, an Automotive Journalist and the man behind the “Smoking Tire” podcast and YouTube channel had ordered a Porsche Boxster Spyder, which was on the fiery vessel. He planned to swap the stock engine out for a Special DeMan 4.5-liter flat-6 engine. Farrah said in a tweet, “I just got the call from my dealer. My car is now adrift, possibly on fire, in the middle of the ocean.” 

Since the cars are damaged beyond repair by virtue of sitting on the ocean floor, a spokesperson at Porsche, Angus Fitton, has already confirmed that the damaged cars will be rebuilt, the NYT reported. Fitton said, “We are already working to replace every car affected… the first cars will be built soon.”

The Drive, a major car blog, received a statement from Porsche that said, “Our immediate thoughts are of the 22 crew of the merchant ship ‘Felicity Ace,’ all of whom we understand are safe and well as a result of their rescue by the Portuguese Navy following reports of a fire on board…We believe a number of our cars are among the cargo on board the ship. No further details of the specific cars affected are available at this time – we are in close contact with the shipping company and will share more information in due course.”

Unfortunately, with the new and used car markets already in a twist due to the chip shortage, the customers who ordered their VWs, Audis, Bentleys and Porsches may have to wait quite a while before they get what they paid for. 

  • Josh Conturo is a reporter for the Chimes and a fourth-year studying Emerging Media with an emphasis on journalism, and loves all things related to cars, coffee, and comedy.

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