A major fire broke out on board the cargo ship “Fremantle Highway” this week, carrying nearly 3,800 cars and construction vehicles, off the coast of the Netherlands. According to Bloomberg, citing a BMW spokesperson, there are a few hundred BMW and MINI cars aboard the ship. There is no word on what BMW models were aboard the vessel. But Bloomberg says that out of the 2,857 cars on board, 25 were electric vehicles. There is no indication that the electric vehicles are the culprit. Also,BMW of North America says none of these vehicles were destined for the U.S. market.
The Dutch coast guard also said that the blaze is expected to continue for several days, posing significant challenges to containment efforts. The incident, which occurred after midnight on Wednesday, resulted in the unfortunate death of one crew member. Rescue operations were launched promptly, with injured crew members airlifted to safety by helicopters and lifeboats. As of Thursday, July 27th, the fire was still raging, and the situation remained stable. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management stated that towing or salvage operations could only commence after the fire was completely extinguished, further complicating the situation.
The Fremantle Highway, flying the Panama flag, was en route to Port Said, Egypt, following a recent stop in the German port of Bremerhaven, as per ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Bremerhaven is one of the main ports used by BMW to ship out their products. The Fremantle Highway, a ten-year-old vessel, measures about 200 meters (656 feet) in length and has a capacity of up to 4,000 cars, according Bloomberg. The ship had 23 people on board and was traveling to Singapore from Bremerhaven.
This incident brings back memories of a maritime disaster last year when a cargo ship carrying approximately 4,000 Volkswagen vehicles to the US caught fire in the Atlantic. Despite attempts to tow it to safety after burning for over a week, the ship eventually sank in rough seas.
[Source: Bloomberg] [Top Image: BMW PressClub / Loading cars in Bremerhaven]