Cargo Ship from Germany Carrying 3,000 Cars Engulfed in Flames from Suspected EV Fire

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A tragic incident occurred on a cargo ship transporting nearly 3,000 cars from Germany, resulting in the death of one crew member and prompting others to leap into the sea for safety. The cause of the devastating blaze is suspected to be linked to one of the 25 electric vehicles among the cargo. The vessel named Freemantle Highway was en route from Germany to Egypt when the fire broke out off the northern coast of the Netherlands, as reported by the Dutch coastguard. Efforts to extinguish the fire have proven challenging, and the situation remains critical.

Electric vehicle fires are notoriously difficult to control due to the nature of lithium batteries, often leading to reignitions, and unfortunately, the crew’s attempts to contain the flames were unsuccessful. The coastguard reported that the fire continued to spread, necessitating the evacuation of the ship. A total of 23 people were safely evacuated, with seven crew members being rescued from the North Sea after jumping overboard about 27 nautical miles from the island of Ameland. The remaining crew members were airlifted by a helicopter.

Authorities are now focused on salvaging the situation and minimizing further damage to the ship and the local environment. Salvage companies and the Dutch government’s department responsible for infrastructure, Rijkswaterstaat, are actively working on this matter. Nonetheless, their efforts to completely extinguish the fire have not yet been successful, and emergency crews are striving to cool the sides of the Freemantle Highway using fire extinguishing systems.

This tragic incident highlights the safety concerns surrounding the transportation of electric and electrified vehicles on cargo ships. A Norwegian shipping company, Havila Krystruten, had previously announced its decision to no longer carry such vehicles on its vessels after a similar fire incident involving electrified vehicles on the Felicity Ace in the Atlantic. These incidents call for heightened safety measures and protocols to prevent such accidents in the future.

This is a developing story and we will attempt to update you as we get more information.

Update July 31, 2023

The cargo ship, carrying thousands of cars, including 498 electric vehicles, has been on fire in the North Sea for almost a week now. To prevent the ship from becoming unstable and protect the nearby shipping lanes and bird habitat, firefighters refrained from extinguishing the flames with water. Instead, the ship was towed to a new location, approximately 16 kilometers north of the Dutch islands of Schiermonnikoog and Ameland. The favorable currents allowed it to reach the new location earlier than expected. A salvage team plans to board the vessel soon for inspection, but the ship’s final destination remains uncertain. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, and one crew member has tragically died, with others injured during the evacuation.


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