LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A burning car transport ship drifted in the middle of the Atlantic on Thursday after the massive ship’s 22 crew members were evacuated due to the fire, the Navy said. Portugese.
Shipping in the area was warned that the 200-meter-long (650-foot-long) Felicity Ace was adrift near the Portuguese Azores islands after the crew took off on Wednesday, the spokesman said. Portuguese Navy, Cmdr. said José Sousa Luís.
The Felicity Ace can carry over 17,000 metric tons (18,700 tonnes) of cargo. Typically, car carrier ships carry thousands of vehicles over multiple decks in their hold.
The Volkswagen Group said in a brief statement that the Felicity Ace was transporting vehicles produced by the German automaker to the United States. The company declined to comment on what consequences the incident might have for US customers or the VW Group.
The ship’s operator, Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines, said in an email to the AP that it could not provide information about the cargo.
A Portuguese navy vessel sailed to the vehicle carrier, which was sailing from Emden in Germany to the port of Davisville in the US state of Rhode Island, according to online ship trackers. A navy statement said the fire was still burning and showed a photograph of large billowing clouds of white smoke.
The navy ship was to check whether the cargo ship was in danger of sinking or causing pollution, Sousa Luís told The Associated Press.
The shipowner is looking for an ocean tug, but the Felicity Ace is unlikely to be towed to a port in the Azores in Portugal due to its size, Sousa Luis said.
The crew were taken by helicopter on Wednesday to the island of Faial in the archipelago, about 170 kilometers (100 miles) away, and are staying at a hotel there. None of them were injured.
Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.