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The Felicity Ace Ship That Caught Fire with 4,000 Vehicles Aboard Has Sunk

The Felicity Ace cargo ship | Photo: Wikimiedia Commons (Alf van Beem)
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Daniel Rufiange
The Volkswagen Group takes a big hit with this incident with the loss of thousands of new vehicles

For the past two weeks, many car fans, and most particularly buyers who were waiting for their new vehicles to be delivered, have been holding their breath as the ship carrying their prized acquisitions, the Felicity Ace, suffered a fire on board.

The blaze was eventually brought under control and the ship was in the midst of a salvage operation to tow her and the approximately 4,000 new vehicles on board to shore. Their fate was still uncertain, but there was little hope that any of those vehicles could be salvaged.

That small amount of hope was snuffed out this morning, as the salvage company towing the ship back to land reported that the vessel suffered a starboard list serious enough to have it take on water, and has now sunk off the Azores. Road & Track magazine reported today that the last update from the ship's owner, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), was on February 25. At that time, it indicated that the vessel was stable and had been boarded by rescue teams.

Then came the events of this morning:

“MOL Ship Management (Singapore) updates the situation regarding the ‘Felicity Ace’ car carrier. Initial reports from the local salvage team state that the vessel had sunk at around 9 a.m. local time, having suffered a list to starboard. The last vessel position was around 220nm off the Azores. The salvage crafts will remain around the area to monitor the situation. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.”

- Statement by MOL Ship Management, 100% online, shop for your next car, buy online and get it delivered to you anywhere in Quebec!

The Felicity Ace, on fire
The Felicity Ace, on fire | Photo: India Times

The ship was carrying some pretty precious cargo: Lamborghini Urus, Aventador (the last ones produced) and Huracan, Volkswagen Golf R, GTI, Arteon and ID.4, as well as Porsche and Bentley models. In total, there were more than 4,000 vehicles on board, destined for American dealers and buyers. Fire broke out on the ship on February 16.

The cause of the blaze has not been clearly determined, which has opened the door to all sorts of speculation. Obviously, now that the evidence is on the seafloor, it will be much harder to determine what caused the fire that eventually doomed the ship and its contents.

Volkswagen must be wondering what it did to deserve this, as it comes on the heels of so many trying challenges it and the industry at large have faced over the past two years. The pandemic has had its well-documented impact, then came the not-unrelated microchip shortage and other supply-chain issues, and now this. Fortunately, no crew members were lost during the whole incident.

Better times lie ahead, Volkswagen must be repeating to itself. They just have to be.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists