The approximately 500 all-electric vehicles aboard the Fremantle Highway cargo ship that caught fire last month off the Netherlands’ coast are reportedly in good condition, according to Automotive Logistics, quoting Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis Salvage Company.
Speaking with the local Dutch press, Berdowski said that the 500 EVs are among the 1,000 vehicles that “seem to be in good condition” and are “perfectly movable”.
As per local media reports, the lower four decks of the cargo ship (out of a total of 12) are relatively undamaged, and it’s here where the battery-powered vehicles were located. At the same time, the four uppermost decks experienced temperatures so high that they “totally fused with the cars” as a result of the fire, Berdowski said.
Previously, it was reported that the vessel was carrying nearly 3,000 vehicles, but the report from Automotive Logistics says that over 3,700 cars were on board the ship when the fire started, with models from Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz being transported from Germany to Egypt. The initial report also mentioned that the fire allegedly ignited near an unspecified EV.
Following the fire, the Fremantle Highway roll-on/roll-off cargo ship was towed to the port of Eemshaven in the Netherlands, where oil is currently pumped out to reduce any risk of oil spills. The vessel can stay here until October 14, when it will have to be moved somewhere else or scrapped along with the cars that are on board.
With this being said, it’s unclear how the remaining cars will be recovered, with Berdowski saying that there’s the risk of the fire restarting: “You wouldn’t want the cars to catch fire again during the moving process and restart the entire misery. Moreover, these cars have charged batteries with high voltage, which can be extremely dangerous.”
The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) said after the initial inspection of the vessel that to date, “no fire onboard a ro-ro (roll-on/roll-off) or PCTC (Pure Car and Truck Carrier) has been proven to have been caused by a factory-new EV”.
The Fremantle Highway caught fire on July 25 while floating north of Ameland in the North Sea. The fire killed one member of the crew on board and injured several of the remaining crew.