What just happened? A cargo ship that caught fire while sailing through the Atlantic with thousands of luxury cars onboard has sunk to the bottom of the ocean, taking an estimated $401 million worth of vehicles to a watery resting place.
The Felicity Ace was transporting almost 4,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles from Germany to a port in Rhode Island when a fire broke out on February 16. The 22-person crew was evacuated, and the fire was eventually put out on February 25.
But what remained of the Felicity Ace never made it to shore. The ship sank around 220 nautical miles off the coast of Portugal's Azores Islands yesterday while being towed to safety by salvage crews after being hit by rough seas and leaning 45 degrees to its starboard side.
"The weather was pretty rough out there," Pat Adamson, a spokesperson for the Felicity Ace's operator, MOL Ship Management, told Bloomberg. "And then she sank, which was a surprise."
Among the lost cargo were 189 Bentleys, about 1,100 Porsche cars, and an unspecified number of Audis. There were also VW and Lamborghini models on the vessel, 2,200 tons of fuel, 2,200 tons of oil, and materials such as metallic parts, plastics, electrical wires, and paint. The water where it sank is close to 10,000 feet deep.
Tugboats are using water cannons to disperse a small stain of oil residue at the site where the Felicity Ace sank. There's also some wreckage in the area. A navy ship carrying divers and clean-up equipment will return to the location once it's resupplied.
Customers who lost vehicles in the incident are being contacted by their dealers. Angus Fitton, vice president of PR at Porsche Cars North America, told The Associated Press, "We are already working to replace every car affected by this incident and the first new cars will be built soon."
Exactly what caused the fire is unknown, but it's suspected to have been a lithium battery from one of the electric vehicles.