The operator of Felicity Ace, the ship transporting thousands of Porsches, Lamborghinis and other Volkswagen AG vehicles, said Tuesday it assumes the car carrier is still on fire almost a full week after the crew abandoned ship.
Two large tugboats have arrived from Spain’s south coast and are spraying the vessel, a unit of Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. said on a website set up to provide updates on the incident. They will assist with controlling the position of the ship before an initial salvage team already on site inspects the carrier.
The fire, first reported around midday in Europe on Feb. 16, could be costly for VW. Risk-modeling company Russell Group estimated Monday there are $401 million worth of cars on board, and that roughly $155 million worth belong to the German manufacturer. Anderson Economic Group, a Michigan-based consultant, assumes a $334.6 million cargo loss.
Of VW’s almost 4,000 vehicles aboard the ship, the models include Golf compact cars and ID.4 electric crossovers, according to an internal email last week from the automaker’s U.S. operation. Extinguishing lithium-ion battery fires can take thousands of gallons of water—much more than what it takes to douse a typical combustion engine.
The cause of the fire remains unclear. Two salvage craft with additional firefighting and towing capability are on their way to the ship, with one scheduled to arrive Wednesday and the other on Feb. 26.