November 27, 2022

Nearly a week after its 22 crew members abandoned ship, the Felicity Ace car carrier is “still assumed to remain on fire drifting south of the Azores Islands in the Atlantic,” according to its manager MOL Ship Management. 

In this undated photo provided by the Portuguese Navy, smoke billows from the burning Felicity Ace car transport ship as seen from the Portuguese Navy NPR Setubal ship southeast of the mid-Atlantic Portuguese Azores Islands. (Portuguese Navy via AP)

The Felicity Ace was originally scheduled to arrive in the Port of Davisville in Rhode Island on Feb. 23. The cause of the fire remains unclear. 

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Massachusetts automobile dealer Ernie Boch Jr. told FOX Business that he is the owner of one of the 12-cylinder Bentleys currently aboard the ship.

“To lose a whole ship is devastating,” Boch Jr. said. “It’s devastating for the manufacturers, devastating for the people that are on the ship, it’s devastating for the port where the cars come in, and it’s also devastating to people that have ordered a car, had been waiting and lost it at sea.”

According to an internal email from Volkswagen US obtained by Bloomberg, the Felicity Ace is carrying a total of 3,965 vehicles. Porsche confirmed to FOX Business that roughly 1,100 of its vehicles are on board, while Bentley said 189 of its vehicles were on board. Audi told FOX Business that it was aware of the situation and “in contact with the shipping company to get more information about the incident”. It did not disclose how many of its vehicles are on board. 

Representatives for Volkswagen did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment. Lamborghini declined to comment.

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Risk solutions company Russell estimates that the total dollar value of goods on the Felicity Ace is about $438 million, with approximately $401 million of that figure made up of cars and goods vehicles. According to the company’s analysis, the Felicity Ace’s fire could generate at least $155 million in expected losses for the Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini vehicles on board. 

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The incident comes as the auto industry is already feeling the pain from supply chain disruptions and the chip shortage.

“You’ve got some manufacturers at six, seven, eight days of inventory. “You’ve got to bring that up to 30 or 40 days,” Boch Jr. explained. “So not only is it going to be difficult to replace the vehicles, it’s going to be difficult to rebuild the inventory.”

Massachusetts automobile dealer Ernie Boch Jr. told FOX Business that he is the owner of one of the 12-cylinder Bentleys aboard the Felicity Ace.  (REUTERS/Brian Snyder / Reuters Photos)

According to an update from MOL Ship Management, two large tugs from Gibraltar arrived on the scene Tuesday and are spraying the Felicity Ace with water to “achieve hull and boundary cooling.” In addition, the tugs will assist to control the position of the car carrier prior to inspection by the initial salvage team already on site. 

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“When conditions are safe the salvage team will board the Felicity Ace for an initial assessment of future salvage plans,​” the company added. 

Two salvage craft with additional firefighting and towing capability are en route to the Felicity Ace and are expected to arrive on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.

https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/ernie-boch-jr-felicity-ace-fire