Burning Car Carrier Relocated Off Dutch Coast for Salvage Operation

Burning Car Carrier Relocated Off Dutch Coast for Salvage Operation

AMSTERDAM - A dramatic salvage operation is underway off the Dutch coast after a car carrier caught fire while en route from Germany to Egypt on July 26. As part of the operation, the blazing Panamanian-registered vessel named Fremantle Highway, loaded with new cars, has been towed to a new location away from shipping lanes. The Dutch public works and water management ministry, along with local media, reported on the relocation on Monday.

The vessel, owned by Japan's Shoei Kisen, tragically witnessed the death of one Indian crew member, with seven others being injured after they had to leap overboard to escape the rapidly spreading flames. The entire crew of 21 on board was Indian.

The Rijkswaterstaat ministry stated that the ship is now positioned north of the Dutch islands Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, in a location that will minimize interference with shipping routes and offer better protection from the winds. However, officials emphasized that this relocation marks only an intermediate step in the challenging salvage operation.

Ship charter company "K" Line provided updated information regarding the cargo, revealing that the vessel carried a total of 3,783 vehicles. Surprisingly, among them were 498 battery electric vehicles (EVs), a significant increase from the initial report of 25 EVs. The company did not disclose specific car brands, leaving uncertain whether Japanese manufacturers were among them.

The incident has also raised concerns about the safety of EV lithium-ion batteries in such maritime emergencies. These batteries can burn with twice the energy of a standard fire, posing risks that the industry has yet to fully address, according to maritime officials and insurers.

As the salvage operation continues, authorities are closely monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of the crew, minimize environmental impact, and facilitate the removal of the car carrier from its precarious situation off the Dutch coast.


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