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Burned ship’s loss, mostly ruined cars, estimated at $438 million

Estimates of the cost of the goods destroyed on the burned cargo ship that caught fire last week in the Atlantic Ocean keeps increasing. It now includes the approximate loss of $155 million for Volkswagen, according to an industry consulting firm.

The total value of the cargo on the Felicity Ace, the ship ablaze for several days off the coast of Portugal’s Azores Islands, is approximately $438 million, according to the Russell Group. About $401 million is the loss value of the burned automobiles onboard the 17-year-old ship.

The burned Felicity Ace cargo ship with 4,000 vehicles on board, all apparently a total loss.
The burned Felicity Ace cargo ship with 4,000 vehicles on board, all apparently a total loss. Photos courtesy of Portuguese Navy, distributed by Reuters.

Estimates of the loss are based on all vehicles on board as total losses.

About 4,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles were on board, including Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche and VW. About 1,110 of the affected vehicles are Porsches. Other manufacturers haven’t provided their car cargo numbers.

Representatives from the automakers have either not commented or provided little information about their vehicles on the ship.

Mitsui OSK Lines, the operator of Felicity Ace, reported on its website that two large tugs with firefighting equipment were expected to arrive Monday to begin spraying water on the Felicity Ace. A salvage team is reportedly already on the vessel.

No oil leakage has been confirmed and the ship remains stable, the transport company said.

“The lost Porsche vehicles alone, which we assume are 1,100 vehicles including many customized high-end models, would exceed $140 million. We further anticipate salvage costs in excess of $150 million,” Anderson’s report said. “Similar disasters in the recent past suggest total losses for this incident may not be realized for a year or more and could be far above the value of the lost cargo.”

“Given that the ship continues to burn, no crew is onboard, and suspected lithium fires have been confirmed, we now estimate that nearly all of the vehicles are irreparably damaged and will not be saleable in the U.S. market.

“We note that these vehicles have experienced a fire, smoke, and water damage, and they risk being submerged in salt water, as well. Today’s report that the fires are ebbing included the telling explanation that there was probably little combustible material left to burn.”

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James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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