Following our recent coverage of the Freemantle Highway cargo ship fire in the North Sea, it has since been confirmed that there are nearly 500 electric vehicles on board the ship.
The car carrier, which was transporting vehicles between Germany and Egypt, burst into flames 27km off the coast of the Netherlands and subsequently claimed the life of one crew member.
Efforts are currently underway to tow the ship to the nearest port, with teams of people recently being able to board the vessel and attach stronger lines.
While the fire is still burning, temperatures have reportedly dropped “sharply” on board, according to the Dutch water board Rijkswaterstaat, via Reuters.
Initial reports stated that the ship was carrying 2857 vehicles when it burst into flames, including 25 electric cars, but that number has now been confirmed to be higher at 3783 vehicles, 498 of which are EVs, according to the ship charter company “K” Line.
While the cause of the fire is still unknown, international reports and the ship’s owner state that an EV could be to blame. An official investigation has been launched by the Panama Maritime Authority as to how situations like these can be prevented in the future.
However, Reuters reports that the shipping industry is becoming increasingly concerned about the transport of battery-powered vehicles following a number of other ship fires.
By far the most significant recent blaze is the one that engulfed the Felicity Ace car carrier, which sunk in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean early last year. Although there were EVs on board, it still isn’t known what started the fire.
One of the major challenges of extinguishing an electric car fire relates to their lithium-ion batteries which can sometimes fall subject to “thermal runaway”. Such fires are nearly impossible to put out without special equipment.
The International Maritime Organisation is said to be evaluating new rules and regulations for ships transporting EVs, according to Reuters. Several preventative measures are being considered, such as special types of fire extinguishers and the level of charge stored in a car’s battery during transport.