A burning transport ship carrying Porsches drifted in the mid-Atlantic on Thursday after the huge vessel's 22 crew members were evacuated due to the blaze, the Portuguese navy said.
Shipping in the area was warned that the 650-feet-long Felicity Ace was adrift near Portugal's Azores Islands after the crew were taken off on Wednesday, Portuguese navy spokesman Cmdr. Jose Sousa Luis said.
The Felicity Ace can carry more than 18,000 tons of cargo. Typically, car transport ships fit thousands of vehicles on multiple decks in their hold.
German automaker Volkswagen Group confirmed in a brief statement that the Felicity Ace was transporting some of its vehicles to the U.S.
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A spokesperson for Porsche Cars North America, Inc. released the following statement to NBC.
"Our immediate thoughts are of relief that the 22 crew of the merchant ship “Felicity Ace” are safe and well. A number of our cars are among the cargo. We are in contact with the shipping company and the details of the cars on board are now known. While it remains too early to confirm what occurred and next steps, we are – along with our colleagues at Porsche AG – supporting our customers and our dealers as best we can to find solutions. Anyone concerned by this incident and the implications on the car they’ve ordered should contact their Porsche dealer."
The ship's operator, Japan's Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, said in an email to the AP it could not provide information about the cargo.
U.S. & World
A Portuguese navy ship sailed to the vehicle transporter, which was sailing from Emden in Germany to the port of Davisville in Rhode Island, according to online vessel trackers. A navy statement said the fire was still burning and showed a photograph of large clouds of white smoke billowing out.
The navy ship was to check whether the cargo vessel was in danger of sinking or causing pollution, Sousa Luis told The Associated Press.
The ship's owner is seeking an ocean-going tug, but the Felicity Ace is unlikely to be towed to a port in Portugal's Azores Islands because of its size, Sousa Luis said.
The crew were taken by helicopter on Wednesday to Faial island on the archipelago, about 100 miles away, and are staying at a hotel there. None of them was hurt.