The number of electric cars on board the burning ship Fremantle Highway has been revised upwards to 498, the Leeuwarder Courant reports citing the charterer K Line. The new figure is significantly higher than the initial estimate of 25 electric cars. In total, the ship was carrying 3,783 new vehicles.
The fire on the cargo ship, which is sailing under the Panamanian flag, broke out on Tuesday evening. The cause of the blaze is still being investigated.
Fires on ships are considered one of the biggest safety problems for the shipping industry. Insurer Allianz sees this as a result of the increasing number of goods shipped with batteries, including electric cars. Batteries can ignite, according to Allianz, especially if they are poorly manufactured, damaged or short-circuited.
In response to the growing concerns, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has established a working group to assess how the risks associated with electric vehicles onboard can be better managed. The Royal Association of Dutch Shipowners has emphasized the importance of a thorough investigation within the IMO to determine whether the current regulations regarding firefighting and safety are adequate.
The fire on the Fremantle Highway has been burning for several days and is still not under control. The ship is currently drifting in the North Sea, and there are concerns that it could sink.
The incident is a reminder of the risks involved in transporting electric cars, safety experts say. It is important that the shipping industry take steps to reduce these risks, such as improving fire safety and ensuring that electric cars are properly manufactured.
The Fremantle Highway, a 200-meter-long car carrier that was built in 2011, was transporting cars from Germany to Egypt. The fire broke out in the cargo hold, where the electric cars were being stored. The blaze spread quickly through the cargo area to other parts of the ship. One crew member reportedly died and several others were injured. The fire is still burning, and the ship is being cooled to prevent it from sinking near the Wadden Islands, a habitat for migratory birds.