The Fremantle Highway, a car carrier that was severely damaged by fire in July, will be towed to the port of Rotterdam on Thursday afternoon. The vessel has been docked at the Eemshaven since early August, where it was partially dismantled.
Scheduled for a 3:00pm departure, the plan is to have the ship clear the harbor mouth around 4:00pm, as confirmed by a spokesperson for Groningen Seaports.
Harrowing maritime incident
The fire broke out in the night of July 25-26 while the ship was en route from Bremerhaven to Egypt. The ship was located north of Ameland at the time.
Almost 4,000 cars were on board, including some electric vehicles. The cause of the fire is suspected to be a defect in one of the batteries in those cars.
There were 23 crew members on board, and one of them died in the rescue operation. Six others were seriously injured, and the remaining crew members suffered minor injuries.
Averting environmental disaster
In an effort to prevent an environmental disaster at sea, Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch governmental agency responsible for waterways and infrastructure, advocated for the prompt relocation of the vessel to a harbor. Given the considerable distance to Rotterdam, the scorched ship was towed to Eemshaven on August 3. Once moored at the Julianahaven, efforts were made to stabilize the ship. It has been there since then.
The ship’s fuel and contaminated firefighting water were pumped out at the Eemshaven. Then, salvage teams carefully removed the relatively intact vehicles from the lower decks. A specially equipped mobile wash station was employed for cleaning the retrieved cars.
The ship had to leave the Eemshaven by mid-October, as the quay was needed for other purposes.
The removal of the Fremantle Highway from the Eemshaven is a complex operation. The ship is 200 meters long and 30 meters wide, and it weighs 20,000 tons.
The ship will be towed by two tugboats. The tow ropes will be attached to the ship’s stern and bow. The ship will be accompanied by two pilot boats, which will guide it through the shipping lanes.
The tow will be conducted at a speed of about 6 knots. The journey to Rotterdam will take about 12 hours.
Once the ship arrives in Rotterdam, it will be moored at the Euromax terminal. The final dismantling of the ship will then begin.