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Massive claims expected from Felicity Ace blaze

The blaze on the 6,400 ceu Felicity Ace off the coast of Portugal’s Azores islands is finally easing.

The Panama-flagged ship caught fire last Wednesday while on its way from Emden, Germany to Rhode Island, US.

Two large tugs with firefighting equipment arrived on site yesterday and are spraying water onto the ship together with the patrol boat with the initial salvage team already onsite to cool down the heat from the vessel.

An additional salvage craft with firefighting equipment is set to arrive from Rotterdam on Saturday.

“The fire has subsided in recent hours,” João Mendes Cabeças, captain of the nearest port in the Azorean island of Faial, told Lusa news agency last night, saying there was probably little combustible material left to burn.

UK risk consultancy Russell Group said the ship has 3,965 cars onboard including brands such as Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini.

The total dollar value of goods on the ship is estimated to be $438m, according to Russell.

Cargo claims specialist WK Webster suggested that the fire has spread throughout the entire length of the vessel and it appears that everything above the waterline has been burnt, although vehicles stowed below the waterline will likely also be affected by burning debris from upper decks and fire-fighting water.

The vessel, which switched to the Britannia P&I Club for its insurance at the start of the year, is reported to be stable, in a position approximately 90 nautical miles south of Horta in the Azores, but has developed a slight list.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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