“K” Line Confirms Nearly 500 Electric Vehicles on Burning Car Carrier in the North Sea

Fremantle Highway pictured July 28, 2023. Photo courtesy Netherlands Coastguard

“K” Line Confirms Nearly 500 Electric Vehicles on Burning Car Carrier in the North Sea

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July 28, 2023

AMSTERDAM, July 28 (Reuters) – The car carrier burning off the Dutch coast since Tuesday night is carrying nearly 500 electric vehicles, ship charter company “K” Line said on Friday, significantly more than the 25 initially reported by the coastguard.

The fire on the Panamanian-registered Fremantle Highway, which was carrying new cars, resulted in the death of an Indian crew member and injury of seven others who jumped overboard to escape the flames.

There were 3,783 vehicles on board, including 498 battery electric vehicles, a Tokyo-based spokesperson for K Line (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha), which had chartered the vessel, said. He declined to say anything about the car brands, including whether or not it included any cars from Japanese manufacturers.

A Brief Look Back at Recent Car Carrier Fires

The coastguard said on its website Thursday the cause of the fire was unknown, but an emergency responder is heard in a recording released by Dutch broadcaster RTL saying “the fire started in the battery of an electric car”.

EV lithium-ion batteries burn with twice the energy of a normal fire and maritime officials and insurers say the industry has not kept up with the risks.

An investigation has been launched by the Panama Maritime Authority and the Netherlands is assisting the inquiry, the Dutch Safety Board has said.

The 199-metre (653 ft) Fremantle, which is still burning, is drifting about 17 km from the northernmost Dutch coast, the coastguard said. It was on the way from Germany to Egypt.

The islands are on the northernmost tip of the Netherlands, and comprise part of the Wadden Sea, a vast area of tidal flats and marshland stretching along Germany and Denmark that is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

(Reporting by Miranda Murry and Daniel Leussink; Writing by Marine Strauss and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Philippa Fletcher)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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