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Fremantle Highway boat fire

The Fremantle Highway on fire in the North Sea, July 26, 2023. Photo courtesy Netherlands Coastguard

One Dead as Major Fire Rips Through Car Carrier in North Sea

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 14977
July 26, 2023

One person has died and several have been injured after a car carrier with some electric vehicles caught fire in the North Sea off the Netherlands overnight.

The first was report around midnight on the Panama-flagged Fremantle Highway traveling from Bremerhaven, Germany to Port Said, Egypt with 23 crew members on board.

The ship is reportedly loaded with 2,857 vehicles, including 25 electric vehicles. The cause of the fire unknown.

The burning ship is located around 27 kilometers off the coast of Ameland, Netherlands.

All 23 crew members were evacuated by helicopter and lifeboat and taken ashore. Unfortunately one has died and several are reported injured.

Fremantle Highway fire
Photo courtesy Netherlands Coastguard

The Netherlands Coastguard is leading the response and has its salvage vessel Guardian on scene along with several other sea and air assets. The Guardian and a second tug, the Nordic, have been spraying water to cool the ship’s hull to tame the fire. The Nordic was expected to be replaced by another tug, the Fairplay 30.

As of Wednesday afternoon (local time) the fire continued to burn and had spread throughout the vessel. Flames could be seen coming from the top deck.

A tug belonging to Rederij Noordgat has established a connection to hold the burning vessel is place, but is incapable of towing it. The Coastguard reports that a salvage team has arrived on board the Guardian and are working towards establishing a towing connection.

The Embassy of India in The Hague, the Netherlands has confirmed that the deceased person is an Indian national and that 20 crew members sustained injuries.

An update from the Coastguard said some crew members were rescued from the water by a lifeboat with the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) and Rederij Noordgat. The situation is currently reported as “stable.”

The fire is the latest involving roll-on/roll-off vehicle carriers and is reminiscent of the Felicity Ace fire in 2022, which resulted in the vessel’s sinking in the N. Atlantic nearly two weeks after the fire started. That ship was also carrying electric vehicles, complicating firefighting efforts and shining a spotlight on the dangers of transporting of EVs and lithium-ion batteries by ship.

The Fremantle Highway is nearly 200 meters long and entered service in 2013. Equassis data shows it is owned by Japanese entities related to Shoei Kisen Kaisha (Luster Maritime/Higaki Sangyo). The ship is managed by Wallem Shipmanagement.

Japanese shipping company “K” Line has confirmed that it is the charterer and operator of the vessel. “We would like to express our sadness in respect of this loss and our sincere condolences to the family of the deceased,” the company said.

More Photos:

Fremantle Highway Fire
Photo courtesy Netherlands Coastguard
Fremantle Highway Fire
Photo courtesy Netherlands Coastguard
Photo courtesy Netherlands Coastguard
Netherlands Coastguard
Photo courtesy Netherlands Coastguard
Fremantle Highway as of 1111 UTC
Location of Fremantle Highway as of 1111 UTC, 26 Jul 2023. AIS courtesy MarineTraffic.com

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