Burnt-out car transport ship limps into Dutch port

Burnt-out car transport ship limps into Dutch port

The fire-stricken ship was carrying more than 3,700 vehicles including almost 500 electric cars
The fire-stricken ship was carrying more than 3,700 vehicles including almost 500 electric cars. Photo: Vincent Jannink / ANP/AFP
Source: AFP

A burnt-out freighter carrying thousands of cars was towed into a Dutch port on Thursday, as an environmental disaster was averted more than a week after the ship caught fire off the coast.

Tugboats brought the Fremantle Highway to the northern port of Eemshaven, where dozens of spectators lined a sea wall to watch the scorched, blackened hulk move slowly into the harbour.

One sailor died jumping from the ship and 22 others were rescued after the vessel caught fire on July 25 while carrying 3,700 vehicles, including nearly 500 electric cars and many luxury autos.

"I can confirm the ship has arrived in Eemshaven," Jente Wieldraaijer, a spokesperson for the regional safety authority, told AFP.

Dutch Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers said the fire appeared to be out, adding that there was "no question of any outflow of liquids or other matter".

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Tugs towed the Fremantle Highway into the Dutch port of Eemshaven
Tugs towed the Fremantle Highway into the Dutch port of Eemshaven. Photo: Handout / Netherlands Coastguards/AFP
Source: AFP

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The tug journey from a holding position some 64 kilometres (40 miles) away "went without any problems", added the Dutch infrastructure and water management agency.

"The owner of the ship remains responsible for the further handling of the cargo and everything that goes with it."

The ship is expected to remain at the port until October while salvage operations are carried out on the boat and to remove the cars, harbour master Pieter van der Wal said.

"I am very happy that it all worked out," he said.

Port workers later stacked a wall of yellow shipping containers around the moored ship, hiding it from view, an AFP journalist said.

'Very concerned'

The Panamanian-flagged freighter, which was travelling from Germany to Egypt when it caught fire, is owned by Japanese firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha and was being chartered by Japan-based K Line.

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The blaze had raised the spectre of an ecological disaster on the nearby Wadden chain of islands, an area spanning the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

While the situation had been largely under control for several days, bad weather in the North Sea in recent days raised further concerns it could leak oil or even sink while being towed to port.

Dozens of people turned out to watch the ship being towed into port
Dozens of people turned out to watch the ship being towed into port. Photo: Vincent Jannink / ANP/AFP
Source: AFP

"This time the Wadden Sea has escaped a major environmental disaster," local environment group the Wadden Association said in a statement.

"However, we continue to be very concerned about shipping that takes place north of the Wadden Islands."

Hundreds of shipping containers fell off one of the world's largest cargo ships after a storm in the same area in 2019, littering swathes of pristine coastline with plastic.

The cause of the fire on the Fremantle Highway remains unclear, although the owner said one of the electric vehicles on board may have been the source.

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The blaze forced several members of the all-Indian crew to jump overboard from heights of up to 30 metres (100 feet), including the man who died.

A number were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation or injuries from the fall.

The fire-stricken car carrier ship Fremantle Highway arrived at Eemshaven port on Thursday
The fire-stricken car carrier ship Fremantle Highway arrived at Eemshaven port on Thursday. Photo: Vincent Jannink / ANP/AFP
Source: AFP

The freighter was carrying 3,783 new cars, including 498 electric vehicles, K Line said.

They included BMWs, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini brands, with the total loss likely to exceed 300 million euros ($328 million), Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Source: AFP

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