Things Don't Look Good For The 1,000 Porsches On This Cargo Ship

The Felicity Ace is a massive cargo ship, carrying nearly 4,000 cars, and it's currently on fire. Stranded near the Azores islands in Portugal, the ship holds thousands of Volkswagen Group vehicles, including Bentleys, Audis, and Porsches, some of which were custom-made to order and cost at least $100,000. There is no telling what will happen to the cars, but one thing is clear — if they are not salvaged in time, Volkswagen Group will be facing massive losses, made even greater due to the ongoing chip shortage.

On February 16, 2022, the Felicity Ace was en route from Germany to the United States, but it never made it that far. The crew sent out a distress signal when one of the ship's cargo decks caught on fire. The ship is currently on the Atlantic Ocean, around a thousand miles off the coast of Portugal. If you're worried about the crew, you can rest easy — the Portuguese Navy, with the help of the Air Force, evacuated all 22 crewmembers.

This left the Felicity Ace adrift with no crew and no direction, but with millions of dollars worth of cargo. Of course, it's a miracle that there is no loss of life and everyone managed to escape the ship safely. However, it's unlikely that the same will be said about the super-expensive cars found aboard the Felicity Ace.

The cargo includes 3,965 vehicles

The operator of Felicity Ace, Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., is monitoring the situation and will be sending out a salvage company to assess just how much of the cargo — and the ship itself — can be saved at this point. In a statement, the company has said, "MOL will make every effort to contain the damage and resolve the situation as the main priorities." Of course, given how expensive the cargo is, we're looking at massive losses for everyone involved, as well as a large insurance claim to follow — so it makes sense for Mitsui OSK Lines to do everything in its power to try to save at least some of the vehicles.

The vehicles currently on fire and adrift on the Felicity Ace are not of the cheap kind. A spokesperson for Porsche has told Bloomberg that there are at least 1,100 Porsche automobiles onboard. The Drive also mentions that the cargo includes 189 Bentleys and several hundred Audi vehicles. The rest of the cars are probably Volkswagens, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that there may be a few Lamborghinis, as the Felicity Ace carried those just last month. However, Lamborghini has declined to comment.

Any attempts to pinpoint how much money the cargo is worth are moot right now — it's just pure guesswork at this point. However, it's not wild to assume that we're talking about huge sums of money, possibly close to half a billion dollars. The ship itself, built in just 2005 and with a carrying capacity of 17,738 tons, has its own immense monetary value. Skytek, a software company with insurance expertise, allegedly estimates that the value of the ship is $24.5 billion.

The fate of the Felicity Ace is uncertain

At this time, there is no telling whether Felicity Ace will be salvaged, and similarly, there is no way to guess how many cars will make it through the fire unscathed. Looking at the previous record of similar cases shows that being optimistic is a bit of a gamble. Almost 20 years ago, a similar incident occurred where a massive cargo ship was struck by another. That ship, dubbed the MV Tricolor, carried 2,862 luxury vehicles aboard.

After colliding with a ship called Kariba, MV Tricolor sank, and all the cars went down with it. The cargo included various Volvos, Saabs, and BMWs, and the cars were never fully recovered — they were salvaged for metal. Fortunately, the crew of the ship survived, but the financial losses were huge.

You'd think that massive cargo ships would be difficult to sink, but they get in more trouble than one would suspect. We all remember the very recent incident on the Suez Canal in Egypt when a 220,000-tonne ship wedged itself diagonally across the canal. The resulting shipping delays were massive, causing more than 400 ships to be forced to wait to pass until the ship was eventually removed. True, the ship didn't sink, but it was still a great disturbance to countless operations, although it also produced a whole lot of content on the internet, including a Microsoft Flight Simulator mod.

According to Statista, ship losses are not that rare, and the vast majority of ships that are eventually deemed lost are cargo ships. Between 2011 and 2020, a total of 876 vessels were lost at sea, including 348 cargo ships. With all that in mind, it's possible that the Felicity Ace will still be recovered in some capacity. The salvage crew is set to arrive on scene on February 18, 2022, so undoubtedly, we will learn more as the rescue operation progresses.