Fire-damaged EV cargo ship under tow to Dutch port

Fire-damaged EV cargo ship under tow to Dutch port

Fire-damaged EV cargo ship under tow to Dutch port 640 360 Batteries International

August 3, 2023: Stricken car carrier the Fremantle Highway was being towed into a Dutch port today after a fatal onboard blaze, with initial reports suggesting an EV battery was to blame and the probability rising that this was the case.

According to Lloyds List, nearly 500 EVs were among the 3,784 cars on board the vessel when fire broke out on July 25, while en route from Germany to Singapore via Egypt.

Dutch broadcaster RTL has released a recording of an initial emergency responder reporting that the fire “started in the battery of an electric car”.

But the Netherlands Coastguard has distanced itself from the recording, saying it is too early to say what triggered the blaze that led to the death of one of the 23 crew members and injured many others.

Rijkswaterstaat, part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, said yesterday there were no indications that the fire was continuing.

A towing operation began this morning to take the Fremantle Highway into the port of Eemshaven, with experts from a number of agencies on board the vessel.

Rijkswaterstaat said the cargo could be safely unloaded at the port allowing investigators to establish the cause of the blaze.

Only two of the rescued crew members remained in hospital as of July 30, according to vessel charter company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha.

The Fremantle Highway was built in 2013 and has the capacity to carry 6,000 vehicles.

An industry observer told Batteries International: “As terrible as the incident has been, one can only imagine how much worse thing might have been if the ship had been filled to capacity.”

In a separate report published on July 27, Allianz Commercial said fires on vessels such as the Fremantle Highway remain one of the biggest safety issues for the shipping industry.

The report said lithium ion fire risks will likely ease over time as manufacturers, carriers, and regulators address the current challenges.

“In the meantime, attention must be focused on pre-emptive measures to help mitigate the peril.”

Photo: Rijkswaterstaat