Shipping News

News Brief by Kip Hansen – 18 February 2022

There is a lot of talk about reducing CO2 emissions from international  transportation.  There is an item in the news today that might lead you  to a new insight on the issue. (It did for me.)

The news is on the front page of the online NY Times as “Ship Carrying 1,100 Porsches and Other Luxury Cars Is Burning and Adrift”.

This vessel is 200 m (or 600 feet) long and 32 m (100 feet) wide, with about 30 feet of it underwater (draught or draft).

The Portuguese Navy supplies this photo of the vessel as of yesterday:

The NY Times reports:

“A mammoth cargo ship believed to be carrying thousands of vehicles including 1,100 Porsches was on fire and drifting off the coast of the Azores on Thursday after its 22 crew members were rescued from the vessel.”

“The fire broke out on Wednesday morning in the cargo hold of the ship, called the Felicity Ace, which had departed from Emden, Germany, on Feb. 10 and was scheduled to arrive in Davisville, R.I., on Wednesday, according to a ship tracking website. The ship was about 200 miles from Terceira Island in the Azores, the Portuguese island territory, when Portuguese forces moved in on Wednesday to evacuate the crew.”

“The Drive, an automotive website, reported that the Volkswagen Group estimated nearly 4,000 vehicles were on board, including 189 Bentleys.”

The Portuguese Navy performed a successful and dangerous rescue of the 22 crew members and the ship is now adrift, currently shown below with others vessels in the immediate vicinity.  The three islands to the north are the Portuguese Azores islands of Faial, Pico, and São Jorge:

Shipboard fires are terrifying. They are furnaces fueled by diesel bunker oil in a confined steel box.  The heat quickly builds to incredible levels and the crew is most often unable to enter or even get near the area of the fire to fight the flames.  Pouring water on the flames often just spreads the burning fuels.  Luckily for these mariners, the Portuguese keeps naval vessels in the Azores and rescue came in time.  Had they been in the middle of the Atlantic, their fate would have been different.

Somewhat amusingly, the Times includes a human interest bit: “Matt Farah, a car enthusiast and editor of The Smoking Tire, had been waiting for his 2022 frozen-berry metallic Boxster Spyder, with a retail price of about $123,000 and modified to his precise specifications, since August. “The best sports car of all time, hands down.”

Fun Fact: Porsche describes the Boxter Spyder this way:

Perfectly Irrational.

A firebrand. A go-getter. Aiming for the skies. The new 718 Spyder is an exclamation mark in a world full of ‘what ifs’. A roadster like no other. Without compromise. Without regrets. Without rational arguments.

So, how many ships were in the vicinity when the Felicity Ace caught fire?  I count about half a dozen within 50 nautical miles – too far to help in a man-overboard situation, but close enough to come and rescue mariners from lifeboats.  In this case, the Portuguese Warship Setubal (red) was involved and can be seen approaching the island of Faial in the Azores after it took the mariners off the Felicity Ace by helicopter.

Why report this ongoing incident on WUWT?  What’s the climate or science connection? 

This image can give you an idea:

That’s a lot of ships……

“The shipping industry now uses more than 5 million barrels of fuel a day, including the high sulfur fuel, lighter marine fuel and a tiny amount of LNG, according to Citigroup.” … “The fuel now used in shipping is the bottom of the barrel. It’s a very heavy black diesel oil that shippers use because it’s cheap. It also is one of the most polluting fuels.” (CNBC here)

The quote refers to bunker fuel which is a thick, black, dirty heavy fuel oil. 

We are in the midst of a supply chain snarl-up due to the governmental responses to the Covid pandemic  all around the world – which has impacted not only manufacturing but shipping, ports and trucking segments of the supply  chain.

In the Mad Mad World of Net-Zero, how will we power all those ships and boats?  How will we move manufactured products from Asia to North America and Europe?  How will we move grains and other foods to Asia and Africa?  How will we accomplish this in a Net-Zero world without petroleum products?

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

Thankfully, I have never had to fight a major fire on an ocean-going vessel.  In the merchants, I trained to prevent fires and trained to fight fires aboard ship. Fought a couple of minor fires – galley fires, an electrical fire or two, fires resulting from welding (mistakes….always involve a failure to mount a proper fire watch) and small fires in the engine room.  Steel vessels are not flammable but almost everything in them is.

And, man, that’s a lot of ships and boats at sea – now publicly detectable and reportable due to the new AIS (automatic identification system). has both a free and a paid version to find registered vessels. There are cell phone apps as well, though I haven’t used them.  Readers with insight into the best AIS cellphone apps should share them with us in comments. 

I’m afraid Net-Zero is entirely impractical or, in other words, currently and near-future impossible.   

Despite the bad news of the loss of all those Porsches and Bentleys, the rich and famous will continue to waste precious resources on fast cars, fast boats,  big houses (usually more than one), junketing for pet causes,  and expensive holidays.

Me, I’m settled in at home and planning on staying warm.

# # # # #

4.9 18 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John Garrett
February 18, 2022 6:16 pm

I recall when I was young and on my first blue water passage.

The old salt who was the mate gave us young ‘uns a lecture about safety and the amazing survivability of small, displacement hull sailing vessels under almost any conditions. He concluded the talk with the admonition, “There are only two things that can kill you out here: fire and ships.”

Later in life, whilst passagemaking in the West Indies, I vividly remember watching a fiberglass vessel burn ferociously right down to the waterline. Nothing was going to put that fire out. It was a very sobering sight and a vivid reminder of the truth of that early lesson.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Garrett
February 18, 2022 6:17 pm

The lithium batteries in the vehicles being transported are burning. It is unclear if they started the fire or have made the fire worse.

Richard Page
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 18, 2022 7:01 pm

Kip – it’s an almost identical story, even down to the billowing white smoke, to the earlier Sincerity Ace disaster (New Years Eve 2018), except no crew died this time. Even the reports that the fire started in one of the cargo holds are similar to both ships. Of course the main difference is that the Sincerity Ace was carrying thousands of new Nissans, not Porsches or Bentley’s.

Richard Page
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 1:21 pm

Both the Sincerity Ace and Felicity Ace are owned by a Japanese company but the Sincerity Ace, at least, is registered in Panama. In 2019 the Panamanian authorities appointed an investigator but I haven’t been able to find out if the report has been completed yet. Given the number of similarities between the two fires, I suspect that if we find the cause of 1 then we find the cause of both.

John Garrett
February 18, 2022 6:23 pm

We see lots of car carriers in local waters.

They may be the ugliest vessels ever to see the light of day. They resemble the toy boats one finds in children’s bathtubs.

Why they float upright has always been a mystery. They look so unstable that it’s hard to understand why they don’t immediately capsize.

Reply to  John Garrett
February 20, 2022 6:31 am

John G, they are built that way to carry the maximum number of cars possible through the Panama Canal. Ugly as sin, but very practical.

February 18, 2022 7:10 pm

I was working as a state prison correctional officer on first watch (10pm-6am). My sergeant visited the building for my annual fire safety training. He said the prison fire captain was supposed to give the training but he wasn’t available in the middle of the night. During the training he related his experience fighting a fire on a US naval vessel, inching forward, sliding his feet in zero visibility while directing the fire hose fogging nozzle toward the heat. He said he was most afraid of falling down a companionway.

Walter Sobchak
February 18, 2022 10:48 pm

“In the Mad Mad World of Net-Zero, how will we power all those ships and boats?”


Everything old is new again.

Rod Evans
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
February 18, 2022 11:06 pm

Not very likely Walter. Then again, in the mad world of Net Zero the need for shipping at the present volume, won’t exist. Shipping is a direct reflection of commerce. In the Net Zero future, there will be no commerce so no ships needed. It will all be very Green local only produce and crafted items. Won’t that be a something to look forward to……?

Reply to  Rod Evans
February 19, 2022 12:28 am

There won’t be any oil at some point, it will be all used up.
Back to sail is inevitable. (Though not like the sailing boats of yesterday.)

Reply to  Harry
February 19, 2022 4:59 am

Ships run quite nicely on nuclear fuel.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 10:03 am

Does bunker oil make a good chemical feedstock?

Reply to  Harry
February 19, 2022 7:51 am

Gosh, not that old nugget again.

John Garrett
Reply to  Harry
February 19, 2022 8:26 am


The fact of the matter is that “prices make reserves.”

Reply to  Harry
February 19, 2022 12:55 pm

We got hundreds to perhaps over 1000 years before we run out of oil.
Given how technology has changed from 1020 to 2020, and given how the rate of change in technology has been accelerating.

Worrying about how our many times removed ancestors are going to solve any problem is a fool’s errand.

Richard Page
Reply to  MarkW
February 19, 2022 1:25 pm

Descendants – ancestors are the ones that we definitely know about; we’re here because of the problems they solved.

Reply to  Richard Page
February 19, 2022 3:36 pm

Our ancestors solved the problems that they needed to solve, because they needed the solutions in their time.

Not a single one of them spent time worrying about solving problems that wouldn’t crop up for hundreds of years.

Likewise, we should concentrate on solving real problems that exist today.

Reply to  Rod Evans
February 19, 2022 5:34 am

There won’t be any cars, either.
There Are Many Big Problems With Getting Rid Of Cars – CleanTechnica
(That article contains a link to an article in the New York Times which advocates getting rid of al cars. Only subscribers can see it.)

Richard Page
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 1:27 pm

Anti-human, anti-progress, anti-science. Whether they were born on this planet or not, they are definitely alien.

Christopher Allport
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
February 19, 2022 5:24 am

New Nucleur!

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 20, 2022 6:56 am

NS SAVANNAH was a nuclear powered merchant ship built in the late 1950’s by the US Government and serving in merchant service for about 10 years. She was a beautiful small cargo ship built and outfitted as part of President Eisenhower’ Atoms for Peace program. She looks more like a wealthy-person’s large yacht than a cargo ship. She was retired in 1972 because her operating costs were high due the cost of operating a nuclear reactor and to a small cargo capacity and physical constraints making loading and unloading difficult. She is currently moored in Baltimore MD. The Russians have built several nuclear powered icebreakers and one nuclear powered cargo ship. The Germans and Japanese also built one nuclear powered merchant ship each. Other than the icebreakers, none are currently in service.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 10:05 am

You need to learn to be ‘tackful.’ 🙂

Graham McDonald
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 19, 2022 4:10 pm

“Ready about”, “Helms alee”

Now how many times have I used those words over the years?

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
February 19, 2022 8:49 am

Sorry I forgot the /sarc tag.

Coeur de Lion
February 19, 2022 1:59 am

I wonder when Brittany Ferries will start to segregate electric cars from the mass? Travelling to France as we often do, I’m now a worried person, having lived aboard ships all my life. Inbuilt fire suppression won’t hack it.

February 19, 2022 3:11 am

All is Lost :

Sail is not safe with all those massive cargo ships.

Ed Zuiderwijk
February 19, 2022 3:43 am

Curiously the writer appears to have missed the real news. The fire apparently started by an exploding battery of one of the EVs it transported.

Richard Page
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
February 19, 2022 4:06 am

Well, it’s a reasonably safe assumption, given that the cars on board were from the VW Golf, GTI and all-electric ID4 ranges, not sure about the 1100 Porsches though. However, until the accident investigation team concludes it’s report, the exact cause can’t be determined. We’re still waiting for the report into the earlier (but remarkably similar) fire on board the Felicity Ace from New Years Eve 2018, so may be a while yet.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 1:01 pm

If the cars were stored by model, such that the EVs were in one area, and the ICEs were in another, then once we learn where the fire started, we will know what kind of car started the fire.
If the cars were stored randomly, then we will probably never know.

Last edited 1 year ago by MarkW
Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 1:21 pm

The colour of the smoke, white, suggests that it is not oil that’s burning.

Richard Page
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 1:37 pm

There was an interesting discussion that brought up an internal VW email listing the types of car they had on board the Felicity Ace. One of the types was the electric ID4 so we know there were EV’s on board, just not whether they were the direct cause of the fire.
BTW – do you know how they get the cars on board ship? Are they driven on under their own power, or are they loaded on board as inert freight? EV’s with a charge and salt water strike me as being an unhappy combination.

Steve Richards
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 20, 2022 12:49 am

They drive them on and off. Near where I live is Southampton port, always looking for temporary drivers.

Reply to  Richard Page
February 20, 2022 6:42 am

Normally driven on board by contract drivers, who then walk off to their next vehicle.
I have read somewhere – sorry, no link, but in relation to this casualty or perhaps the Greek ferry fire, of ?Friday – that electric cars are ‘normally’ driven on board with a half charge.
And, to agree with Kip, car carriers are a out the ugliest vessels ever to come from the worst nightmares of naval architects – floating car barns.
And they do roll over if poorly loaded.
Especially making a sharp turn.
One did about 3 years ago, leaving Southanpton; ‘Hoegh Osaka’ – seek the Marine Accident Investigation Board report-6/2019.


Reply to  Auto
February 20, 2022 12:17 pm

My bad.
It was earlier – 2016.
MAIB Report 6/2016.

Apologies, Auto

Danley Wolfe
February 19, 2022 5:44 am

Kip, great post and highly relevant. Also since the ships are just one part of the massive global supply chain, let’s also focus on Amazon et. al. who facilitate in the massive volume of shipment of goods esp. from China but also others to US consumer. It is ultimate consumption that is the problem in global warming… so any suggestions on changing consumption patterns is welcome, e.g., going back to the 1930s, good luck with that.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 12:25 pm

“… people want things that they don’t need …” Yeah, imagine saying that in 1900. Cars, plastics, airplanes, phones, computers, lifesaving drugs & etc. Don’t be a bluenose, Kip.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 7:44 pm

You haven’t demonstrated that either over consumption is occurring or if it is occurring, it is bad.
That’s just your opinion.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 22, 2022 3:21 am

“Buying things you don’t need nor want, to keep up with people you can’t stand.”

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 1:07 pm

I would rather rely on individuals to decide for themselves what they need or do not need.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 3:39 pm

As long as they are spending their own money, it’s none of my business what the Kardashians consume.
Once again, once you decide that anyone has the right to control what others consume, you have started on the road to totalitarianism.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 7:45 pm

The problem is, such opinions rarely stay opinions. If you think someone else’s actions are harmful, it’s quite easy to take the next step of banning them.

Richard Page
Reply to  MarkW
February 19, 2022 1:39 pm

Very true. I guess you’ve never met anyone in sales or advertising then? sarc

Reply to  Danley Wolfe
February 19, 2022 1:06 pm

I’ve often wondered about what has gone wrong in the mind of a person who spends so much time worrying about what other people are doing, or consuming.

Consumption is not a problem, neither is global warming.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 19, 2022 3:42 pm

Even if they are, so what? Regardless, why do you feel that you have the right to set the standard by which we judge what is over consumption and what is not?
How should we punish those who in your opinion, consume too much? Is jail to severe, or do we just use government to take from those who have to much, in order to give those resources to those who consider themselves to be more worthy?

Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
February 19, 2022 8:47 am

Another article from the American Shipper website: Car carrier with Porsches, VWs catches on fire in Atlantic

February 19, 2022 8:57 am

Lloyds of London investors will be shi**ing bricks right now for that insurance claim.

Then the fun begins with rising insurance premiums and special onboard facilities etc. to segregate EV’s and contain fires.

All this, whilst EV’s are a tiny minority of cars on the road.

John the Econ
Reply to  HotScot
February 19, 2022 12:41 pm

The insurance industry will just have to adjust rates to accommodate cost of the inevitable EV fire and occasional transport loss. Ultimately will get even more expensive.

Think the clime syndicate cares?

John the Econ
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 21, 2022 9:00 am

…and automobile ownership will become less affordable to the masses as a result.

It’s almost as though that’s the plan.

Roger Dueck
February 19, 2022 7:05 pm

To quote the great fictional sleuth Columbia, “shumshing bawthahs me” … the ship is ridding high, props almost out of the water, as though unloaded. Are the photos actual or file photos?

Reply to  Roger Dueck
February 20, 2022 7:00 am

Car carriers have a lot of volume, but modest loads, compared with, say, oil tankers or bulk (ore or coal) carriers.
Car carriers will have eight to perhaps fifteen decks, each high enough to allow a large SUV to be driven on – and secured.
Sometimes, devk spacing, in the lower decks is greater, or (and?) every other deck can be moved up to allow trucks (lorries) or diggers (“Project cargo”) to be carried safely.
A typical SUV might be 2 metres wide, 1.8 m high. And perhaps 5 metres long.
So, 18 cubic metres, volume occupied; yet weighing less than three tonnes (some only about two tonnes). No matter how you cram them in, they’re ‘light’ – or hi-cube – cargo.
So, although a big car carrier can carry up to 8,000 (IIRC) cars, that’s likely only about 20,000 tonnes, Ish.
200 metres long, and probably 30 metres wide, that full 8000 cars would make the ship sit about four metres deeper in the water, compared with her completely unloaded condition ( based on a waterline coefficient of about 0.83, a bit of a guess).
My last VLCC (‘supertanker’) needed about 160 tonnes added (oil cargo, bunkers, water ballast, marshmallows, or whatever) to sink one centimeter deeper. Load draft was about 21 metres. And, then, there were over two hundred bigger tankers in the world fleet.


Roger Dueck
February 19, 2022 7:06 pm

Columbo… hate autocorrect

February 19, 2022 10:08 pm

Pretty nuts seeing how many vessels are at sea at any one time.

I paddle past Panamax and Capesizes several times a week and have trouble imagining any sort of renewable power which could propel them through the water with much success at all.

I could certainly imagine minor sorts of problems like rigging for sails etc getting caught in propellers and rudders.

Could pretty easily see them converted to nuclear though.

February 22, 2022 3:22 am

Almost makes one wish there was one in the garage.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights