The Felicity Ace, a cargo ship designed to transport vehicles, was reportedly evacuated Wednesday as it was in transit near the mid-Atlantic Azores Islands following reports of a fire aboard the ship, according to The Washington Post. All 22 crew members have been rescued, but the Porsches, Volkswagen, and other brand-new cars left on board, which were set to be delivered to North America, might not be so lucky.
The 656-foot long ship departed from its origin port in Emden, Germany on February 10, and was set to arrive at its destination port in Davisville, Rhode Island on February 23. On February 16, the vessel let out a distress signal after a fire broke out in the cargo hold. Shortly after, a Portuguese navy patrol boat, along with four merchant vessels, responded to help with the rescue. There's an ongoing effort to bring the situation back under control, according to The Drive, though a photo taken from aboard one of the assisting merchant ships and shared by Greek publication Naftika Chronika on Wednesday shows the Felicity Ace seemingly ablaze from a distance.
The Felicity Ace was built in 2005 and has a total load capacity of 17,738 tons. That translates to a maximum load of nearly 4000 vehicles—a non-insignificant amount, especially considering the market's ongoing supply shortages. When reached for comment by Road & Track, a Volkswagen spokesperson told us the company was aware of the situation and was working with local authorities and the shipping company to investigate the cause of the incident. Porsche gave the following statement to The Drive:
We believe a number of our cars are among the cargo on board the ship. No further details of the specific cars affected are available at this time—we are in close contact with the shipping company and will share more information in due course.
We've also reached out to the firm that owns the Felicity Ace, though we have yet to receive a response.
It's unclear right now what will happen to all of the cars aboard the now-abandoned cargo ship as it continues to float through the Atlantic. Buyers waiting for their cars to be delivered have shared their concerns both on Porsche forum Rennlist and Volkswagen forum VWIDTalk, while people on 718forum.com are reportedly receiving a message from the company's "Track Your Dream" service notifying them the company is aware of the Felicity Ace situation, and to contact their dealer for more info.
Matt Farah, Road & Track contributor and founder of The Smoking Tire, confirmed with his dealer a Porsche Boxster Spyder he recently ordered is aboard the Felicity Ace. He tweeted on Wednesday saying he planned to send the car to DeMan Motorsports to have the firm's 4.5-liter engine upgrade and shorter gearing installed. If things don't improve, though, he might not have a car at all.
Not all hope is lost for the buyers of extra-special Porsches, though. Back in 2019 Porsche restarted production of the 911 GT2 RS after four of the last allocations were lost on a sunken cargo ship.