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A burning cargo ship full of Porsches and VWs is adrift in the mid-Atlantic

In this image posted on the Portuguese navy's website, the Felicity Ace is shown burning on Thursday in the Atlantic Ocean about 90 nautical miles southwest of the island of Faial in the Azores.
Marinha Portuguesa
In this image posted on the Portuguese navy's website, the Felicity Ace is shown burning on Thursday in the Atlantic Ocean about 90 nautical miles southwest of the island of Faial in the Azores.

A ship carrying cars from Germany to the United States caught fire in the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, forcing the crew's 22 members to abandon the vessel and leave it burning and adrift.

The nearly 650-foot-long ship Felicity Ace is capable of carrying 4,000 cars and was loaded with Porsches and Volkswagens.

The Portuguese navy rescued all 22 members of the crew from the ship, which was scheduled to arrive in Davisville, R.I., on Wednesday. The crew was taken by helicopter to Faial island in the Azores, The Associated Press reported. None of the crew members were hurt.

As of Thursday, the fire is still active on the ship, the Portuguese navy reported.

The Volkswagen Group said in a statement to the AP that Felicity Ace was transporting to the U.S. "vehicles that the German automaker manufactured." The company declined to comment further on the effect the fire may have on customers in the U.S. or the automotive group itself.

A spokesperson for Porsche Cars North America told NBC Bay Area in San Jose, Calif., that the manufacturer is in contact with the shipping company, as a number of its cars are among the cargo.

"Our immediate thoughts are of relief that the 22 crew of the merchant ship 'Felicity Ace' are safe and well. A number of our cars are among the cargo. We are in contact with the shipping company and the details of the cars on board are now known. While it remains too early to confirm what occurred and next steps, we are — along with our colleagues at Porsche AG — supporting our customers and our dealers as best we can to find solutions. Anyone concerned by this incident and the implications on the car they've ordered should contact their Porsche dealer," the company said in its statement.

The ship's owner is arranging an oceangoing tug, but Portuguese navy spokesman Cmdr. José Sousa Luís said the ship is unlikely to be towed to a port in the Azores because of its size, the AP reported.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.