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Sounds like the fires could not be put out. 1000+ Porsches Kaput....
A big hit for the insurers and a scramble to determine cause...
"A mile of highway will take you one mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere."
Wonder how all those cars that Tesla ships to Europe from California and China haven't caused any fires. There are lots of things that cause fires on ships.

Of course the ship owners will blame it on someone else. Who knows if the cars were damaged while being loaded.

ICE cars catch fire more frequently than battery powered cars.but without the publicity.
There is a feeling among some that electric cars are a terrible transformation of what we had taken up worshiping, so there is a tendency to find ways to blame new technology for anything bad. A tendency to focus on the "what if...". What if there were some BEVs on board and we could blame them for the fire? It's too tempting for some. And too hard to prove.
but spontaneous combustion in batteries that aren't being charged or discharged is very rare
As someone with 40 years in the maritime industry (25 sailing and managing RO/ROs), cargo hold fires are not "common". Most shipboard fires start in the machinery spaces, the galley, sometimes in the quarters. We probably won't ever know from the mainstream press where the fire started, what was done to fight the fire, etc. The flag state and classification society for the vessel will do investigations but this sinking will be forgotten outside the industry. What is a concern is the approach to fighting fires from lithium batteries aboard ships as opposed to shoreside. Simply using the vessels fixed and portable fire fighting systems may not be effective. In case it isn't obvious, a shipboard fire is the worst thing the crew can face. It doesn't take long for a fire to overcome the crew's efforts.
To be clear, I'm not by any means saying that the chance of a cargo ship having a fire is high but that because there are a lot of cargo ships, incidents are not unusual.

Container ship fires 2000-2019. Source: Everstream Analytics

(from [www.freightwaves.com])
“Sources suggest that container fires may occur on a weekly basis and statistics indicate there is a major container cargo fire at sea roughly every 60 days.”

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/02/2022 03:34PM by Boxsterra.
(view changes)
Well, every class of vessel that carries commercial freight is a cargo vessel. As I stated above most fires do not originate in the "cargo hold" and I probably should have qualified that my statement is specific to RO/ROs. RO/RO cargo holds are wide open decks - think underground parking garage. While some vessels back in the early development of RO/ROs could be called "roll on roll off general cargo" vessels which could carry anything that could be rolled abroad, most modern builds are much more specialized,
Car carriers are an example. Containers cannot be carried on a car carrier because they are not built with the deck height to accommodate them.

Keep in mind that the fire did not necessarily have to start in a battery - a fire started elsewhere that spread into the deck with the electric cars would almost certainly result in battery fires that made controlling them more difficult and ultimately led to the loss of the vessel. This accident makes me question if the regulators have caught up with the differences in firefighting techniques when dealing with battery fires.

Container fires are a different issue - most often made more difficult to fight because shippers load them with hazardous materials and don't state so on the manifest. In the early 80's the company I worked for had a fire at sea enroute to Alaska in a military container mounted on a ro/ro chassis. The manifest stated the contents were household goods - it was later revealed that it was loaded with chemicals. The fire proved extremely difficult causing damage that required taking the ship out of service. If anyone is interested see the link.

"A mile of highway will take you one mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere."
Is what would have happened if all those vehicles were gas, We do know some of those vehicles were gas. (Lambos)

And would the incident have gotten the same publicity of they were all just a normal shipment of gas cars and not of the brands they were? How soon did the Nissan incident fade from view?

Not to mention there are publicity spreading groups that spread anti-EV publicity.

Having been involved with vessels that required extensive damage control, was the ship equipped with the equipment and training to combat any fire? A battery fire?
.You an EV lawyer, Mike? confused smiley

"A mile of highway will take you one mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere."
.You an anti--EV advocate, Gary? (some weird emoji would be here, but...)
.You an anti--EV advocate, Gary? (some weird emoji would be here, but...)

Nope, unlike some offering subtle comments, but no clearly stated position, I couldn't care less. smileys with beer

Just suggesting it's wise to take the political spin out of the conversation.

"A mile of highway will take you one mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere."
International rules limit the amount of fuel that can be in the fuel tanks to 10% of capacity. The rule has been in place for years. The fixed firefighting systems are designed around this and other rules so that "fueled" vehicle fires can be effectivly extinguished. Also, there are fixed gasoline vapor detection systems in place that monitor the cargo spaces so the crew can respond quickly to a fuel leak before a fire starts. I am not current with the rules relative to battery powered cars but I am concerned that they may not be sufficient to deal with a fire that occurs in a space with electric vehicles. As I said above - the fire doesn't have to start in a vehicle, but if it results electric vehicles being burned there needs to be effective firefighting methods in practice.

The concern about lithium batteries is legitimate. Some high profile accidents where Teslas were heavily damaged resulted in local firefighters having trouble extinguishing the fires. There have been lessons learned and applied so that firefighters can effectively manage electric vehicle fires. That doesn't constitute a political position. It is just a fact. And is the shipping industry making or being made to adjust their firefighting skills and equipment? As a mariner my concern is safety at sea, not whether electric vehicles are desirable or not.
"A mile of highway will take you one mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere."
Even a hybrid has special handling needs when it comes to crashes just due to the high voltages involved. And even a simple tow is more complex with them. I'm going to ask my local firefighters if they get any special training on hybrids or EVs. Like where is the kill switch (usually a link).

A random statistic. There were 164k vehicle fires in 2013 and how many EVs on the road back then? All I'm saying that if a Chevy caught fire like the one did yesterday a half mile from my house after it T-boned a guard rail end at a ridiculous speed there would be zero publicity. But everyone now wants clicks and a story about the hot new thing or the luxury vehicle is sure to make the news.
The thing is
Boxsterra - 2 years ago
that electric car fires are almost always caused by the battery overheating, due to either design flaw or damage, not due to external factors. An external fire that is under control will not result in an electric car battery to burst into flames.

The fact of the matter in this case is that we don't know even if there were electric cars onboard, not to mention if they contributed -- and how much -- to the fire. If information about those things becomes available then there is something to talk about.
(source - emphasis mine)

Headline: "Ship on Fire Carrying Porsches, Bentleys, VWs Included Many EVs: Report"

the automaker most likely to be affected is Porsche, which imports the Taycan from the plant in Zuffenhausen, Germany. A Porsche spokesperson told Car and Driver, "It is too early to speculate on the cause of the incident."


Firefighting crews and salvage teams are on their way to deal with the massive fire, which could be more difficult to get under control with EV batteries on board. There is no confirmation yet that this is the case, but it is likely that EVs were part of the cargo.
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