As if the global supply chain for large goods like cars wasn't already hopelessly snarled enough, a massive cargo ship called the Felicity Ace has caught fire near the mid-Atlantic islands, forcing its crew to abandon the ship (and its valuable cargo).
According to The Washington Post, the ship and all 22 crew members have been rescued...but the Porsches, Volkswagens, Audis and other brand-new cars left on board are still adrift in the middle of the Atlantic.
The cars were expected to be delivered to North America...but they hit a snag when the ship's engine room caught fire earlier this month.
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.
Given the number of cars being held on the ship, treasure hunters or perhaps mercenaries hired by the ship's insurer may be going after it, hoping to rescue some of the cars for themselves. Approximately 2,500 cars is a significant number, considering the situation both in the US and around the world.
Apparently, Porsche isn't worried.Porsche gave the following statement to Road & Track:
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. Customers affected by the incident are being contacted by their dealer.
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 maintain in contact with dealer with which their order was placed.
We believe around 1,100 of our cars were among the estimated 2,500 vehicles on board the ship at the time of the incident.
Nearly 200 Bentleys are also onboard the stranded vessel, along with "a number" of Audis.
A Bentley spokesperson confirmed to The Drive that 189 of its vehicles are also on board the Felicity Ace, worth an estimated $30 million by themselves, according to the publication. The Drive also confirmed with Audi that a number of its cars were also aboard the now-abandoned ship, but the company declined to elaborate on just how many.
Customers are commiserating online, sharing tips on message boards about what they can do if a car belonging to them remains aboard.
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.
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.
If the cars are eventually lost, the manufacturers will more likely than not replace the new models that their customers are waiting for, even if that requires them to move mountains on the production side. Then again, it could still create some serious problems by forcing customers to wait, possibly for months.
Keep in mind, according to Maritime Law, whoever recovers the ship is entitled to compensation under the "law of salvage". Of course, if pirates get there first, they might take the entire cargo for themselves, if they could find a way to move or tow the ship away.