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The Wall Street Journal: Burning EV batteries complicate firefighting efforts on adrift cargo ship

The large number of electric vehicles on board a ship that is drifting ablaze in the Atlantic Ocean is complicating efforts to extinguish the fire, the Dutch experts contracted to salvage the vessel said Sunday.

It is unclear whether the blaze was caused by the electric cars, whose lithium-ion batteries have been known to catch fire, but the presence of burning batteries on board means SMIT Salvage, the company contracted to rescue the ship, is facing fire that spreads fast and cannot be fought with water alone, the company’s owners said.

“The cars are electric and part of the fire is the batteries that are still burning,” said a spokesman for Royal Boskalis Westminster NV, which owns SMIT Salvage and the company that freed the ship Ever Given after it became stranded in the Suez Canal last year.

The spokesman added that it was too early to say how SMIT would put out the battery fires.

The 60,000-ton Felicity Ace merchant ship was carrying around 4,000 cars from Germany to the U.S., including 1,100 Porsche sports cars and 189 super-luxury Bentleys, which are all units of Volkswagen AG
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when it caught fire last Wednesday, leading to the evacuation of the 22 crew members. It has been drifting just off the Azores islands since.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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