Things Don’t Look Good For The Mercedes EVs On This Burning Cargo Ship

Things Don’t Look Good For The Mercedes EVs On This Burning Cargo Ship

This morning, a Fremantle Highway cargo ship caught fire while hauling large quantities of cars off the Dutch coast. Without warning, a massive flame suddenly engulfed the ship, forcing the crew of 23 to evacuate and jump overboard. Several of the crew members were injured in the jump, while one crew member is confirmed to have died in the heat of the fire.

The Dutch coast guard arrived on the scene to take measures against the fire, clamping it to a salvage vessel to prevent drifting and hosing down the surface with water. 

At the time of writing, the fire is still raging, and may continue for several more days as the coast guard gets matters under control and salvage operators determine next steps. Rescue squads are being careful in their application of water, as too much at once could cause the vessel to sink, which would make salvaging its remains a much more difficult process.

What started the fire?

The ship’s cargo included around 3,000 vehicles. According to a Reuters report, 350 of these cars were Mercedes-branded, and around 25 of which were electric vehicles; other manufacturers have not yet been confirmed. Neither has the precise cause of the fire been identified by either the ship’s crew or rescue personnel, though one theory is that the initial spark came from one of the EVs — specifically from a chemical reaction in their batteries.

Footage shows smoke billowing from a cargo ship that caught fire off the coast of the Netherlands in the North Sea, killing at least one person and injuring several.

— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 26, 2023

“Electric cars burn just as much as combustion engine cars. When batteries overheat and a so-called ‘thermal runaway’ occurs, then it gets dangerous,” Uwe-Peter Schieder, representative of the German Insurance Association, explained to Reuters. “A chemical reaction in the battery produces gases which inflate the battery.”

The surviving members of the crew were rescued from the scene via helicopter airlift, and are currently undergoing treatment for injuries including broken bones, severe burns, and smoke inhalation.

“There was lot [sic] of smoke and the fire spread quickly, much faster than expected,” Royal Dutch Rescue Company member Willard Molenaar told reporters. “The people on board had to get off quickly … We fished them out of the water.”

The current state of the vehicles aboard the ship is unknown, though they have more than likely been damaged beyond repair in the blaze. This is the latest of EV-induced ship fires, with a previous incident occurring in February of 2022 off the coast of Portugal.

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