High winds stall efforts to tow a burning cargo ship packed with cars off northern Dutch coast

by Gabriel Martinez
Fremantle Highway fire

Strong gusts from the North Sea are impeding operations to pull a blazing cargo ship filled with numerous automobiles to a safe location away from the northern coast of the Netherlands, according to a government announcement on Sunday.

The relocation of the vessel Fremantle Highway, which is currently on fire, was not anticipated to take place on Sunday due to the prevailing southwesterly wind, as per the statement from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

“With the southwesterly wind expected to persist in the coming days, the initiation of the towing operation for the Fremantle Highway to a new temporary spot could be delayed for several more days,” the Ministry reported in a Saturday evening update.

It also pointed out that the combination of smoke from the fire and the direction of the wind implies that during the towing process, smoke could envelop the tugboat.

On Saturday, salvage teams managed to secure a second towing cable to the ship, which is transporting 3,783 new vehicles, 498 of which are electric vehicles, from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Singapore. Ultimately, the salvage teams aim to bring the afflicted ship to a port, but the specifics of when and where this will happen are yet to be determined.

The ship, which is nearly 200 meters (approximately 219 yards) in length, has been ablaze since Tuesday. Firefighters have chosen not to extinguish the fire with water, fearing that it might destabilize the ship that is currently floating close to the North Sea shipping routes and a globally celebrated bird migration habitat.

Following the ignition of the fire, one crew member was reported dead and several others injured. The crew was evacuated in the early hours of Wednesday.

The reason behind the fire outbreak remains undetermined.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Fremantle Highway fire

What is delaying the towing of the burning ship off the Dutch coast?

High winds blowing across the North Sea are currently stalling the efforts to tow the burning cargo ship, Fremantle Highway, to safety off the Dutch coast.

What is the cargo of the Fremantle Highway?

The Fremantle Highway is transporting 3,783 new vehicles, which include 498 electric vehicles, from the German port of Bremerhaven to Singapore.

Why are firefighters not using water to douse the flames?

Firefighters have decided against using water to extinguish the fire due to the fear that it could make the nearly 200-meters (219-yard) ship unstable as it is currently floating close to North Sea shipping lanes and a globally celebrated migratory bird habitat.

What is the status of the crew aboard the Fremantle Highway?

Following the fire breakout, one crew member died and several others were injured. The crew was evacuated in the early hours of Wednesday.

What is the cause of the fire on the Fremantle Highway?

The cause of the fire on the Fremantle Highway has not yet been determined.

More about Fremantle Highway fire

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SteveBoatLover July 31, 2023 - 5:18 am

omg! can’t believe the winds are so strong! hope they manage to move it soon, poor birds…

MaritimeMike July 31, 2023 - 7:07 am

This just proves how dangerous the sea can be. Thoughts are with the crew who lost a member. Absolutely tragic.

SafetyFirst73 July 31, 2023 - 9:01 am

Seriously why cant they find out the cause of the fire? Need to prevent stuff like this happening in future.

PortWatcher July 31, 2023 - 4:39 pm

those salvage teams have some tough work cut out for them. Gotta say, wouldn’t want to be in their shoes right now…

EVGreenie August 1, 2023 - 1:00 am

Sad to hear about the electric vehicles onboard… We’re trying to save the environment, not cause more harm!


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