The Felicity Ace, a cargo ship carrying more than $400 million worth of cars, including Porsches, Bentleys and Lamborghinis, caught fire off the coast of the Azores last week.
All 22 crewmembers were evacuated from the vessel but the fire continued for several days, in part due to lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles.
Earlier this week, two firefighting tugboats were set to join the patrol boat and salvage team to try to tame the fire, with another due on Saturday.
The value of the cars comes from an insurance estimate made by the Russell Group, who also valued losses at around $155 million for Volkswagen, the owner of the models on board.
The ship was carrying more than 4,000 vehicles, along with 2,000 metric tons of fuel and 2,000 metric tons of oil, though harbourmaster Captain Joao Mendes Cabecas, of the port of Horba, said there was currently no threat of pollution.
The cause of the blaze is not known, but the lithium-ion batteries, which were being transported from Germany to the USA, are considered the most likely suspect.
DID YOU KNOW: lithium-ion batteries are considered hazardous items? This means you can’t send them via international courier unless they are contained within another device, such as a laptop or mobile phone, and they have to meet certain restrictions for battery power. For some carriers and destinations, they are entirely prohibited.
In recent years, the industry has cracked down on lithium battery shipments because they are dangerous if not handled carefully or if they are misdeclared—especially onboard aircraft, due to the high pressures in cargo holds. When damaged, they are corrosive and highly flammable.
There have also been fires on board container ships due to misdeclared lithium-ion batteries.