Tugs Tow Burning Cargo Ship

Salvage crews ready to board 'as soon as possible' to assess the situation in North Sea
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 1, 2023 10:10 AM CDT
Tugs Tow Burning Cargo Ship
The freight ship Fremantle Highway in the North Sea on Sunday.   (Kustwacht Nederland/Netherlands Coastguard via AP)

A cargo ship carrying thousands of cars that has been burning on the North Sea for nearly a week was towed Monday to a new location further from the Dutch coast to wait for salvage crews to decide their next steps, the government said. The Fremantle Highway arrived earlier than expected at an anchorage 10 miles north of the Dutch islands of Schiermonnikoog and Ameland, thanks to favorable currents, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management said. A salvage team is planning to board the burning vessel "as soon as possible" to carry out an inspection, the ministry added, per the AP.

The ship carrying 3,783 new vehicles, including 498 electric vehicles, has been burning since Tuesday. Firefighters decided not to douse the flames with water for fear of making the nearly 656-foot ship unstable as it floats close to North Sea shipping lanes and a world-renowned migratory bird habitat. A photo posted online by the Dutch ministry Monday showed almost no smoke emerging from the ship. The ministry said smoke was "minimal" as it was towed. It remains unclear where the Fremantle Highway will be towed next. "The final port is not yet known," the ministry says. "It depends in part on the situation on board the cargo ship, the expected weather conditions, and an available port with the right facilities." The cause of the fire isn't yet known. One member of the ship's crew died after the blaze broke out and others were injured. The crew was evacuated in the early hours Wednesday.

(More cargo ships stories.)

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