Car. Fires

The title is a bit misleading

A RO-RO ship from Emden Germany to a Rhode Island terminal is on fire. The ship carries a lot of Porsches and VWs, and was abandoned by the crew a couple days ago. It will be towed to port and the damages assessed. I’d hate to have my brand new Porsche on that boat. Many cars won’t be damaged, except possibly by smoke. Besides odor, how do you tell whether a new car has fire damage after repairs, and how much does it matter? I’m sure there is a range of severities. Maybe the real question isnhouwnmuchndo you trust Porsche and VW?

That smoke damage can be fairly significant. Plenty of combustibles in cars and on a ship that emit the kind of smoke that does real numbers on paint jobs. Not to mention there’s probably some chemicals in there that won’t do any favors to rubber seals/etc. If I had to guess, they’re just gonna total out all those cars . They might or might not bother fixing the ship.


Ships fires have always surprised me… Big steel structure on LOADS of water to put the fire out…

I’d guess the ship will be salvaged. Just too much value there to scrap out unless the fire gets really huge.

One of the news sites states that there were also more than 100 Bentleys on board that ship. The insurance company is going to be paying-out a massive claim, I think.

Water isn’t always appropriate to put out fires. It depends on how the fire started and what is still burning. There should be a fire suppression system on board too. I guess we’ll find out when the ship gets to port and the fire is out. I imagine none of the car buyers are on the hook for anything more than a longer wait if their cars are total losses.


I wonder if they’re hesitant to use water if they’re worried that the bunker fuel ignited. You wouldn’t want to use it if there’s an electrical fire either.


Both good posts with good info. Not a fire-fighter nor any nautical experience on my part so I really don’t know. But it always seemed funny to me. I’ve always heard fire on ships is a huge problem.

Even if the cars were ordered by customers, they are still owned by the company. Maybe not VAG but certainly not the dealer or eventual private buyer.

The insurance company is gonna eat these…


Fires on ships are always bad. The wooden ships had rope and fabric everywhere and a lot of things were waterproofed with tar and wax and the warships had gunpowder everywhere. You always had a torch burning in order to fire the cannons. You had the problem of keeping a fire lit and extinguishing one where you didn’t want it.


There are Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicles on that ship, I doubt they were prepared to extinguish a lithium-ion fire. To evacuate the ship was a wise move.


The shipping company’s insurer will pay.

Reports of Audi E Tron’s also on board.

From the reports on Rennlist and a few that had cars on that boat via twitter, Porsche is telling dealers to re-order the car’s which are going to be prioritized but exactly how fast is to be seen.

Ships are designed to keep water out. In a Joseph Conrad story (‘Youth’?) a coal ship’s coal caught fire (back then it was loose in the hold), they sailed into port, sank it, then raised it after the fire was out.

I think this is how Lloyd’s started: insuring ships.

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Ship fires are very difficult to deal with. All the narrow stairs are chimneys for gases and heat to rise up. When you hit the fire with water a huge amount of steam is produced. Now you have reduced visibility and risk of steam burns -steam can penetrate the bunker gear and the results are a really bad day. The air supply lasts about a half an hour or less under strenuous activity, so you have 10 minutes to get to the fire, 10 minutes to exit and 10 minutes to fight the fire without a reserve for problems. You need a lot of people and air bottle capacity to try to rotate crews. A young healthy fire fighter would need to rest at least half an hour between trips, so you need a lot of folks if you try a direct attack. If you try to get to the fire from the side you face bulkheads that start to fail due to the heat. Not an ideal situation. Since the crew is accounted for, there is no reason to risk life to save Lloyds a few dollars. Putting water in from the outside and hoping the bilge pumps still operate is the best approach.


A friend served on the USS Forrestal in the '60s, after the fire. He said they called it the Forrest Fire.


Possibly I’m a “vulture” but my immediate thought was that there maybe there will be some very nice cars landing at he Rhode Island port with “smoke damage” at a big discount?

Just between you and me, I’m hoping to land a “smokey” Porsche at VW prices. :wink:


I’m betting they are sent to the crusher.


The insurer won’t sell them in them in the USA more than likely. Nigeria has a thriving business in selling stolen US cars. It’s a great place to unload these cars.


That’s what happened with the load of Mazda’s a few years ago, sad to see but not worth the risk.

The latest report on this fire seems to indicate that VW Group wasn’t fully-insured:
"Another consultant issued a report Monday that estimated VW’s loss at more than $155 million."