Specialist firefighters in situ in Eemshaven for Fremantle Highway

Stricken car carrier Fremantle Highway (IMO 9667344) was safely berthed in Eemshaven. Netherlands, at around 14:00 local time on August 3rd, bringing to an end the first stage of the salvaging of the vessel which had more than 3,000 new vehicles on board that were intended for the Asian market, including just shy of 500 electric vehicles.

A wall of dozens of yellow shipping containers has been erected around the ship, with a specialist Dutch navy firefighting team of 11 keeping an eye on the vessel. The team has brought special equipment to the port, including an aerial work platform with a range of 60 metres.

The fire that seriously damaged the ship was thought to have started on the eighth deck, according to reports, a theory at the moment mainly based on the fact that this was the most damaged deck. Royal Boskalis Westminster NV said that a part of it had collapsed completely.

Several hundred BMW Group cars and some 300 Mercedes-Benz Group vehicles, were on board. On the vessel were a number of new Rolls Royces heading for allocated buyers on the Asian market. BMW AG said that they would be notifying the to-be-disappointed owners personally.

There will be a number of parallel investigations in to the incident.

It will take a couple of weeks to unload much of the cargo at Eemshaven. Boskalis has been commissioned to remove the part of the cargo that is still intact, although this will not occur until the ship has been inspected by the salvors, the shipping company and  by the insurer. It will then be decided if it will be feasible for the cars to be disembarked in the port.

It has not yet been determined whether the Fremantle Highway will be deemed a constructive total loss. Salvors have already undertaken an inspection from deck five, the ramp deck. This showed that decks one to four were relatively undamaged. Moving up from there, things got progressively worse until deck eight was reached. That deck was very badly damaged.

None of the cars on board were expected to be recoverable, meaning that the cargo loss alone will run into more than $300m, and possibly as much as $500m. Apart from BMW Group brands (BMW, Mini, Rolls Royce, BMW Motorrad), Mercedes (whose brands include Aston Martin), Volkswagen (brands include Bentley, Porsche, Lamborghini, Audi, SEAT, Skoda) as well as five Tadamo cranes, were on board.

Eventually the Fremantle Highway will either be moved to a yard for repairs or to be decommissioned.

Although the ship will be able to stay at Eemshaven for quite a while, it will have to be gone before October 14th. This is because it has been berthed at a private quay belonging to Wagenborg, which has indicated that another large ship was due to arrive on that date.

Meanwhile, Japanese ship leasing company Shoei Kisen Kaisha has said that it will be investigating the cause of the incident, in cooperation with relevant parties.

The ship caught fire on July 26th, not long after the vessel had left Bremerhaven, Germany, en route to the Asian market via Suez. The fire took hold rapidly and led to one fatality and several injuries among the 22 crew. Shoei said in a statement that all those who were hospitalized due to the incident, including the captain, had been discharged from the hospital by Thursday August 3rd.

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, or “K” Line, the Japanese shipping company that had chartered the Fremantle Highway, also said on Friday that the vessel’s owner would investigate the extent of damage and cause of the accident in cooperation with the authorities. K Line previously said there were 3,783 vehicles on board the ship, including 498 electric vehicles.

2013-built, Panama-flagged, 59,525 gt Fremantle Highway is owned by Luster Maritime / Higaki Sangyo care of Shoei Kisen KK of Imabari, Japan. It is entered with Japan Club on behalf of Luster Maritime SA.