Cargo Ship on Fire in the Atlantic Has 189 Bentleys, 1,100 Porsches, Lots of Audis On Board

As the fire on the cargo ship Felicity Ace rages on, we’re learning more about what’s on board—including nearly 200 Bentley vehicles.

byJames Gilboy| UPDATED Feb 17, 2022 8:42 PM
Cargo Ship on Fire in the Atlantic Has 189 Bentleys, 1,100 Porsches, Lots of Audis On Board
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The cargo ship Felicity Ace, loaded with thousands of VW Group vehicles, continues to burn over a thousand miles off the coast of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean following a successful rescue effort yesterday captained by the Portuguese Navy that saw its crew of 22 safely abandon ship. Now adrift without a crew, the car carrier is fast becoming a smoking graveyard as the shipping line that operates it and other parties start to consider salvage operations. And it's going to be an expensive time. In addition to the Porsche and VW vehicles we confirmed were on board yesterday, we can now report that 189 Bentleys and an unspecified number of Audis—likely in the hundreds—are also on the Felicity Ace.

A Bentley spokesperson confirmed to The Drive that 189 of its vehicles are on board the Felicity Ace, which according to some back of the napkin math makes for an rough total retail value of at least $30 million. Accounting for a varying mix of models and options, the actual dollar value likely exceeds that by many millions. Audi too confirmed the presence of its products aboard but declined to provide (or even estimate) the number, though shipping logs from previous voyages show it regularly carries well over a thousand Audis in one go.

"We are aware of an incident involving a third-party cargo ship transporting Volkswagen Group vehicles across the Atlantic," commented an Audi spokesperson. "The vessel was on its way to North America. At this time, we are not aware of any injuries. We are in contact with the shipping company to get more information about the incident."

Felicity Ace has also transported as many as 21 Lamborghinis on a voyage just last month, though Lamborghini declined to specifically comment on the matter today and instead forwarded a general statement from VW Group. Insider obtained a statement from VW saying the Felicity Ace was carrying approximately 4,000 vehicles at the time of the fire, and per Autoblog, about 1,100 are Porsches. The majority of the rest are likely Volkswagens or Audis—though the ship has sporadically carried small numbers of other VW Group makes. In case you're wondering, that doesn't appear to include Bugatti, which has not appeared on any available recent manifests.

Both Audi and VW have been shipped on the boat in widely varying quantities over the last six months according to manifests published on ImportInfo.com. As few as 116 VWs and 53 Audis have made the trip, and as many as 2,294 and 1,726 respectively. VWs don't always outnumber Audis, though, so the proportion of one to the other currently aboard the Felicity Ace is impossible to estimate. 

Car carrier losses aren't a common phenomenon, as large ship losses as a whole have sharply declined over the last few years according to the Insurance Information Institute. Losses ran in the neighborhood of 100 ships annually until 2018, when the number plunged to 53, a mark which has since not been surpassed. According to Allianz's Safety and Shipping Review 2021, only 18 large cargo ships were lost last year, or about one every three weeks.

It's unclear how many cars are shipped overseas annually, but a few thousand insured losses are but a drop in the bucket to what the Fortune 500 ranks as the tenth biggest company in the world. And while some of the cars' would-be owners will be distraught at the loss of their limited-production vehicles, they're probably not up a creek without a paddle. If Porsche was willing to reboot 911 GT2 RS production after a few were lost in a similar accident in 2019, it'll have no qualms replacing a Boxster Spyder or two that went up in smoke on Felicity Ace.

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