Since 23 September, the fire-ravaged car carrier Fremantle Highway has been moored at the quay of Damen Shipyards Botlek in the Port of Rotterdam. The Dutch DCMR Environmental Protection Agency and Port of Rotterdam Authority have since visited the ship to assess environmental and safety risks.

DCMR now states it sees no indications that any nuisance could be caused to the surrounding area by the presence of the ship.

All electric cars have been taken off board. However, decks 5 to 12 were damaged by the fire, as were the vehicles that were here. Wrecks of non-electric cars were also found here. The decks below deck 5, including the engine room, are still intact.

The new owner plans to restore the ship. A plan of action for that will be submitted to government authorities for review. If all goes ahead, the ship may enter dock at Damen Shipyards Botlek as early as the end of this week.

Also read: Dutch Safety Board investigates emergency response Fremantle Highway

Fremantle Highway fire

The Fremantle Highway caught fire in the North Sea in the night of 25 to 26 July 2023. The crew were unable to extinguish the fire and one of them was killed in the fire. The other 22 were injured and evacuated. It took until 1 August before the fire was extinguished. The ship was en route from Germany’s Bremerhaven to Port Said in Egypt and from there to Singapore. The vessel carried 3783 cars, nearly 500 of which were electric. 

Owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha contracted Boskalis (Smit Salvage) and Multraship to salvage the ship. The car carrier was towed north of Schiermonnikoog due to wind and currents and to get it away from busy shipping lines. A port was then sought to tow the vessel to, which became the Eemshaven in the north of the Netherlands. The ship arrived here on 3 August.

Koole contracts Damen for clean-up

Once the decks were cleared by the salvors, Koole Contractors, which has become the new owner of the car carrier, contracted Damen Shipyards to accommodate the vessel. The Freemantle Highway left Eemshaven on 21 September and arrived in Rotterdam on 23 September. Damen will carry out clean-up work and inspections, which the yard says will take about four to five months.

Picture by the Dutch Ministry of Defence.

Also read: Which factors play a role in rising number of ship fires?