Deadly Cargo Ship Fire Leads to Crew Rescue, Uncertain Future

( – On Wednesday, July 26, at 5:23 a.m. local time, the Netherlands Coastguard (Kustwacht Nederland or KNRM) reported the evacuation of all 23 crew members of a freight ship using one of its cutters and a helicopter. The vessel, the Fremantle Highway, caught fire and was floating in the North Sea about 27 kilometers (nearly 17 miles) from Ameland, one of the West Frisian Islands located off the Netherlands’ north coast.

Sadly, the KNRM noted that one crew member died as a result of the blaze. Additionally, uncertainty surrounds the ship’s ultimate fate due to the nature of its cargo load.

The Fate of a Burning Netherlands Ship Remains Uncertain

American media outlets quickly picked up on the story, reporting that the freight ship was burning out of control. On Wednesday afternoon, KNRM spokesperson Lea Versteeg spoke to reporters by phone, confirming the presence of several vessels to “monitor the situation” and determine how to get the blaze “under control.”

Versteeg said that KNRM personnel hoped for a quick outcome to the situation. However, he said factors outside their control, like the current damage to the ship and the weather, would play a role in extinguishing the blaze. Asked if he thought the Fremantle Highway would sink, he admitted it’s a potential outcome they were “taking into account” while they prepare for various scenarios.

CBS News reported that the ship carried nearly 3,000 automobiles. Twenty-five were electric vehicles (EVs), creating complications with extinguishing the fire.

Electric Vehicles Present Difficulty When Present During Fires

The presence of EVs on the Fremantle Highway presents a severe challenge to firefighting efforts. For instance, if an EFV catches fire, its lithium batteries provide their own source of fuel for the blaze and can burn for hours. Additionally, they emit massive amounts of heat that can spark a chain reaction, with one battery pack igniting the next one. A situation like KNRM officials are facing on the Fremantle Highway can be particularly challenging since the presence of multiple EVs exacerbates that reaction.

Additionally, it takes massive amounts of water to put out a fire involving an EV due to that chain reaction and extended fuel supply. A recent NBC news report revealed that Houston firefighters used roughly 28,000 gallons of water to extinguish a Tesla Model S that caught fire during a traffic accident. Putting that in context, a typical fire involving a car with an internal combustion engine takes about 300 gallons.

In the case of the Fremantle Highway blaze, that high volume of water presents an additional hazard. An update to the KNRM statement confirmed that the massive amount of water accumulated on the ship is complicating their efforts to prevent the vessel from sinking.


Despite the problems surrounding EV fires, the Biden administration continues its steadfast efforts to decommission gasoline-operated vehicles and replace them with electric cars.

It’s bad enough that the shift would end thousands of jobs in the energy and transportation sectors; the county would also have to contend with fires that take up a two-year supply of water for a typical American household to extinguish.

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