Some US$ 400 million of top brand cars (Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini) have been definitively lost when the carrier Felicty Ace with 4,000 units from the Volkswagen Group went down, close to the Portuguese Azores islands, nearly two weeks after a fire broke out in the vessel.
The Felicity Ace was heading from Germany to Rhode Island in United States when the crew was forced to abandon ship. Salvage teams finally several days later were able to secure a line to the vessel that was left adrift and were towing her. But weather conditions deteriorated in the area and the vessel had started to list.
A spokesperson for the ship’s managers, MOL Ship Management Singapore, told Bloomberg they were surprised by the reports from the salvage team when the vessel went down. MOL said that the vessel sank approximately 220 nautical miles off the Azores. The Portuguese Navy reported that the vessel was about 25 miles outside the limit of the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone. Depth in the area is reported at about 3,000 meters.
The Portuguese Navy is reporting that some debris has been seen in the area and a small oil stain. Dispersant was being sprayed from one of the salvage vessels. Other agencies are also monitoring the situation, with the Portuguese Air force expected to overfly the area.
News of the loss of the vessels comes after Volkswagen Group confirmed to car buyers some of the details of the extent of the damage and models involved. The company is estimating that US$ 400 million worth of cars were aboard, including 1,100 Porsches and 189 Bentleys and unspecified numbers of cars from Audi, Volkswagen, and Lamborghini. Volkswagen confirmed to buyers that its highly sought-after ID.4 electric SUVs were among the cars lost
The Felicity Ace was heading from Germany to Rhode Island when fire broke out close to the Azores
The 4,000 vehicles lost included Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Audi and VW electric SUVs
Havoc in global shipping, air freight as sanctions begin to bite
The world's two largest container shipping companies MSC and Maersk announced this week they halted cargo bookings to and from Russia as new Western sanctions wreaked havoc on already strained global supply chains.
The suspension, which did not include food or medicine, came after rival shipping companies Ocean Network Express and Hapag-Lloyd took similar steps to avoid transporting cargo subject to Western sanctions.
According to Maersk, Russian sanctions are beginning to affect trade, causing delays and cargo detention by customs authorities.
This is expected to create further supply bottlenecks as ports worldwide remain heavily congested due to an unexpected recovery in demand for goods from the lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Monday, UK banned all Russian vessels from entering its ports. “This is making an already difficult period for global logistics even worse,” said Peter Sand, an analyst at Xeneta, an Oslo-based shipping research group.
The disruption has also spread to the air freight market, where industry executives expect prices to rise as planes are forced to change routes.
The loss of Russian and Ukrainian aircraft specialized in transporting large goods is expected to exacerbate an existing aircraft shortage. “By dropping them now, you’re removing real capability from the market. As a result, freight rates will most likely start to rise,” said Neel Jones Shah, global director of air freight brokerage Flexport.
Russian and European airlines are almost entirely banned from each other’s skies, complicating flight routes for planes that deliver goods and raw materials from Asia to Europe.
According to the International Chamber of Shipping, the shipping industry is also facing new challenges due to difficulties in switching Russian and Ukrainian personnel, which supply 14.5% of the world’s sailors.
Last week Russia halted commercial shipping in the Sea of Azov, while Ukraine ceased operations at all its ports, including those in the Black Sea on its southern coast.
The invasion of Ukraine has also prompted insurers to quote additional premiums worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover ships traveling to the Black Sea against the danger of being caught in the crossfire.
Additionally, freight rates for oil tankers have increased, with traders betting that more oil will be exported from West Africa, the Middle East, and the US to replace Russian supplies.