This has been kept very quiet in the UK.

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readJul 30, 2023

Fire on board the Fremantle Highway ship

The Fremantle Highway caught fire off the Dutch island of Ameland on July 26. The car carrier had set out from Bremerhaven, Germany, to sail to Singapore. The cause of the fire has not been definitively established, but it is possible that the battery in one of the electric cars on board ignited.

So let's take a closer look at this fire on the ship that started on 26 July 2023

It seems the fire aboard the freighter off the coast of the Netherlands on 30 July 2023 has subsided enough for the damaged ship to be towed away. But some key questions and answers concerning the accident remain. Yes It has taken around-the-clock fire fighting to get it under control enough to tow it away

What caused the fire?

The Fremantle Highway caught fire off the Dutch island of Ameland on July 26. The car carrier had set out from Bremerhaven, Germany, to sail to Singapore. The cause of the fire has not been definitively established, but it is possible that the battery in one of the electric cars on board ignited.

This can happen, for example as a consequence of a production error. On Friday evening, the Dutch authorities reported that the fire had died down and was emitting less smoke. However, it is still burning, and it is not clear how long the freighter can withstand the heat.

According to the German environment ministry, the ship is carrying 1,600 tons of heavy fuel oil and another 200 tons of marine diesel oil. There is still the danger of an environmental disaster.

Does the transport of electric vehicles endanger shipping?

It is difficult to make a general statement about this. The Allianz insurance company records that 209 ship fires were reported last year. That is the highest number in a decade, up 17% in 2021. Thirteen of those fires occurred on car carriers — but it is not clear how many of them involved electric vehicles.

What is clear is that electric vehicles are powered by lithium-ion batteries, similar to those used in laptops. If a battery of this type is faulty — for example, if it short-circuits — it can spontaneously combust.

It is evident from the precautionary measures taken on commercial flights that this can be a serious problem. Passengers on planes are not allowed to check in laptops in their suitcases but must take their computers with them into the cabin as hand luggage. If a device gets hot or starts smoking, passengers are told to notify the crew immediately, something that is now explicitly mentioned before every takeoff.

There are strict regulations for air freight, too. Only certain types of batteries may be transported on cargo-only aircraft, and then only under strict conditions with regard to packaging, for example.

Why is this fire so hard to put out?

The Fremantle Highway car carrier had around 3,800 new cars on board, including 500 electric vehicles. The lithium-ion batteries installed in these vehicles are extremely difficult to extinguish once they start to burn. The fire cannot be extinguished with water or by oxygen deprivation, as this carries a risk of explosion. Not only that, but thermal processes can also cause fires spontaneously to reignite. Burning batteries must be extinguished with special substances that are often not to hand on ships like the Fremantle Highway.

What makes a fire on a freighter so challenging?

Insurance experts say the fire on the Fremantle Highway has brought attention to a problem that has existed for some time: inadequate fire protection on ships. More and more equipment with lithium-ion batteries is being transported worldwide — yet extinguishing systems on freighters are often outdated, and have not kept pace with the new fire protection challenges.

Another difficulty is that car carriers like the Fremantle Highway are essentially giant floating car parks. Cars are packed in close together, and the ceilings separating them are low. This makes it hard for firefighters to get to the source of the fire. In the event of an accident, it is easier to extinguish fires in electric vehicles if they are being transported on trucks or by rail.

Is this fire already having consequences?

A spokesperson for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has said that, in light of the growing number of fires on cargo ships, it plans to bring in new safety standards for those transporting electric vehicles next year. The IMO, which is based in London, sets the regulations for safety at sea. The guidelines could include specifications on how fully a battery can be charged. New chemicals for extinguishing fires, special fire blankets, battery-penetrating jet extinguishers, and bigger gaps between electric vehicles could also become mandatory.

This article has been translated from German.

However, if these electric cars are prone to catching fire and they are hard to put out this is actualy a serious problem for not just British people but for all people who buy them all over the world.

Imagine that you park your car in your garage attached to your home and you go to bed and then in the middle of your sleep around 3 am your car suddenly bursts into flames. I know I am dead to the world around 3 am and if that car is smoking like it does that smoke if it's below my bedroom or a bedroom of a child could actualy kill me or the children long before the rest of the household wake up. But let's say you all survive and manage to get out alive. Your home will burn to the ground because it takes so long to put the fire out, and even if they manage to contain it in the garage the fire brigade will have ruined everything you have in your home with water to stop the house from catching fire from the heat of the car fire. You will be left with nothing.

Yet our government in particular are so hell-bent on Zero emissions they are going to make sure if you buy a new car it will be an electric car. And it won't matter if you vote in Labour, or Lib Dems they will too are all for Zero emissions and are hell-bent on you buying an Electric car.



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.