The deadly Fremantle Highway fire made lifeboats inaccessible

Photo: Dutch Coast Guard

Yet another car inferno carrying electric vehicle batteries explicitly named as the culprit, resulting in the death of a sailor and the injury of 22 others, raises safety concerns that go beyond the fire hazard itself.

Seven flying the flag of Panama Fremantle HighwayThe 25-man crew jumped from the ship into the water, sustaining injuries and broken bones – and a drop of about 30 meters entails hitting sea water at 130 km/h – enough to be fatal.

“One by one they jumped out and we had to fish them out of the water,” said Willard Molinar, a lifeboat captain who arrived on the scene. “They were really desperate, so they had to jump in — you don’t just do it for him.”

It is operated by K-Line, but owned by the Imabari Shipbuilding Corporation subsidiary Fremantle Highway The tragedy adds to the carrier’s already patchy safety record, whose designs suffered from a number of major shortcomings even before electric vehicle-related onboard fires broke out. These include impact free surface and high wind resistance.

“One of the issues that should be of concern is the crew,” said Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s director of risk management. loadstar.

“You had 25 people on board, most of whom managed to get off, and one of them died tragically. But some of them had to jump—it couldn’t be right. They shouldn’t have jumped off the ship, there should be a lifeboat.”

Actually pictures Fremantle Highway From before the fire emerge twin lifeboats positioned behind the bridge. Unfortunately, analysis of the video footage appears to show the initial explosion and subsequent fire in a cargo area just below it, before it spreads the length of the ship. Aerial video footage from the Dutch Coast Guard shows two lifeboats still aboard the burning ship, apparently unused.

“There will be investigations” to determine why lifeboats were not used, Storrs-Fox said.

This month, another accident, aboard the Grimaldi roller coaster Greater Ivory Coast, While side by side, it claimed the lives of two New York firefighters — although authorities have written off EV batteries as a possible cause. Newark Mayor told The New York Times He wanted to create a unit that would be specially trained to respond to emergencies in the city’s port.

In case Felicity Acewhich went missing in February 2022, it is not thought possible to determine whether the presence of electric cars was the cause, but authorities agreed it was almost certain. exacerbation factor. In 2019, three vehicle carriers were lost, two, Diamond Highway And great america, related to catastrophic fires.

“At this point, we have to recognize that there’s been a bad streak (of fires), if not an alarming trend,” Stores told Fox.

after a loss Felicity AceSafety measures taken across the car carrier sector include, in some cases, refusing to load used or damaged electric vehicles altogether. Among the shipowners who have done so is K-Line native, MOL.

“First, these crews aren’t firefighters — they have firefighting training, but they also have 101 other jobs,” Stores told Fox.

“Honestly, everyone is in a catch-up mode. The auto industry seems to be focused on everything but safety — how do we get more charge in these things (the batteries), how can we charge them (these) faster. I’ve seen very little interest in safety. … there is no one saying “how do we deal with the first responders”, “how do we deal with those who will transport and store these vehicles on behalf of the manufacturers?”.

“Improving safety will be a matter of getting people to come out of their silos and talk to each other.”

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