The claim: Fire on cargo ship carrying electric vehicles ‘impossible to put out,’ ship must be sunk instead
“NETHERLANDS – 5 days of carbon emissions,” reads the post. “The Cargo ship carrying 2800 premium cars including 509 electric cars is erm, (sic) Proving impossible to put out! So they are going to sink it, destroying the sea bed instead! Very on message.”
The post was shared more than 100 times on Facebook, according to Crowdtangle, a social media analytics tool. It was also reposted more than 5,000 times on X.
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Our rating: False
The fire on the ship was not impossible to put out − it was already extinguished when this claim was made. There was never a plan to sink the vessel, according to the company that operates the ship.
Cargo ship fire extinguished prior to social media post
Pat Adamson, a spokesperson for “K” Line, the company that operates the Fremantle Highway, told USA TODAY that the fire has been extinguished and that the vessel is now moored at Eemshaven − a Dutch seaport.
“There was never any intention to sink the vessel to put out the fire,” he said.
Much of this information is publicly available.
On Aug. 1, the day before the claim was posted, Rijkswaterstaat, a Dutch government agency, reported there were no longer signs of fire on the vessel. The agency said the ship was “intact below the waterline,” did not heel over and had undergone an initial inspection by a salvage company.
Fact check: Video shows gas canister fire, not EV crash
The ship was carrying more than 3,700 vehicles, including about 500 electric vehicles, according to the Associated Press. The social media user who made the claim could not be reached, but the post seems to allude to the fact that extinguishing electric vehicle battery fires can be more challenging than putting out other types of fires.
An EV battery fire will likely last longer and “may require more resources, such as breathing apparatus wearers, more firefighters, water and appliances,” Emma Sutcliffe, project director at EV FireSafe, an Australian company that researches electric vehicle fires, told USA TODAY.
“It’s important to note that battery fires in road-registered electric vehicles are very rare,” she said. “Additionally, an ‘EV fire’ does not equal ‘EV battery fire.’ In fact, less than 50% of EV fires involve the high voltage battery. If the battery is not involved, we treat it like any other car fire.”
The cause of the fire on the Fremantle Highway has not yet been determined by the company and “will be part of the official investigation,” Adamson said.
On its website, the Dutch Coast Guard also reported that the agency did not know the cause of the fire.
The claim was also debunked by Reuters.
Our fact-check sources:
Emma Sutcliffe, Aug. 9, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Pat Adamson, Aug. 10, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Associated Press, Aug. 1, Dutch ministry says a fire that blazed for nearly a week on a cargo ship appears to have burnt out
The Loadstar, Aug. 2, Fremantle Highway blaze finally extinguished, say authorities
BBC News, Aug. 3, Fremantle Highway: Disaster averted as burnt car carrier reaches port
Dutch Coast Guard, July 26-Aug. 4, Live Blog Major fire aboard Fremantle Highway
Dutch Coast Guard, accessed Aug. 9, How did the fire aboard the Fremantle Highway start?
Dutch News, Aug. 3, Stricken cargo ship arrives in Eemshaven for salvage operation
Rijkswaterstaat, July 26-Aug. 4, Looking back freighter Fremantle Highway North Sea
“K” Line News Letter, Aug. 3, Fire incident on a vehicle carrier “Fremantle Highway”
Reuters, July 28, Focus: Ocean shippers playing catch up to electric vehicle fire risk
EV FireSafe, accessed Aug. 9, What we know (so far)
EV FireSafe, accessed Aug. 9, EV Fire FAQs
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cargo ship with electric cars moored, not sunk | Fact check