Salvagers on board burning ship for a new towing connection

Salvagers were on board the burning cargo ship Fremantle Highway on Friday afternoon to establish a secure towing connection, according to the Coast Guard, NOS reported. The ship is currently located 23 kilometers north of Terschelling.

The Fremantle Highway has been burning since the early hours of Wednesday morning. The ship, which carries thousands of cars, was en route to Egypt from Germany. The fire started when the ship was in the North Sea, some 30 kilometers north of Ameland. Emergency services evacuated the 23 crew members. One of them died.

Until Friday, there was only an emergency connection between tugboats and the cargo ship to keep it away from busy shipping lanes. “In the morning, after measurements by the salvagers, it was found that the temperature on board had significantly dropped. This decrease in temperature created a safer situation to go on board,” said a spokesperson for the Coast Guard. The smoke is also decreasing, according to the salvagers.

The new towing connection was established through the top of the ship. “This allows for better maneuvering and control of the ship,” the spokesperson explained.

The salvagers returned to the salvage vessels. It is not yet clear where the burning cargo ship will be towed. According to the Coast Guard, this decision lies with Rijkswaterstaat, which is responsible for the salvage. “Rijkswaterstaat is considering various scenarios to determine the next steps,” said the spokesperson.

If it were to be towed to the port of Rotterdam, it would take several days. Moreover, there is uncertainty whether the arrival of the cargo ship would be approved, said a spokesperson for the Rotterdam port to NOS.

On Friday, it was reported that there are not 25, but 498 electric cars on board the burning cargo ship. The ship has a total of 3,783 cars on board, all of them brand new. The increased number of electric cars could affect the emergency service’s plans to extinguish the massive fire on the cargo ship. Due to their battery packs, electric cars can burn for a long time and is complicated to extinguish.

Reporting by ANP and NL Times

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