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Health and safety

Seafarers flag safety fears in wake of Felicity Ace electric vehicle fire

10 August 2022

Seafarers have flagged concerns about the risk to life in the wake of an electric vehicle (EV) fire that sparked a 13-day blaze onboard the Felicity Ace, a roll-on roll-off cargo ship lost off the Azores in March with 4,000 vehicles onboard.  

Responding to a Nautilus Facebook post, one engineer officer raised concerns over the potential for the rapid spread of EV fires and explosions, which could put fire-fighters lives at risk. 

'It is difficult to contain a fire from one EV car spreading to another because [EVs] are stowed onboard with no more than 30 cm between them, and they most definitely couldn't be moved,' he said, further suggesting STCW training revisions will be required to deal with EV transport.

Insurer Allianz warned that the rising demand for EVs was an emerging risk for shipping fires on cargo ships as they are not designed to carry lithium batteries safely.

The Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology (DBI) recently conducted extensive testing into the detection and extinguishing of battery fires in electric cars on vehicle decks in ferries. Preliminary experiences and recommendations were published on its website

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is tasked with Maritime safety regulation, which is entered into domestic legislation by Member States once ratified. There was a sense in the online chat that regulators are playing catch-up with the car industry, which has 'shot ahead' in terms of technology.

Members interested in raising safety and other maritime technical issue are encouraged to attend the Union's Professional and Technical Forum on Monday 3 October 2022. 


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