blog home Product Liability The Ameland Cargo Ship Rescue: A Predictable Catastrophe

The Ameland Cargo Ship Rescue: A Predictable Catastrophe

By Dallas Personal Injury Attorney on August 30, 2023

In July 2023, a large cargo ship loaded with nearly 3,000 vehicles caught fire off the coast of the Dutch Island of Ameland. Seven crew members leaped 100 feet into the sea to escape the blaze. The catastrophe left one sailor dead and 22 others injured. The Coast Guard reported that the fire could continue for days. Although the sides of the ship were doused with water, rescue workers were afraid of causing the ship to become unstable and sink if too much water was used to extinguish the blaze.

The cargo ship left the port of Bremerhaven in Germany on a course for Port Said in Egypt at approximately 15:00 (3:00 p.m.) on Tuesday, July 25, and ran into trouble overnight at approximately 17 miles north of Ameland in the Wadden Sea. The crew tried to douse the flames but were ultimately overwhelmed and forced to flee. Desperate sailors jumped into the water to escape the flames, one by one, and had to be rescued from the sea.

Of the 23 crew members on board when the fire broke out, 22 were treated for breathing issues, broken bones, and burns. The Indian Embassy in the Netherlands reported that the sailor who was killed was Indian.

Although the Coast Guard stated that the cause of the fire was unknown, an emergency call between rescue services indicated that it started in an electric car’s battery. Approximately 25 of the vehicles being transported on the ship were electric.

A tugboat pulled the ship out of major shipping routes to and from Germany. Emergency crews’ challenge at the scene was extinguishing the fire while keeping the cargo ship afloat. While salvage boats circled the ship, an oil-recovery vessel was sent to the location in case of a leak. Air traffic officials kept planes from flying near the ship.

How Dangerous Are Electric Car Fires and Why?

Electric cars need batteries capable of storing tremendous amounts of energy in relatively small spaces to operate. These batteries contain chemicals that are highly flammable and may catch fire if the battery gets too hot, is not functioning properly, or is physically damaged. When the heat generated by an electric vehicle battery exceeds the heat dissipating, it can result in an electric vehicle battery fire.

This situation, known as a thermal runaway, can trigger a fire that is hard to contain and requires much more water than other fires to extinguish. While it may take approximately 300 gallons of water to extinguish other vehicle fires, 25,000 gallons or more may be needed to put out an electric vehicle fire.

Who Is at Risk From Electric Vehicle Battery Fires?

The incident of the Ameland cargo ship rescue opens our eyes to the risk for transportation vessels specifically, but who else may be endangered by electric vehicle batteries? The list includes electric vehicle drivers and passengers, first responders, and occupants of buildings where electric vehicles are parked or charging. For example, a California couple’s Tesla caught fire in their garage while charging overnight. The fire spread to the other Tesla next to it, caused a massive house fire while the husband and wife slept in their bed, and burned their garage to the ground.

​​Contact The Lenahan Law Firm: We’re Here to Fight for You

If you have suffered severe injuries in an electric car fire, you can count on The Lenahan Law Firm to provide the trusted legal support and guidance you need. Founding attorney Marc Lenahan is a nationally respected personal injury and wrongful death lawyer with a history of success for our clients.

Our Dallas personal injury attorneys are committed to providing a tailored assessment of each case to pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. We stand ready to assist you in facing legal challenges related to recovering from an electric car fire. You can count on us to fight tirelessly for the justice you deserve.

Call (214) 295-1008 to schedule a free consultation today.

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