The Dutch Coastguard said that all 23 crew were evacuated from the burning vessel by lifeboats and helicopter, but unfortunately one seafarer had died and several were injured.
The Fremantle Highway is a 2013-built, 59,525 gt, Japanese-owned vehicle carrier, in the fleet of Shoei Kisen Kaisha, and flagged with Panama, according to Equasis.
The Dutch Coastguard said the crew had attempted to extinguish the fire themselves but were unsuccessful. The evacuated crew were taken to Lauwersoog and Eelde airport and tended to by paramedics, it said.
Reuters reported that the vessel was carrying cars from Germany to Egypt, with 25 of them electric, quoting a coastguard spokesperson that the electric vehicle was suspected cause of the blaze.
The Dutch Coastguard said that the Fremantle Highway was still on fire and that a recovery vessel named Hunter had attached a line to the ship to hold it in a controlled position. A number of parties including salvage companies were studying how to limit the damage as much as possible.
There have been growing fears from insurers around electric vehicle fires onboard car carriers. Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE (AGCS) noted highly flammable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries pose a growing risk for container shipping and car carriers in its Safety & Shipping Review 2023. “Purpose-built vessels for transporting EVs would be advantageous,” said Captain Rahul Khanna, Global Head of Marine Risk Consulting at AGCS.