Executives from salvage companies have poured water on speculation an EV started the fire aboard the car carrier Fremantle Highway.

The Panama flagged car and truck carrier chartered by K Line was en route to Singapore from Bremerhaven in Germany when it caught fire on 25 July.

According to maritime-executive.com, the salvage specialists have questioned speculation that the fire began with one of the electric cars. They noted that a large number of EVs were intact on the lower decks and the speed at which the fire subsided and was put out was inconsistent with EV battery fires.

Another media report said there were 498 EVs on board but between 900 and 1,000 cars, including the EVs, appeared to be in good condition. 

The fire probably started in the eighth deck of the 12 deck ship as that was where the worst damage was, a salvage executive told Bloomberg. 

But he fanned flames by saying “all experts with any knowledge on this topic agree that the transportation of electric vehicles introduces additional risks”.

The salvagers said they would not be providing details but that insurance experts would rule on the cause of the fire.

The maritime industry website said the ship was being stabilised at a pier in Eemshaven (a Netherlands Ministry of Defence facility).

Salvage teams and investigators were working to develop plans and unravel the origins of the fire. Some of the ship is still in good order, such as the engine room, and a fresh crew had been flown out from Japan to run systems.

Executives from Boskalis told media they believed leaked photos were taken possibly by an insurance adjuster or possibly an inspector working for the vessel’s owner. The photos showed some of the extent of the damage inside the vessel, warping to the decks, and burnt out car frames. Some of the cars are recognisably Mini models. Splash247.com said the cars shown were Porsche 911s and Cayennes and five-door Mini Clubmans.

The photos were also posted to social media by a German politician as part of a campaign to increase the safety regulations for the shipment of electric vehicles. Andreas Mrosek in his posting speculated on the dangers and pointed out the problems if there was a fire aboard a car ferry and the challenge of evacuating 200 passengers. He joined with others in Germany and the German media which had been leading calls for stricter regulations on the shipment of EVs.

Executives said sections of the ship are very badly damaged with the decks having become unstable. In places the fire was so hot they said the car frames fused to the deck.

But, elsewhere on the lower decks, the cars appear to be undamaged but during the interview, Boskalis emphasized there was no decision to offload any cars. They said temperatures still raised the concern of another fire starting if they attempted to remove any of the cars, maritime-executive.com said.