Recent fire incidents aboard electric vehicle (EV) carrying vessels have brought attention to factors such as thermal runaway, saltwater intrusion, and compromised battery cells or components. Industry stakeholders, insurers, and safety experts have underscored the need for vigilance. Höegh Autoliners outlined the measures it is taking to minimise the risks.
“Together with a clear decarbonisation target, safety is our top priority both on our existing fleet and when designing our new Aurora-class vessels. Fire safety has been a focus area and part of the design work from day one,” said chief operating officer of Höegh Autoliners, Sebjørn Dahl.
To improve fire detection and the ability to handle a possible fire the carrier has, Höegh Autoliners has implemented an extended number of fire zones, and installed heat and smoke detecting cameras and fire blanket stations on all cargo decks, among other measures. It said that it also has more than the class required amount of CO2, which serves as a highly efficient fire extinguisher, onboard its vessels. “We’ve also improved the onboard digital platform. This enables us to include early warning if any loaded unit would send out notification of anomalies such as elevated battery temperatures,” said Dahl.
The carrier said it is not transporting second-hand EVs as they may represent a higher risk.
Prior to loading, it has a number of fire risk management procedures, based on the fact that
high-voltage batteries in electronic and hybrid cars are charged ideally below 30 percent and not above 50 percent, limiting the energy density on the vessel’s deck and thereby reducing the potential severity of fires.
Höegh added that its crew undergo regular refresher training on fire safety and firefighting techniques, and complete regular drills. In cooperation with local training centres, it is focusing on hands-on fire-fighting techniques as well as safety procedures for high temperature fires.