A decision on whether to write off the car carrier involved in a week-long fire in the North Sea is still pending after an initial inspection indicated it could be saved.

The 6,210-ceu Fremantle Highway (built 2013) caught fire off the coast of the Netherlands on 27 July with 3,784 cars on board.

The incident claimed the life of one crew member.

The ship was towed to the port of Eemshaven in the Netherlands late last week after salvage companies and firefighters successfully extinguished the blaze.

An initial inspection at the port indicated that the lower decks — one to four — have been relatively undamaged, with many cars in that section fully intact.

The Fremantle Highway was carrying a cargo of mostly BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen cars — including a number of Rolls-Royce vehicles — from Germany to Asia.

The damage progressively worsens in the higher decks, with the worst affected being deck eight, where the fire is believed to have started.

But, most importantly, the engine room remains intact, which experts say could make it possible to save the ship.

Insurers and the vessel’s owner will now have to weigh up the cost of rebuilding the vessel against writing it off.

Hazardous waste

The insured value of the hull, which has a market value of about $78m, may not be the only consideration.

Dismantling the hull of the Fremantle Highway and its cargo will likely have to be carried out within Europe in line with international hazardous waste regulations, which could be costly for insurers.

The vessel is controlled by Japan’s Shoei Kisen through its shipowning subsidiaries of Luster Maritime and Higaki Sangyo. It was on charter to Japan’s K Line.

Salvage companies Smit and Multraship were hired on a Lloyd’s Open Form basis to handle the fire.

The ship is entered with the Japan P&I Club.