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»Fremantle Highway« in front of Rotterdam

Photo: Marco Hoope / dpa

Two months after the devastating fire on the Fremantle Highway, the car freighter arrived in the port of Rotterdam on Saturday. In the Dutch city, the ship is to be made sailable again if possible. The extent to which this will succeed is still unclear.

First, an inspection is to be carried out, then the ship is to be partially dismantled, as a spokesman for the maritime service company Koole Contractors explained. What is not damaged will be kept for possible reconstruction.

"The goal and appeal of this thing is to try to repair the damage, repair the rest and get the ship back on track," the spokesman explained. The work is expected to take four to five months. It is therefore not yet clear what will happen to the freighter after that.

A fire broke out on the Fremantle Highway on the night of July 26 not far from the North Sea island of Ameland. During the evacuation, one person was killed, the other 22 crew members suffered injuries.

The freighter had around 3800 cars on board. The upper part of the ship was heated so much during the fire that many vehicles merged with the deck. About 2700 cars were completely destroyed, according to experts. The ship itself, which belongs to a Japanese shipping company, was also badly damaged.

Experts also hope that a thorough inspection of the freighter will provide clues to the cause of the fire, which has not yet been clarified. Initially, the coast guard had suspected that an electric car could have been the starting point of the fire. However, there is no confirmation of this so far.

The freighter was picked up on Thursday from its temporary berth in Eemshaven, not far from the border with Lower Saxony, by three tugboats. The trip along the Dutch North Sea coast, which was watched by many onlookers, went smoothly, according to the spokesman.