“The merchant vessel Felicity Ace has sunk 25 nautical miles (46 km) from the Portuguese exclusive economic zone,” the navy said in a statement.
The ship, which “lost its stability” during the towing operation that began on February 24, sank in an area about 3,000 meters deep.
The Panama-flagged ship Felicity Ice found itself adrift for a few days off the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores after a fire broke out on board on February 16.
The ship, which had left Germany and was due to rejoin the United States, was 90 nautical miles (about 170 kilometers) southwest of Faial Island when the alert was issued.
22 crew members were quickly rescued. They were initially evacuated on an oil tanker, which was immediately diverted to participate in rescue operations, before being transported to Faial Island by military helicopter.
In the days that followed, fires continued to spread aboard this nearly 200-meter-long ship. And lithium batteries were the cause of the disaster, according to several media outlets, but the information was not confirmed.
Volkswagen said the ship was carrying “approximately 4,000 cars from several group brands, including 1,100 Porsche”.
The fire could generate “expected losses of at least $155 million for Volkswagen,” the Russell Corporation estimated last week.
At the sinking site, it is possible to see “wrecks and oily residues” being monitored, the Portuguese navy said, adding that navy divers, specially equipped with pollution control barriers, had to go to the scene.
A military aircraft should also monitor the development of the situation.