Friday, July 28, 2023

Those Are Some Fancy Cars That Are Burning

No, not the French arson/riots. Those were the vehicles of everyday people, many old enough that the owners didn't even have full coverage insurance policies any more. No, these are the cars burning off the coast of The Netherlands:

1,117 Porsches, 189 Bentleys, 85 Lamborghinis 

From Asia Times, July 27:

Tanks and ship-borne cars: Fire can wipe out both
In the Yom Kippur War, tanks, but in the lithium battery age it’s 1,117 Porsches, 189 Bentleys, 85 Lamborghinis 

In the Yom Kippur war in 1973, the last big armor battles before Ukraine, Israeli tanks encountered two enemies.

 One was the new weapon Egypt used to destroy tanks, a wire-guided ground launched missile called the AT-3 Sagger (previously the 9M14 Malyuta). It was the first man-portable guided anti-tank missile. It was set up on the battlefield so the shooter was separated by some yards from the launcher, giving the shooter a better chance of survival against counter-fire.  

The Sagger was teamed up with the RPG-7. a rocket propelled grenade with a shaped-charge warhead.  The RPG-7 was carried by an individual foot soldier who had to get close to the target he was trying to destroy, making the RPG-7 operator vulnerable once he was discovered.

These two weapons did a lot of damage to Israeli tanks. At that time the Israeli tank force was made up of US M-60 and M48 tanks, British Centurions, and T-55 Russian tanks that had been captured in 1967 and refurbished and modernized by Israel’s tank shop located south of Tel Aviv. Israel lost over 1,000 tanks, either destroyed or damaged.

The other enemy was the one tank with the worst reputation in the 1973 War: the US M-60 Patton tank. Many M-60’s mysteriously caught fire and burned, often incinerating tank crews in the process. At first it was thought the fires were caused by enemy fire and shrapnel, but when tanks started going up in flames where there was no immediate enemy activity, the Israelis began looking for the cause.

Israeli technicians discovered that as the tank operated in a hot, dry, desert environment, like that in the Sinai, significant amounts of sand accumulated inside the tank. At the same time, a lot of oil and other lubricants leaked onto the tank’s floorboards and accumulated in gaps in the tank chassis.

When the leaked oil mixed with the sand and got wedged in between the tank hull and the fuel tank, the sand-oil mixture and metals formed a sort of battery. In the heat and when sparks inside the tank were leaping around as the tank moved along the combat line, the “battery” could set off leaked oil and fuel that reached the fuel tank, causing a major fire.

Just after the war the Israelis found a solution: coating the fuel tank with insulating foam so that the battery-like fires could not happen. That brilliant solution was passed on to the Pentagon. The US Army was not interested, mostly because the US expected to fight a war in Europe where there wasn’t any sand and where the weather tended to be much cooler and with more moisture than in the Middle East. On the other hand even back then there was no guarantee that the US would fight only in Europe, and it sold its tanks to many foreign customers.

Late this month a Dutch container ship, the Fremantle Highway, caught fire off the coast of the Netherlands, in full view of the shore. The 18,500 ton ship was carrying 3,000 cars from Germany to Egypt. At least 25 of the cars on board were electric.  At least one of the electric cars caught fire and started a blaze that, at the time I was preparing this article, was consuming the ship....


The latest figures on the number of EV's is much higher. From the Japanese car carrier via TradeWinds, July 28:

K Line reveals close to 500 electric vehicles on fire-ravaged car carrier Fremantle Highway
The number of electric cars is higher than first thought and could explain the North Sea casualty

HT on the update: ZH  

Porsche in particular seems to rack-up the insurance claims when being shipped. From a 2019 post:

When the "Grande America" Sank On March 12 It Took Some Very Valuable Automobiles to the Bottom

Or maybe it's just a behavioral bias in noticing the big numbers.