LISBON -- Rough waters have forced the authorities to postpone a salvage operation for a ship packed with luxury cars that has been on fire for a week in the Atlantic Ocean, a port official said.
With teams unable to board the Felicity Ace on Wednesday, heavy tug boats sprayed water to cool the vessel, which is carrying about 3,965 vehicles including Porsches, Audis, Bentleys and Lamborghinis.
The 22 crew members were evacuated last Wednesday, the day the fire began.
Some of the Volkswagen Group vehicles are electric and their lithium ion batteries have made the fire very difficult to extinguish, port officials have said.
Joao Mendes Cabecas, the captain of the nearest port on the Azorean island of Faial, has said that the blaze has lost its intensity, probably because there is little left to burn.
Salvage teams hoped to board the ship, which is adrift around 170 km (106 miles) southwest of the Portuguese islands of Azores, to assess its condition and start preparing it for towing, the navy said in a statement on Tuesday.
It is unclear if the vessel will be towed to the Bahamas or Europe.
Cabecas told Reuters that bad weather prevented the team from boarding the ship. Waves as high as 2.5 meters (eight feet) battered the coast of Faial on Wednesday, Portugal's weather agency IPMA said.
The salvage team was expected to be flown to the ship on a helicopter belonging to the Portuguese air force, which was to decide on Thursday if the operation can proceed, Cabeças said.
Ship manager Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd (MOL) said on Tuesday that the vessel was still on fire but stable, and that no oil leak had been reported so far. It did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the cause of the fire.
Insurance experts said the fire could result in losses of $155 million.