Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Wightlink ferry speed restrictions introduced after fires

Wight Sky Image copyright MAIB
Image caption A fire broke out on the vehicle ferry Wight Sky while it was berthed in Lymington

A cross-Solent ferry operator has introduced speed reductions and cut crossings in high winds following the third onboard fire in 16 months.

Fire broke out in an engine room on Wightlink's Wight Sky on Friday. There were also fires in August 2018 and September 2017.

The company said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) approved "revised operating procedures".

It said it would mean "more cancellations and disruption".

Brand new engine

A fire broke out on the Lymington-Yarmouth ferry when it was berthed in Lymington early on Friday morning. It was extinguished and all passengers and crew were safely taken off the ferry.

Wightlink said the ship's Volvo Penta engine was brand new and had only been operational for 390 hours when it failed.

A statement said it was working with Volvo engineers to "find the root cause and a permanent solution".

It said new operating procedures had been agreed with the MCA as a result of the latest fire.

"Engine speeds have been reduced and ships will not sail if winds are higher than 20 knots constant or gusting at 25 knots"

"Wightlink apologises as this will result in more cancellations and disruption for customers during high winds but safety must take priority."

Image copyright MAIB
Image caption The "most probable trigger" for the engine fire in 2017 was deemed to be debris in its oil channels

In August, 117 people were evacuated from the vessel when a fire broke out and the main engine failed shortly after Wight Sky set sail from Yarmouth towards Lymington. An investigation by the MAIB into that fire is currently under way.

In September 2017 fire, an engineer who had been in the engine room at the time, was treated for burns to his hands and face and remained in hospital for a week. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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