A release of carbon dioxide on Red Funnel’s Red Eagle happened because of inadequate maintenance, a report published today (Wednesday) says.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is calling for better guidance for the marine industry on the maintenance and inspection of CO2 fixed fire-extinguishing systems.

In a statement, Red Funnel said:

“Red Funnel welcomes this MAIB report and supports its conclusions and recommendations.

“As a precaution, all CO2 cylinder valves on Red Funnel’s Raptor class fleet were replaced following the incident in July 2017 and a more frequent inspection and servicing regime was introduced using specialist suppliers.”

The incident happened on 17 July 2017, according to a report published by the MAIB, as the car ferry sailed to Southampton from East Cowes.

Isle of Wight Radio reported at the time that the company was blaming “technical difficulties” for cancellations that led to five hour travel delays.

Gas leaked into the CO2 cylinder compartment, but was prevented from entering the engine room by the main distribution valve which remained closed.

No one was harmed, says the MAIB, but in similar incidents, the unintended release of CO2 from fire-extinguishing systems has caused 72 deaths and 145 injuries between 1975 and 2000.

Red Eagle’s owners have been asked to review the design of the CO2 fire-extinguishing systems fitted to their vessels, where the leakage of a single cylinder valve causes the entire system to discharge.