(C) MAIB, Wight Sky.

Two Wightlink car ferry fires were caused by ‘assembly errors’, according to a Maritime Accident Investigation Branch report released today (Thursday).

The two ‘catastrophic engine failures’ happened during Wight Sky sailings in December 2018 and August 2018.

The MAIB’s initial investigation has revealed:

“Wight Sky’s newly built ME4 suffered a catastrophic failure after 380 running hours because of an assembly error during build in the Volvo Penta factory.

“Wight Light’s ME1 seized because of an assembly error during overhaul conducted by the local Volvo Penta dealer.”

(C) MAIB – Catastrophic failure of Wight Sky’s replacement ME2 on 26 August 2018.

The MAIB report added:

“Although direct causes have not been established for all five engines, the investigation has identified several underlying factors that might have contributed to this unusually high incidence of failures. These include the way the vessels and their engines are driven during entry to and departure from port; the setup of the engines’ auxiliary systems; the management of maintenance on board and ashore; quality control during engine assembly and overhaul.”

Investigators say they will continue to work closely with all the stakeholders involved “in order to progress the investigation as swiftly as possible and ensure appropriate action can be taken in order to further reduce the likelihood of similar accidents in the future”.

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield said:

“The investigation is complex and not yet complete however we have been able to ensure that the manufacturing and rebuild assembly errors are not present on any of our other Volvo Penta engines.

“We continue to work with the MAIB, Volvo Penta and other parties to establish root causes for all engine failures in 2017 and 2018.

“Wightlink has excellent engine reliability on all its other ships and routes and we are working hard to eliminate the problems we have had on our Lymington-Yarmouth route.”