By IW Apr 29, 2022

A catalogue of errors led to two ‘catastrophic’ Wightlink engine failures according to the full report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch released yesterday (Thursday).

The report criticises Wightlink, as well as other companies involved with its safe running: Volvo Penta AB; Lloyds Register and RK Marine Ltd.

The incidents took place on Wight Sky at Lymington Pier on August 26 and December 14, 2018, following a previous fire in September 2017 in which the vessel’s engineer suffered serious burn injuries to his hands and face.

Andrew Moll, Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, said: “This has been a long and complex investigation. Initially focussing on two catastrophic engine failures, the investigation found a history of engine failures across Wightlink’s fleet of Wight Class ferries dating back to 2010.

“Consequently, the scope of the investigation was broadened to include the forensic examination and testing of five failed engines and their components, a full review of the vessels’ propulsion system design and operation.

“We also examined the ferry operator’s safety management, planned maintenance and condition monitoring procedures, together with the technical oversight provided by the engine manufacturer and its approved service provider.

“The report contains recommendations aimed at improving the reliability of the propulsion machinery on board the Wight Class ferries, and reduce the likelihood of future catastrophic engine failures.”

The key safety issues identified were: Insufficient technical oversight of the engines’ operating parameters; Standards of maintenance management and quality control; Engine component and auxiliary system design problems; A lack of clear communication for engine maintenance and engine condition monitoring.

Its safety recommendations included: Wightlink: Ensure competent technical oversight of maintenance on board its vessels, through resourced procedures, so that technical issues are identified and escalated to senior management as necessary.

Volvo Penta AB: Identify all its affected D16 MH inboard shaft engine range customers to inform and resolve the identified oil filter bypass anomaly.

Lloyds Register: Assess the need to introduce within its rules and regulations the time taken to declutch a main propulsion engine from the drive shaft in the event of an emergency shutdown, to prevent the engine from being driven and increasing the risk of serious injury and damage.

RK Marine Ltd: Provide its customers with all manufacturers’ safety bulletins applicable to the engines in use.

A Wightlink spokesman welcomed the report and said: “Wightlink accepts all the recommendations made by the MAIB and has already implemented them. There have been no serious engine failures on its W-Class vessels since 2018. The ships operate a highly reliable service, with fewer than one in a hundred sailings cancelled for any reason.

“Wightlink is now working with Golden Arrow Marine, which operates authorised Volvo Penta Centres along the south coast. Wightlink thanks the MAIB for its thorough and detailed investigation, report and recommendations.”