The West Wight service remains suspended this morning as investigations get underway into the cause of the incident, which saw over 120 people evacuated from the ship.
As first reported by Island Echo, emergency services were alerted to a fire in the engine room of ‘Wight Sky’ at around 18:52. More than 8 fire appliances, 2 Coastguard Rescue Teams and 3 ambulance crews rushed to the quayside at Yarmouth, where Yarmouth RNLI’s All Weather Lifeboat had escorted the ferry safely into the dock.
Shockingly, the incident comes less than 12 months after another engine room fire on the same ferry. A Maritime Accident Investigation Branch report earlier this year found that the way the engines were rebuilt allowed dirt ingress into the engine bearing lubricating channel.
All bookings made to and from the Island via Yarmouth have been transferred to Wightlink’s Fishbourne to Portsmouth Route, which is not only disruptive to those who have to divert, but is likely to cause delays for those already planning to travel via Fishbourne on one of the busiest days of the year.
Wightlink issued a statement last night which confirmed that 117 passengers and 10 crew members were onboard the ferry at the time of the incident, but the spokesperson refused to state that there was a fire on board – the alert has simply been referred to as a ‘technical issue’ which resulted in the fire suppression system being deployed.
Wightlink apologies for the inconvenience and advises all passengers to check their emails and Wightlink’s website for further information – although there appears to be little information available online.
It is unknown when the Yarmouth route will resume a normal operation.
UPDATE @ 09:03 – Wightlink have issued an updated statement this morning.
“Wightlink’s Lymington to Yarmouth route is suspended this morning following an engine fire on board the ferry Wight Sky. No-one was hurt.
“The company expects to resume services between Lymington and Yarmouth this afternoon with two ferries as usual (Wight Sun will be transferred from the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route).
“The incident happened about ten minutes after Wight Sky had left Yarmouth yesterday evening at 18:23 with 117 passengers, 10 crew members and 30 vehicles on board. No-one was injured. The ship’s engine room fire extinguishing system was deployed. Wight Sky returned to Yarmouth and arrived at 19:11. All passengers had left the ship by the side door by 19:15 and drivers returned on board to retrieve their vehicles from 20:15.
“The ship was met on arrival at Yarmouth by Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue who confirmed the fire was out. The incident has been notified to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Wightlink engineers will also carry out a full investigation.
“All customers were kept informed of the changes to the services yesterday evening and rebooked on alternative sailings.
“Wightlink’s Portsmouth-Fishbourne car ferries and Portsmouth Harbour-Ryde Pier FastCats are running normally”.
UPDATE @ 12:52 – Wightlink’s Yarmouth to Lymington service is now operational once again.
A spokesperson for the cross-Solent ferry operator has said:
“Wightlink’s Lymington to Yarmouth route is operational again following an earlier suspension.
“Services resumed again this morning with the 11:00 Lymington to Yarmouth sailing of the Wight Light ferry. Its sister ship Wight Sun is being transferred from the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route and a normal two-boat service will operate from 13:00”.