The incident has occurred whilst crossing the Solent, just short of the entrance to Lymington River.
‘Wight Sky’ is currently being escorted into Yarmouth by Yarmouth RNLI’s All Weather Lifeboat.
It was almost a year ago that there was a fire on the same vessel.
Tracking of the ferry appears to show Wight Sky departed Yarmouth as normal and made it a significant way across the Solent before making an about turn and returning to port at Yarmouth.
UPDATE @ 19:43 – 5 pumping appliances (from Newport, Freshwater, Yarmouth, Cowes and East Cowes), an aerial ladder platform from Newport and the rescue tender from Newport are all on scene at the quayside in Yarmouth.
Island Echo understands a fire has broke out in the engine room of the cross-Solent ferry.
Coastguard Rescue Teams from The Needles and Ventnor are also attending the maritime incident alongside the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service, who have 2 ambulances and an officer on scene.
Yarmouth Lifeboat has now returned to its mooring having safely escorted the ferry into dock.
It is evident that a number of vehicles remain on the car deck onboard Wight Sky.
UPDATE @ 20:13 – Wightlink have confirmed that their Yarmouth to Lymington service is suspended tonight due to a ‘technical issue’. All passengers and vehicles are being directed to the Fishbourne to Portsmouth route instead.
Staff are now preparing to unload vehicles that remain on the ferry on both the main and mezzanine decks.
UPDATE @ 20:55 – Almost 30 firefighters are attending the incident, 14 of which have been committed on board Wight Sky.
It’s thought that the engine room has been isolated and the fire suppressed by means of an automatic system. Fire crews are now preparing to open the access hatch to the engine compartment to assess the damage and tackle any remaining hotspots.
No one has been injured as a result of the fire and all passengers and staff have been accounted for.
UPDATE @ 21:47 – Wightlink have tonight issued a statement.
A spokesperson for the company has said:
“The Wightlink ferry Wight Sky has been taken out of service this evening because of a technical problem on board the vessel. The ship’s engine room fire extinguishing system was deployed.
“It was the 18:20 sailing from Yarmouth with 117 passengers, 10 crew members and 30 vehicles on board. It returned safely to Yarmouth.
“No-one was hurt in the incident. All passengers disembarked in the usual way at Yarmouth and their vehicles have been unloaded. A fire engine and ambulance met Wight Sky on its return to Yarmouth and fire officers have been on board the vessel.
”Wightlink engineers will carry out a full investigation. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been notified.
”This evening’s remaining services on that route were cancelled and customers have been re-scheduled on other sailings.
“There will be some disruption to customers booked on the Lymington-Yarmouth route on Monday morning”.
Wightlink apologies for the inconvenience this may cause passengers and advises them to check their emails and Wightlink’s website for further information.
UPDATE @ 23:18 – The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service and other emergency personnel are now standing down from the incident.
It has been confirmed that 6 firefighters wearing breathing apparatus gear and armed with 2 hose reels entered the engine room. Positive Pressure Ventilation has been used to rid toxic smoke from the compartments.
The Maritime Accident Investigation Branch are expected to open an investigation into the incident in due course having been made aware of this evening’s fire.
Wight Sky will now have to undergo repairs and a Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) inspection before it can be used in service again. The MCA have confirmed that the duty surveyor has been made alerted.