Catastrophic engine failure and fire on board ro-ro passenger ferry Wight Sky

Location: Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, England.

Accident Investigation Report 14/2018

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons learned, actions taken and recommendations:

MAIB investigation report 14-2018: Wight Sky

Damage to main engine on board Wight Sky


At 2133 on 12 September 2017, while approaching Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, the ro-ro passenger ferry Wight Sky suffered a catastrophic failure of one of its Volvo Penta D16 main propulsion engines, followed by a fire. The fire was brought under control in less than 2 minutes, but the vessel’s engineer, who had been standing near the engine, suffered serious burn injuries to his hands and face. Although he was discharged from hospital 7 days later, he was subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and had not returned to work at the time of publishing this report.

Safety lessons

  • rebuilding the engine and transporting it in parts to the engine room through an emergency escape rather than using the vessel’s deck opening, created the possibility of dirt ingress into the engine bearing lubricating channel

  • the engine was not fitted with a wear detector, so there was no means of receiving a warning before the engine failed

  • the essential services switchboard aft circuit breaker had been left in manual mode, resulting in the loss of power to critical equipment, including the fixed fire-fighting system


A recommendation has been made to Volvo Penta UK (2018/120), to consider offering wear particle detection technology for marine engines that cannot be easily serviced on board.

Published: 19 July 2018

Published 18 July 2018