Ferry firm Wightlink loses £1.4m damages claim

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FERRY operator Wightlink has suffered defeat in a £1.4m damages claim after ‘catastrophic’ engine failures struck two of its Fastcat fleet.

The firm launched High Court action after an engine in its Shanklin vessel failed in the Solent, between Ryde and Portsmouth, in July 2006, followed by an engine of the Ryde Fastcat in November the same year. The ships’ four diesel engines were sent back to their German manufacturers for costly repairs.

Wightlink claimed that, on disassembly, it was clear that they had not been properly overhauled and, in particular, that the clearance between piston pins and piston pin brushes in each of the engines’ 16 cylinders did not accord with manufacturers’ requirements.

Wightlink sought almost £1.4m damages from the company contracted to overhaul the engines – Michell Power Systems (MPS). But Mr Justice Hamblen dismissed Wightlink’s claim after clearing MPS of all liability for the ferry company’s losses. The judge said MPS ‘should have had regard’ to the recommended clearances between the piston pins and piston pin brushes and ‘should not have departed from those recommendations without some reason’.

But he said: ‘I am satisfied there were good reasons to do so in this case.’