Fire aboard Pont-Aven. One engine needs intensive repairs

At 4 am on 29th April, a fire occurred in the port engine room of Pont-Aven whilst on passage to Santander, 142 km off the coast of France. Although extinguished within 40 minutes by the crew, the fire left one of the engine severely damaged.

Pont-Aven seen on an arrival in Saint-Malo at the early morning.
On 29th April, one of Pont-Aven four main engines suffered from a fire which has irremediably left this engine out of service.

Following the fire, the Préfecture Maritime of Brest decided to send firemen and the salvage tug Abeille Bourbon to Pont-Aven in order to assist her. The fire was however extinguised before their arrival, thanks to the training given to Brittany Ferries' crew in its Saint-Malo facilities. Pont-Aven was then able to be rerouted to Brest, when she arrived on her own steam at 3 pm CEST on Monday 29th April, enabling her 766 passengers to disembark and continue their route either to Spain or back to England.


Nobody was injured during the incident, although passengers were required to equip themselves with lifejackets and emergency alarms were rung.


Upon the arrival in Brest, technicians of Damen shipyard boarded the ship to asses the damages. It is believed from now on than one of the two port main engines - on which the fire occurred - is  out of service and will need the replacement of major parts. Further assessments are however required to identify the precise cause of the incident.

Quiberon photographed in her first livery.
Quiberon suffered from a similar incident back in 1992. Photographer unknown.

Brittany Ferries is therefore expected to take in the coming hours the decision either to proceed to an immediate replacement of some important parts of the engine - meaning Pont-Aven would be taken out of service for most part of the summer - or to make sure the ship can lastingly be operated on three engines throughout summer, although on an altered schedule.


From now, Pont-Aven’s crossings have been cancelled until Sunday, with Armorique taking over this week end France - Ireland service on an altered schedule. Her arrival in Ringaskiddy is expected on 8 pm brittish time on Saturday. This will be her first ever commercial stopover at Ringaskiddy, 10 years after she first visited the harbour on the purpose of visiting the harbour.


On 17th July 1992, a similar incident occurred aboard Quiberon when she sent a May Day signal with 1,034 passengers aboard. Although the crew extinguished the fire on its own before the arrival of coastguards, Quiberon had to be towed back to Roscoff and remained out of service until late-August. One crew was killed during the fire with seven others being injured. More recently, a fire took on one of Bretagne's generators on 1st November 2015, however she was able to cast off only one hour late with limited consequences.


NB : The operation of Pont-Aven on three engines wouldn’t affect passengers’ safety, as ferries are often operated with one or two switched-off engines on the purpose of making fuel savings when these engines are not required.