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On This Day… The Herald Of Free Enterprise!

Written by: George Chittenden : 08 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 6th March, back in 1987 when a car and passenger ferry capsized moments after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, resulting in the deaths of 193 passengers and crew. The ship, Herald of Free Enterprise, was a roll-on/roll-off ferry owned by Townsend Thoresen.

Tragically, the ship left Zeebrugge with its bow-door still open and the sea immediately flooded the decks. The official inquiry discovered that the cause of the sinking was down to the Assistant Boatswain, who was asleep in his cabin and hadn’t closed the bow-door.

It also found that a poor level of communication existed throughout the entire company, a company that now trades as P&O Stena Line, and blame fell on the Boatswain’s supervisors too. The vessel was eventually salvaged and sold, before being taken to Taiwan where she was broken up.

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