Herald of Free Enterprise anniversary


Hi,

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster when 200 people were killed when the Townsend Thoresen car ferry they wewre on capsized just outside of Zeebrugge Harbour in Belgium. The cause of the accident was found to be that the front loading doors of the ship had not been closed before it went to sea. I remember TV reports from the time describing it as the worst British sea disaster since the Titanic. It seems to be an under researched subject.

http://www.safetyline.wa.gov.au/institute/level1/course13/lecture40/l40_05.asp

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/england/newsid_1856000/1856771.stm

http://business.unisa.edu.au/cobar/corpresp/case_studies/study3.htm

Like the Titanic, the "Herald" had two nearly identical sister ships named the Spirit of Free Enterprise and the Pride of Free Enterprise.

http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/~johnson/image_map/ship/
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Today marks the 16th anniversary of the capsize of the British car ferry Herald Of Free Enterprise, as it was leaving Zeebrugge Harbour, Belgium, bound for Dover. Of the 546 people on board, 193 were killed.

There were people from all over Britain on board this ship - 7 came from Netherton where I grew up. Fortunately all survived.

Cheers,

Boz
 
T

Tom Pappas

Guest
Yeah - closing the bow doors seems like a fairly basic precaution. Rather like slowing down in known ice conditions.
 
Mar 28, 2002
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We sailed on her in June 1986, a class of 14 and 15-year olds running riot on a day-trip to France. Always remember it because it was my first ferry trip.

Cheers,

Boz
 
I sailed on her in July 1986, aged nine, between Dover and Calais. I remember playing the video arcade games on it. Like the Titanic, she had two near identical sister ships, the Pride of Free Enterprise and the Spirit of Free Enterprise.

some links:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2827229.stm

http://www.safetyline.wa.gov.au/institute/level1/course13/lecture40/l40_05.asp

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/england/newsid_1856000/1856771.stm

http://business.unisa.edu.au/cobar/corpresp/case_studies/study3.htm

http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/~johnson/image_map/ship/
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Let's try to make these links work.
wink.gif


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2827229.stm

http://www.safetyline.wa.gov.au/institute/level1/course13/lecture40/l40_05.asp

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/england/newsid_1856000/1856771.stm

http://business.unisa.edu.au/cobar/corpresp/case_studies/study3.htm

http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/~johnson/image_map/ship/
 
Apr 23, 2002
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I sailed on the Spirit of Free Enterprise on either the return or outward voyage and Herald.
I remember my mum not being impressed with the ship itself but praising the restaurant.
As I was only 4 I dont remember much except potted plants!
We have a cine film of the ship somewhere im pretty sure.
 

Steve Smith

Member
Dec 14, 1998
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Interesting postscript -

One of the UK Sunday papers last weekend reported research carried out among the Herald survivors. 43% of them felt the experience had actually had a positive effect on their lives.
 
This is a scary and unusual picture. The wreck of the Herald, renamed 'Flushing Range', at dock in Zeebrugge after salvage, scarred and ruined. Yet families and tourists; people in summery happy clothes are allowed to walk right up to it. Did this disfigured hulk of steel really carry 193 people to their deaths?

It would be interesting to find out why the wreck was renamed. I think Flushing is a place in Belgium. It'd be intriguing also to read the offical British Government enquiry report into the disaster. Having a ship go to sea with a huge gaping open hole at the point of its bow seems ludicrously irresponsible. Everyone must have thought someone else was going to close the loading doors.
59468.jpg
 
Mar 28, 2002
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That picture is certainly eerie. To me, all those people look like ghosts just walked off the Herald.

Reminds me of the scene in Ghostbusters when the Titanic finally arrives in New York with a big gaping hole and ghosts silently walking off.

Where on Earth did you find this picture, Stuart?

Cheers,

Boz
 

Steve Smith

Member
Dec 14, 1998
152
2
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Ghostly is right.

I can't remember the exact details, but I recall a story concerning either actual survivors or relatives of victims who'd gone on holiday to help them recover from the tragedy. They were strolling by the harbour where ever it was they the staying.. and were confronted by the wreck, which was on it's final journey to the breakers. I suppose it could have been the same place as in Stuart's photos. Certainly the last thing they wanted to see...
 
I got the pics from the website:
http://www.faktaomfartyg.crosswinds.net/herald_of_free_enterprise_1980.htm

I vividly remember the disaster being covered in the media at the time. The first I heard of it was turning on the TV on the morning after to find Saturday Superstore had been cancelled for a special edition of 'Breakfast Time' with Frank Bough to cover the breaking news. I remember thinking it was a blessing that more people had been rescued than were missing.

It coming a few months after I got interested in the Titanic for the first time, it held a fascination for me at age 9 and I followed the news up till the time it was refloated and towed back to Zeebrugge. The last I remember hearing was that it had broken loose enroute to Taiwan for scrapping. I wonder if it did make it to Taiwan or if it was just left adrift and allowed to sink?

I had become interested in the Titanic in the summer of 1986 after seeing the first colour footage taken by Robert Ballard on his second expedition and also hearing Walter Lord reading 'A Night to Remember' on Radio 4 just before 9am each morning during a week soon after I started Primary 5. Hearing him talking about people being on the sinking Titanic and doing things in their cabins made me relate the Titanic story to the time I and my folks had been on the Herald (or one of her sister ships) on our holiday to France earlier in the summer. I didn't realise at first it was a ship like the Herald we had been on; it was only looking at the photos my dad had taken aboard of me with the life ring marked "...Free Enterprise, Dover" in the background that it hit home. Unfortunately, I was standing in front of the first part of the name which would have identified which of the three Free Enterprises we were on. I think it more likely to be the Spirit of Free Enterprise as it was on the Dover-Calais run, while the Herald was the Zeebrugge-Dover run.
 
Hi Boz and others,

Peter Boyd-Smith kindly sold me a copy of the British Government report into the disaster. I could hardly put it down on my way home.

The immediate cause of the disaster was due to the assistant bosun, Mark Stanley, falling asleep in his cabin and not being awoken by the 'Harbour Stations' announcement on the tannoy which signals to the crew to go about their last minute duties before sailing. Stanley's duties included closing the loading doors which took approximately three minute to complete and often took place after the ship had begun moving out of port. A near disaster had already befallen the Herald's sister ship the Pride of Free Enterprise in 1983 when similarly, the assistant bosun had fallen asleep and not been awoken by the Harbour Stations announcement. On that occasion, the Pride had taken to sea with both her bow and stern doors open. Frustratingly though, the report does not say how disaster was avoided on that occasion.

However, the report says that both the Captain, David Lewry, and the Chief officer as well as Mark Stanley's immediate superior. It was found that they could have made sure that the doors were closed if they'd wanted to but didn't. The report also identified a "culture of slopiness" in the company's management which complacency and a lack of understanding of basic martime safety issues was rife.

The company's management continually ignored concerns raised by their captains; most notably about carrying excess passengers than was legally or safely permitted and having indicator lights about the status of the bow doors on the bridge. It details years of memos and other correspondence between the captains and management on those issues and management always thought it knew better despite the fact most of the company's directors had very little shipboard experience.

The BBC news have a very helpful website with archival news reports, the one with Triona Holden includes footage of the interior of the wreck with a flight of stairs sitting at a 90 degree angle! There's also an interview with a survivor.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/6/newsid_2515000/2515923.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/witness/march/6/newsid_2819000/2819429.stm

Stuart
 

Noel F. Jones

Member
May 14, 2002
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"I think Flushing is a place in Belgium."

'Flushing' is the anglicised rendition of Vlissingen, the erstwhile Dutch packet port at the mouth of the Scheldte. Vlissingen became superseded in this regard by Hoek van Holland (The Hook) on the Maas when the cross-channel service to Holland switched from the Thames to Harwich in the later 19th century.

As for the ship's renaming, distressed vessels are customarily renamed for voyages to the breakers, usually to reflect the necessary change of ownership and flag, sometimes to divert the opprobrium of their passing from their original operators. In this case the operators had other vessels in service reflecting their "....of Free Enterprise" fleet naming system.

Noel
 
C

Cassie Lougheed

Guest
I'm interested to see if anyone here has heard of the Enterprise Car Ferry disaster?

It happened on March 6th 1987. The ship capsized in the approaches to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge en route to Dover in England.

The tradgey happened due to one of the boat's door's being accidently left open.

One of my old infact school teacher lost her husband in this disaster. I was very young when it happened, barely four, but I remember the endless news reports. It was a very big thing and the inquiries went on for a long time.

For much more detailed information to anyone who may be interested, see this link: http://business.unisa.edu.au/cobar/corpresp/case_studies/study3.htm

Is there anyone here who knew somebody on the boat when it capsized or just anyone who, like me, has an interest for this particular sea tragedy?
 

Noel F. Jones

Member
May 14, 2002
857
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183
Cassie:

There is a thread here dedicated to The Herald Of Free Enterprise disaster. Just search through 'Topics' under 'Other Ships & Shipwrecks'. You will find useful links to detailed information.

Noel
 

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