I had a dream last night about being inside the wreck of the Herald of Free Enterprise after salvage. Being on the ship in childhood and memories of the telelvision footage of the interior of the wreck after the disaster probably came together to produce the vivid and disturbing scenes I saw in my mind's eye last night. I still have the wreck report in my bedside table drawer.
A year later, it's the 18th Anniversary. Next time I'm at my parent's I'll have to dig out the photo of my aged 9 on the deck of the Herald with the life ring attached to rail behind me and my brother.
Here's a photo just after the Herald was pulled upright:
Disturbing photos there...another ferry tragedy. Like the poor old Salem Express in the Red Sea, with her unlaunched lifeboats still sitting upright on the seafloor.
Be very interested to see that photo, Stuart. Liferings with the ship's name on them make great backdrops for photos - I've got quite a few of them myself - but they can assume a very different character in the wake of an accident.
March 6th 1987 On this day Me my wife & daughter where booked on The Herald of Free Enterprise.
As like so meny times before on the £1 day trips to france or Belgium, we where looking forward to the day in Belgium.
Put for some reason the booking office cocked the bookings up, & put us on a ferry to france.
We kicked up one hell of a fuss at the time,as we where looking forward to going to Zeebrugge.
But try as may, we could not get on the Herald of Free Enterprise so we ended up in france.
To this day we wonder what might have been if the booking office had not cocked it up.
But now to this day we are all glad that the booking office did.
It as not stopped us sailing on any of the ferry's.
2006 marks the 19th anniversary of the worst British peacetime maritime disaster since the Iolaire in 1919. Up and down the country survivors and loved ones and friends of the 546 people aboard must be going through some emotions today.
In 1987 I was nine years old but I still remember exactly where I was when I heard the news on that dark October night. My family and I were regulars on the Dover-Calais route for our holidays and these were almost always operated by one of the blue ribband spirit class vessels, namely the Spirit, Pride & Herald of free Enterprise. The news that one had capsized stunned me.
I have researched what happened and can confirm that the Herald or Flushing Range as she had been renamed in accordance with martime tradition was salvaged by SMIT (the same company who salvaged the Tricolor) who towed her back to Zeebrugge where the vehicles and bodies were taken ashore. She was then towed to Alang in India where she was broken up and sold for scrap.
What happened to the sisters? Well…….
Very quickly after the disaster P&O, owners of Townsend Thorsesen, understandably needed to rebrand to maintain customer confidence. To do this the Townsend Thoresen name and livery was dropped in favour of the now familiar Blue livery and P&O European ferries name. The naming convention was also changed to “Pride of……”.
By the end of 1987 the Spirit had been rebranded as “Pride Of Kent”. She stayed this way until after the merger with Stena line when in 1992 she was again renamed “P&OSL Kent”. Still not happy with this again they renamed her in 2002 to “PO Kent”. Eventually she was sold to GA Ferries in 2003 and given a new bow. She now operates as “Anthi Marina” between Pireaus, Rhodes & Kos in Grecce.
For the same reason the Pride was also rebranded in 1988 to “Pride of Bruges”. She continued to operate as this until 1999 when she was renamed “P&OSL Picardy”. P&O sold her in 2001 to Transeuropa ferries and to this day she operates between Ramsate and Ostend as “Oleandar”
My grandfather was a survivor of the herald, he was a foreign exchange banker. I have lots of knowledge and stories of that terrible night. I work on-board the Pride of Dover at present P&O ferries. Any questions?