March, 2023

This is a repeating event

202306MarAll DayHerald of Free Enterprise Capsize 1987MS Herald of Free Enterprise Bruges (BE)Industry:ShippingCountry:BelgiumLanguage:ENLoC:Operator error Origin: MAIB Incident:CapsizeHazards:Mechanical/Kinetic/PotentialImpact:HUMAN (On Site Fatalities)Effects:> 100 Fatalities


Flooding and capsize of ro-ro passenger ferry Herald of Free Enterprise with loss of 193 lives

On the 6th March 1987 the Roll on/Roll off passenger and freight ferry HERALD OF FREE ENTERPRISE (‘HERALD’) under the command of Captain David Lewry sailed from Number 12 berth in the inner harbour at Zeebrugge at 18.05 G.M.T. The HERALD was manned by a crew of 80 hands all told and was laden with 81 cars, 47 freight vehicles and three other vehicles.

Approximately 459 passengers had embarked for the voyage to Dover, which they expected to be completed without incident in the prevailing good weather. There was a light easterly breeze and very little sea or swell. The HERALD passed the outer mole at 18.24. She capsized about four minutes later. During the final moments the HERALD turned rapidly to starboard and was prevented from sinking totally by reason only that her port side took the ground in shallow water. The HERALD came to rest on a heading of 136° with her starboard side above the surface. Water rapidly filled the ship below the surface level with the result that not less than 150 passengers and 38 members of the crew lost their lives. Many others were injured.

Image Credit: Independent


MAIBUK Marine Accident Investigation Board