Thirty Years since the Zeebrugge Disaster

O

Oscurito

During the mid-late 1980s, the UK seemed to go through a period of extraordinarily bad luck in terms of tragic disasters. From the Bradford City stadium fire in May 1985 to the Marchioness sinking in August 1989, it seemed as if every few months, the British were being hit by some calamitous incident involving the deaths of dozens, sometimes well over 100 people.

One of the most bizarre of these was the sinking of the ferry, The Herald of Free Enterprise within seconds of its leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in March 1987. The inquiry subsequently found that it was caused by the ship setting out to sea with its bowdoors open.

Although the immediate cause of the sinking was found to be negligence by the assistant boatswain, asleep in his cabin when he should have been closing the bow-door, the official inquiry placed more blame on his supervisors and a general culture of poor communication in Townsend Thoresen.

193 people drowned in the tragedy 30 years ago today on March 6th, 1987. May they rest in peace and may their families and friends find comfort.

Zeebrugge Herald of Free Enterprise disaster remembered - BBC News
 


ShoutingIsLeadership

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The luck was that this hadn't happened beforehand...particularly Bradford...that was not bad luck, it was criminal negligence
 

gatsbygirl20

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During the mid-late 1980s, the UK seemed to go through a period of extraordinarily bad luck in terms of tragic disasters. From the Bradford City stadium fire in May 1985 to the Marchioness sinking in August 1989, it seemed as if every few months, the British were being hit by some calamitous incident involving the deaths of dozens, sometimes well over 100 people.

One of the most bizarre of these was the sinking of the ferry, The Herald of Free Enterprise within seconds of its leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in March 1987. The inquiry subsequently found that it was caused by the ship setting out to sea with its bowdoors open.

Although the immediate cause of the sinking was found to be negligence by the assistant boatswain, asleep in his cabin when he should have been closing the bow-door, the official inquiry placed more blame on his supervisors and a general culture of poor communication in Townsend Thoresen.

193 people drowned in the tragedy 30 years ago today on March 6th, 1987. May they rest in peace and may their families and friends find comfort.

Zeebrugge Herald of Free Enterprise disaster remembered - BBC News


True. There seemed to be one horror after another in Britain at that time. And of course there was Thatcher .....

The eyewitness accounts of those who survived in that hellish accident make for awful reading--the strong clambering over the weak, the drowning passengers clinging for dear life to chairs or pieces of fallen debris....

The images and accounts of the tragedy haunted me...
 
O

Oscurito

True. There seemed to be one horror after another in Britain at that time. And of course there was Thatcher .....

The eyewitness accounts of those who survived in that hellish accident make for awful reading--the strong clambering over the weak, the drowning passengers clinging for dear life to chairs or pieces of fallen debris....

The images and accounts of the tragedy haunted me...
I remember reading about one Irish guy who rescued dozens of people.

He's from Wexford - a guy called Larry O'Brien.

Councillor recalls day he rescued 30 on stricken ferry - Independent.ie
 

Erudite Caveman

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Well, it all seemed to come to a grim fruition in the late 1980s.
And the skies above weren't much better... The Air India disaster with bodies piling up in Cork and then Lockerbie. Or just on the tarmac of Manchester airport. Rail wasn't much better with Clapham junction and the Kings Cross disaster, or Buttevant here.

The 80's were crazy days. Heads of states routinely being assassinated, the insane nuttery of the north (being celebrated in all its moronic glory on another thread), Stardust etc... It is a wonder anyone made it to the 90's alive.
 

gatsbygirl20

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I remember reading about one Irish guy who rescued dozens of people.

He's from Wexford - a guy called Larry O'Brien.

Councillor recalls day he rescued 30 on stricken ferry - Independent.ie



The ferry capsized totally, the floor becoming a wall, people sent crashing down through glass doors. The lights all failed , as people panicked in the darkness

The sea rushed in creating a cauldron of freezing water where the survivers watched their fellow passengers slowly drowning or dying of hypothermia ,as the water stopped rising when the ferry got lodged on a sandbank

The extensive loss of life made it one of the worst maritime accidents in peace time..

Roro ferry--roll on, roll off...The bow doors had been left open during another crossing of the same vessel. Casual attitude to safety......person responsible for closing the doors had fallen asleep
Zeebrugge ferry disaster: Survivor recalls his escape from horror that killed 193 people | UK | News | Express.co.uk
 

gatsbygirl20

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Have yiz any good news?
People made loadsa money in London in the Eighties as well. Thatcher was everywhere lecturing and patronising..starving the miners and fighting in the Falklands.. .most of the music was dire....

But the summer of 1983 was very hot so it wasn't all bad, I guess
 

silverharp

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The ferry capsized totally, the floor becoming a wall, people sent crashing down through glass doors. The lights all failed , as people panicked in the darkness

The sea rushed in creating a cauldron of freezing water where the survivers watched their fellow passengers slowly drowning or dying of hypothermia ,as the water stopped rising when the ferry got lodged on a sandbank

The extensive loss of life made it one of the worst maritime accidents in peace time..

Roro ferry--roll on, roll off...The bow doors had been left open during another crossing of the same vessel. Casual attitude to safety......person responsible for closing the doors had fallen asleep
Zeebrugge ferry disaster: Survivor recalls his escape from horror that killed 193 people | UK | News | Express.co.uk
he hadnt fallen asleep as in on the job he was asleep in his cabin. He had a supervisor that never checked if he was on duty. It was a case for corporate manslaughter, the bridge crew had requested that there be a signal on the bridge regarding the doors but were denied the request because there hadnt been any problems before ....
 

silverharp

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People made loadsa money in London in the Eighties as well. Thatcher was everywhere lecturing and patronising..starving the miners and fighting in the Falklands.. .most of the music was dire....

But the summer of 1983 was very hot so it wasn't all bad, I guess
what! the music in the 80's was brilliant, it kind of peaked by the mid 80's but it was a great decade for music
 

milipod

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[video=youtube;iIpfWORQWhU]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIpfWORQWhU[/video]
 

silverharp

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[video=youtube;pqmTMiIMG74]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqmTMiIMG74[/video]

[video=youtube;-w0WulIq4tw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w0WulIq4tw[/video]
 

igCorcaigh

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Herald of Disaster
Drama

6th March, 1987. Cross-channel ferry Herald of Free Enterprise left Zeebrugge for Dover with over 500 passengers and crew aboard. Within minutes, it capsized. Over 190 people lost their lives. Mixing evidence given at the subsequent inquest with the story of a fictional family of day trippers, Stephen Phelps' documentary drama asks whether this was a freak accident or a disaster waiting to happen


BBC Radio 4 - Drama, Herald of Disaster
 

fat finger

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And the skies above weren't much better... The Air India disaster with bodies piling up in Cork and then Lockerbie. Or just on the tarmac of Manchester airport. Rail wasn't much better with Clapham junction and the Kings Cross disaster, or Buttevant here.

The 80's were crazy days. Heads of states routinely being assassinated, the insane nuttery of the north (being celebrated in all its moronic glory on another thread), Stardust etc... It is a wonder anyone made it to the 90's alive.

Don't forget Piper Alpha as well - July 1988 - 167 men died, but the UK is very good at learning lessons and introduced huge changes to safety management offshore as a result
 

igCorcaigh

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Some other tragedies of 1987:

King's Cross fire
Enniskillen
Hungerford massacre
Great Storm
 
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Mad as Fish

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I seem to recall the sandbank being partially responsible for the capsize in that the shallow depth of water caused a cavitation and/or venturi effect that sucked the relatively flat bottomed vessel over.
 
O

Oscurito

Some other tragedies of 1987:

King's Cross fire
Enniskillen
Hungerford massacre
Great Storm
I'd totally forgotten about Hungerford. It was the first mass shooting I was aware of this side of the Atlantic,
 

fergal1790

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I remember a trip to France on the Spirit of Free Enterprise many years ago, a few months after it's sister ship overturned and sank in Zebrugge. the ship was awash with fresh vomit as the stabalizing ballast(which should have been moving side to side/front to back to counteract the waves) deep in the hull was malfunctioning and the car/lorry decks were off limits to passengers. several of the cars were damaged and a few lorries broke free of their chains and one overturned.

I have been on many ferries and other small boats to places like the Aran Islands and UK France etc and this was easily the worst journey ever.
 
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