Deadly physics: The “Herald of Free Enterprise” ferry disaster of 1987.

herald of free enterprise by archief ranter

Twenty-nine years ago today, on March 6, 1987, a terrible and completely preventable tragedy occurred in the North Sea, just off the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. At about 6:00 that evening a car ferry called the Herald of Free Enterprise, owned and operated by Townsend Thoresen Company, left the dock at Zeebrugge with 459 passengers on board, their cars and a number of cargo trucks. She was headed for Dover, on the coast of England. Many of the passengers had been tempted by a recent advertisement in the British newspapers offering super-cheap trips to the continent and back. Unbeknownst to them, 193 of them had taken their last step on dry land. Minutes after leaving port the Herald of Free Enterprise took on water and capsized, and for an abysmally stupid and outrageous reason: a crew member neglected to close the huge doors at the front of the ship…

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