Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster

Less than 30 minutes after leaving port, The Herald of Free Enterprise, jolts, tilts to portside then capsizes in the worst peacetime maritime accident since Titanic.

This episode profiles the worst peacetime maritime accident since the Titanic in 1912. At 6 p.m. on March 6, 1987, passenger ferry, The Herald of Free Enterprise, with approximately 459 passengers on board, sets sail from Zeebrugge in Belgium across the English Channel to the port town of Dover, Britain. It was an extremely cold yet calm night on the seas and apart from running five minutes late, everything appeared normal. But less than thirty minutes after leaving the port, The Herald jolts and tilts to portside. At first it is just thought to be rough seas, but moments later a more extreme jolt causes her to capsize. Within 90 seconds, the Herald turns on her port side and is resting on a sandbank, leaving hundreds of crew and passengers to battle their way out. 193 people lost their lives that night. What caused The Herald of Free Enterprise to capsize? Was it the crew's fault or design defect?

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