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Q: herald of free enterprise ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: herald of free enterprise
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: franco1981-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 06 Oct 2005 07:23 PDT
Expires: 05 Nov 2005 06:23 PST
Question ID: 577119
The sinking of "the herald of free enterprise" . I need to know
details on how and why it sank and the human errors. Also the
consequences of the accident for the idustry
Subject: Re: herald of free enterprise
Answered By: omnivorous-ga on 06 Oct 2005 08:41 PDT
Franco1981 ?

Wikipedia has a good, succinct summary of the sinking of the car ferry
in March, 1987.  The sinking killed 193 people --

?M/S Herald of Free Enterprise?

In the case of ships sinking in the U.S. or U.K., maritime inquiries
are held.  Lord Justice Sir Barry Sheen produced the report in the
case of this accident.  Though the inquiry itself doesn?t seem to be
easily accessible via the web, there are many analyses of it ? from
the safety conclusions to the way images were presented in the

In his July 24, 1987 report, Sheen said, ?Townsend Car Ferries, Ltd.
are at fault at all levels, from the board of directors down to the
junior superintendents.  From top to bottom, the body corporate was
affected with the disease of sloppiness.?

Good summary of impact & what happened from SafetyLine Institute, an
Australian government labor agency.  They note that roll-on, roll-off
car ferries used across the world are inherently unstable because even
small amounts of water entering the decks make them capable of

In the case of the Herald of Free Enterprise, SafetyLine notes that
these were the direct human errors made in the sinking:

?The assistant bosun, who was directly responsible for closing the
doors, was asleep in his cabin, having just been relieved from
maintenance and cleaning duties.

?The bosun noticed that the bow doors were still open, but did not
close them as he did not see that as part of his duties.

?It seems that the captain was to assume that the doors were safely
closed unless told otherwise, but it was nobody's particular duty to
tell him. The written procedures were unclear.

?The chief officer, responsible for ensuring door closure, testified
that he thought he saw the assistant bosun going to close the door.
The chief officer was also required to be on the bridge 15 minutes
before sailing time.?

SafetyLine Institute
?Herald of Free Enterprise Sinking? (Dec. 30, 1997)

But there were other errors too ? in corporate management rejecting
information displays that captains had recommended to prevent this
type of accident and in management of ballast.

SafetyLine reports the following impact on the industry:

?In April 1997 new international maritime safety regulations were
agreed. The regulations target the latent design errors and are
intended to ensure that a roll-on, roll-off ship can maintain
stability with the car deck flooded to a depth of 50.8 cm (20 inches).
This will involve installing internal partitions (bulkheads) or
additional flotation devices within the hull. The aim is to prevent
disasters such as the Herald of Free Enterprise and more recently the
Estonia, in which nearly 1,000 passengers were killed, by making the
ships safe enough for the orderly evacuation of hundreds of
passengers. Standard cruise ships are expected to stay afloat for at
least half an hour after being irreparably holed.?


Other resources are available using a variety of Google search
strategies, outlined below:

Herald of Free Enterprise sinking
?Herald of Free Enterprise? inquiry
?Herald of Free Enterprise? Sheen report
?crew resource management?

For example, there?s a detailed picture of the car ferry taken from
the Sheen report:

?Herald of Free Enterprise?

On a larger level, the accident was another that emphasized ?team
management? in safety & accident situations, a point made by Prof.
Chengi Kuo in this paper:  Similar ?team management? concepts have
evolved outside the shipping industry.  For example, in aviation
American airlines, the military and the FAA  has advanced ?crew
resource management? techniques to accomplish the same thing --

National Marine Safety Commission of Australia
?Managing Ship Safety Beyond 2000,? (Kuo, Feb. 1, 2000)

Federal Aviation Administration

Best regards,


Request for Answer Clarification by franco1981-ga on 07 Oct 2005 12:40 PDT
Please could you clarify and expand on the consequences of the sinking
of the "hearld of free enterprise" in terms of legal changes and
consequences for ferry operTORS/ COPERATE RESPONSIBILITY

Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 07 Oct 2005 15:04 PDT
Franco1981 --

Right from the start, at trials after the sinking, issues of corporate
responsibility were present.  The BBC's Chris Morris starts his report
on the linked web page by saying, "The legal argument has always been
whether individuals or the company was to blame"

?1987: Zeebrugge disaster was no accident?

Indeed, the British government tried to prosecute the corporation,
Townsend-Thoresen, charging the successor  (P&O European Ferries) 
?with corporate manslaughter in 1989 and seven employees with
manslaughter.   The case collapsed but it set a precedent for
corporate manslaughter being legally admissible in an English court,?
says the BBC.

?1987: Zeebrugge disaster was no accident?

That precedent ? to allow corporate manslaughter -- is probably the
most important change.  It?s impact is still being debated, in
Parliament and elsewhere.  Here, the Minister of State, Charles Clarke
says, ?The Government are consulting on changing the law. I have been
involved in many discussions with company directors about such matters
and it is fair to say that most companies recognise that the law needs
to be changed, but it is difficult to formulate it to make it possible
to bring prosecutions.?

U.K. Parliament
House of Commons Standing Committee A (Jan. 23, 2001)

This excellent article, which unfortunately is undated, discusses how
changes in law have been proposed within the U.K. to deal with
corporate responsibility.  Basnett's article seems to date from some
time in 2002 or after:

Fleet Support Group
?Corporate Killing: The Law in a Nutshell,? (Solicitor Basnett, undated)

Discussions of corporate manslaughter bills continue in the U.K. to
this day, with the introduction of a bill this year:
?Corporate Manslaughter Bill? (Leckie, April 8, 2005)


Another one of the issues that surfaced with the sinking of the Herald
is shown in the various victim counts that you?ll see in news stories
(you?ll find Internet reports citing the number of deaths as low as
135 and as high as 193).  As a result, the European Union passed
legislation putting specific requirements on commercial vessels?
passenger lists:

European Union
?Maritime safety: registration of persons on board passenger ships? (Feb. 28, 2001)

There?s really quite a bit of debate on legal changes under either of
the following Google searches:
?herald of free enterprise? legal
?herald of free enterprise? prosecution

Best regards,

Subject: Re: herald of free enterprise
From: kemlo-ga on 06 Oct 2005 14:56 PDT
It has been suggested in a recent television documentry  that the act
of running the ship aground actually caused the capsize.  If it had
stayed in deep water after slowing down it would not have capsized
As it ran aground whilst heeled the center of gravity changed.
Subject: Re: herald of free enterprise
From: answerfinder-ga on 07 Oct 2005 02:03 PDT
You can purchase a copy of the report at the TSO web site.

mv Herald of Free Enterprise report of Court no. 8074 :
Merchant Shipping Act 1894 formal investigations Department of Transport
Price: 10.50 	ISBN: 0115508287

Subject: Re: herald of free enterprise
From: dick_hartog-ga on 11 Nov 2005 08:22 PST
The ship was never runned agroud  on purpose. The capsize was the
synergetic result of following events that worked together
The bow is relative small. It is sealed normally bij a set of
butterfly doors. They stood open.
About 10 meters (30 yards) inward from the butterfly doors is a set of
collision doors, hung vertically on both sides of the ships hull,
which formed a ventury type passage. These collision doors stood open
on the moment the ship capsized.
The ship slopes down till the middel and up from there toward the stirn doors.
The width increases toward the midschips and decreases toward the stirn.
The ship sailed at full power. Meaning 24.000 horse power pressing the
ship forward. While gaining speed its bow wave increased, finally
above the level of its car deck. Water entered the bow, passed the
funnel of the collision doors, thus generating a fast growing
resistance in the funnel, expanding right behind it (the venturi
effect) and run freely down the car deck, thus creating a fast growing
free liquid surface, causing an accelerating lateral  metacentric
movement, exceeding the stability limitation of the ship.
The bowspeed slowed down, due to the massive resistance the bow
construction caused the bow wave. The 24000 hp pumped the ship 180
degrees around,  while the bow stayed dead still in the water.
Centrifugal force made the ship tilt. The water ran to the low side.
The sum of ventury, sloping en widening of the ship down to the
midships, the large free liquid surface, inherent to the ro ro ship,
the lateral metacentric shift, the forward thrust of the ships
propulsion made the ship  capsize within a minute. Thanks to the
narrowness of the (*dredged) canal, it fel on its side in very shallow
water, though in a rising tide. But this kept the initial death toll
at the time of capsize surprisingly low.
The fact that so many (192) people died is again a combination of coincidents.
The SAR responsibilitry in Belgium rested with the traffic ministry,
who delegated this job tot the Belgian pilot service. When an
emergency arises, this service mans the lifeboats, a Rescue
Coordination Center and is responsible for leading and coordination
the rescue operation. This RCC was manned and functioning at 19.40
local time that evening, minutes after the capsize. 3 life boats where
manned and out at sea immediately.
In shore, rescue operations are delegated to the Provicional Govenor,
in this case the one from West Flanders.  This man, Mr Olivier
Vanneste, reacted to the fisrst message of the accident by proclaiming
"the casualty, though outside of the port of Zeebrugge, as being
inside of the port" and took charge of the rescue actions, from a make
shift rescue coordinatioin center on the locks of Zeebrugge. He failed
to notify the Pilot Service of this RCC, so in fact there wehere two
coordination centers active, without the one knowing about the other.
The pilot's RCC had radio contact with a coaster lying besides the
capsized ferry, acting as landing rig, called the River Tamar, later
assisted by the tug boat Tiger. Crew man from both, Tiger and River
Tamar had broken the windows and where hoisting survivors out of the
casualty, through 2 ropes they manned.
In the water, down amid the screaming and struggling people, a single
man in a diving suit was helping people to these ropes, tying them on
and went back for the next one. This was a naval Lieutnant by the name
of Guido Coudenburg. He, and he allone managed to get some 90 polus
people out between 19.40 and 21.00 where the last woman alive was
hoisted to safety.
There where no other people involved on the casualty, during the
entire rescue action. Guido stayed in the ship, finding and tying up
dead people till 23.50, then he had hiim self lifted out, only to be
informed, up on arrival "upstairs"  that he was the highest ranking on
the casualty thus, on site commander of it. Using the communications
of the River Tamar he contacted a dutch naval ship, the Tromp, and
transfered his command to them. He then was hoisted in a belgian naval
helicopter and was asked by its pilot, where he wanted to be taken. He
then learned to his shock, that there were 2 RCC's in action, with
only one of them communicable. The one from the govenor was also
manned with commanders of the navy, who had all resources at their
disposal: Lights, ropes, clothing, man power and all that. But they
had no radio contact nor any communication with the casualty until
midnight plus 20 minutes. That is where Guido reported to the RCC
command and that was the first breefing they received that evening, of
scale and scope of what tagedy took place off shore. They than, and
only than committed all their ressources to the rescue action, only to
find out that only bodies where there to be recovered.
The coroner report, as presented in the Churche house hearings,
falsely states "At midnight the onsite command was transfered from hms
Caldenburg to hms Tromp. This hms Caldenburg is non existent, never
was. It was Leftenant Guido Coudenburg, then a 32 years old diver and
mines and explosives disposal engineer, of the Belgian Navy, who
widnessed the screaming, noisy struggle and fight for life and
survival that took place around him, in pitch darkness, with only 2
manned ropes as the sole sources of survival. This govenor, mr Olivier
van Neste, who received a medal from the english queen,  caused with
its autocratic decision to head an RCC with access to all ressources,
and not notifying the real RCC, the death to atleast 100 people.
Dick W. Hartog
journalist and on the HoFE the night of this disaster.
Interviewed Caldenburg and the Pilot service officials minutes after
they where off duty.
Subject: Re: herald of free enterprise
From: bozman-ga on 15 Nov 2005 05:58 PST
Hello Dick,

Am I to understand that you are a survivor of the HOFE or have I
mistaken what you have wrote?  Either way, I believe I need to talk
with you more!

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