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Event – Zeebrugge disaster remembered

April 2017

The Herald of Free Enterprise capsized moments after departing Zeebrugge.
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Dover was the setting for a memorial service for families affected by MS Herald of Free Enterprise disaster, which happened 30 years ago.

The Herald capsized in just 90 seconds after setting sail from Zeebrugge, Belgium, on 6 March 1987. It was on course for Dover when tragedy struck and 193 people lost their lives.

Former Bishop of Liverpool Rt Rev. Bishop James Jones KBE, led prayers at the maritime charity Sailors’ Society service with around 400 people at St Mary’s Church.

Stuart Rivers, Sailors’ Society’s chief executive officer, said: ‘This tragedy has remained in the hearts of our chaplains, who provided comfort and support for the families and survivors affected. It gives us a chance to join with those families in remembrance of the loved ones they lost so suddenly, and the many acts of individual heroism of both crew and passengers that evening’.

Port chaplains from the charity were involved in support efforts in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Retired Sailors’ Society port chaplain, Bill McCrea, based himself in Dover after the disaster. He counselled the bereaved, held funerals for some of the victims and offered ongoing support, in some cases for years.

He commented, ‘I have dealt with individual loss of life with seafarers’ families over the years, but it was the enormity of the situation that was so devastating. So many people lost their lives that night’.