A BBC drama-documentary will delve into one of the biggest disasters in Dover history
The roll-on roll-off ferry capsized moments after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in 1987
A BBC drama-documentary will delve into one of the biggest disasters to affect Dover – the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise.
The roll-on roll-off ferry capsized moments after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on the night of March 6, 1987, killing 193 passengers and crew.
The radio drama, which airs later this month, will mix extracts from the Sheen Inquiry with reconstructions of events on the night of the sinking.
Key members of the ship’s crew, employees of Herald owners Townsend Thoresen and passengers and rescue workers are depicted in the drama.
The drama also uses the story of a fictional family to give some sense of the experiences of many families and individual passengers on board the Herald.
The programme will broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 2.30pm on Saturday February 25.
A BBC spokesman said: “It is the intention of the drama to give listeners a proper understanding of what happened with the hope that effort continues to be made in the future to prevent such a tragedy happening again.
“It will also be an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives.”
The cause of the disaster was initially found to be the negligence of the vessel’s assistant boatswain who was asleep in his cabin when he should have been closing the bow-door.
When the ship left the Belgian harbour with her bow-door open, the sea immediately flooded the decks, and within minutes she was lying on her side in shallow water.
An official inquiry placed more blame on supervisors at Townsend Thoresen and a general culture of poor communication at the company.