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The Herald of Free Enterprise Casualty and Its Effect on Maritime Safety Philosophy

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Although few maritime endeavors are more prosaic than point-to-point ferry operations, on March 6, 1987, the ro-ro (roll on/roll off) passenger ferry Herald of Free Enterprise capsized 4 min after leaving port, with the loss of at least 188 lives. This paper reviews onboard as well as shoreside human factor issues that contributed to the casualty and discusses how the loss triggered a shift in international maritime safety from reactive response to a “safety culture”-oriented philosophy currently imposed through the International Safety Management Code (“ISM Code”). While full particulars have yet to be disclosed, certain similarities with the January 13, 2012 Costa Concordia casualty suggest the maritime industry is slow to apply lessons expensively learned in lost lives and property.
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Keywords: Herald of Free Enterprise; International Safety Management Code (ISM Code); organizational management theory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2012

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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