As the seven year old ship set sail and headed out to sea, a chain reaction of mistakes and critical events that took place that would lead to disaster. First of all the ship's bow was heavy due to a ballast tank being used to lower the ship in order for the car deck to come level with the loading ramp. Secondly the man sent to check the bow doors were closed mistakenly saw somebody else in his place (probably a lorry driver) walking towards them and assumed he had it in hand. Thirdly, the man who was actually meant to close the doors was asleep in his cabin. The fourth critical error was the ship actually proceeded to sea with these doors open and nobody on board noticed.
A nearby dredger saw the capsize and radioed for help straight away. A massive rescue operation immediately swung into action with every available vessel heading to the ferry, helicopters and divers from nearby naval ships helped pull out over 300 people.
Inside the ferry the trapped passengers and crew were having a nightmare in the dark surrounded by upturned wreckage, water and unidentifiable flotsam. One man used his body as a bridge to get a group of people to safety. Others worked until they were exhausted.
The legacy of the Herald disaster leaves a network of grieving families and memorials on both sides of the continent.
In 2009 I passed over the area where 22 years before the whole drama of the disaster had taken place before taking the time to visit the memorial garden at a Zeebrugge church. A stone disc on the ground bears an image of the Channel that the Herald was to take, a route taken many hundreds of times before.
The area here is very quiet, sectioned off with a hedge away from prying eyes. A place where mourners could lay flowers knowing that they would not be the first, neither would they be the last.
Fast forward to 2018 and over the water to Dover, I managed to visit three places where Herald memorials were on show. The first is a memorial garden on Marine Parade, facing out to the sea ahead. A small monument pays tribute to the disaster and gives the opportunity to see life growing from a small area commemorating so many deaths.
Dover was hit hard in the disaster, the place where the ship had departed from on so many occasions, the crew came from here and it was the place that was shocked the most by the enormity of the disaster. It was only natural that there were going to be more than one memorial dedicated to this ship.
In the centre of the town itself is St Mary's Church, a place that is so well positioned it is impossible to miss. But inside is a beautiful stained glass window to the Herald and her lost souls (left).