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Death of Herald of Free Enterprise assistant bosun Mark Stanley, from Ashford

By Express reporter

Tributes have been paid following the shock death of a ferry worker who was held partly responsible for the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster.

Mark Stanley was in his mid-50s and lived near Ashford. His death was announced on the website of his boyhood football club, Bromley Green FC, where he was a popular former manager and vice-president.

Mark Stanley was sssistant boatswain on the Herald of Free Enterprise

Paying tribute on behalf of the club on its website, Dave Homewood, said: "Memories of Mark are numerous and I will not dwell on the tragic events of Zeebrugge in March 1987.

"By the same token, it would be remiss not to acknowledge its happening and the profound impact levelled upon Mark’s health, work, family and football life."

It continued: "Heartfelt condolences to all of the family. Thanks Mark for being a good manager and a good friend. Rest in peace mate."

The Herald of Free Enterprise capsized on March 6, 1987, during a crossing from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge to Dover, with the loss of 193 lives.

An investigating document into the disaster, published in July 1987 by the Department for Transport, recorded that it tipped because the inner and outer bow doors were left open.

The Herald of Free Enterprise capsized just outside of the Zeebrugge harbour walls

Assistant bosun Mr Stanley, aged 28 at the time, was held partly responsible in the report for its capsizing because he was asleep in his bunk. His job was to shut the doors before the ship set sail.

The report said that he was woken by the sudden jerking as the ship began tipping.

It said. “Mr Stanley has frankly recognised his failure to turn up for duty and he will, no doubt, suffer remorse for a long time to come.”

A direct result of the disaster was a new era in ferry safety and technology that ensured captains could see if the bow doors were closed from the bridge.

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