A tragic incident for the route.

By Mick Cutler

In the early hours of 4th October, 1981, Senlac was discharging at Dieppe when, without any warning, the linkspan collapsed. A Spanish lorry was thrown into the harbour, killing its driver.

All Newhaven-Dieppe services were immediately suspended, though some passenger-only crossings were subsequently made. A month or so later, vehicle services resumed using the ro-ro berth in Dieppe's inner harbour. It would be almost six months before the main ramp was re-opened for normal services to resume.

Photo:Collapse of Dieppe Linkspan in which a Spanish Lorry went under the ship killing the driver.

Collapse of Dieppe Linkspan in which a Spanish Lorry went under the ship killing the driver.

Mick Cutler

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'COLLAPSE OF LINK SPAN AT DIEPPE' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'COLLAPSE OF LINK SPAN AT DIEPPE' page
This page was added by Mick Cutler on 02/04/2010.
Comments about this page

I remember the reports of this incident happening at this time, but these pictures graphically illustrate this ro/ro linkspan collapse where this tragic accident occured. It would appear that both Dieppe and Newhaven, had their traumatic ro/ro link failures, that at Newhaven being when the M.V. Versailles,( Later 'STENA LONDONER') collided with the original linkspan in which it was demolished!!

March 1995, Chris. She was already Stena Londoner by then. Thankfully, it was pride that was the main casualty in our case. Andy-Editor

By Chris Young
On 03/04/2010

Dieppe was such a beautiful Harbour, We went  up and down that Linkspan in 1960's on holiday {as a child}..However, this accident is a tragedy, what a terrifying thing to have happened to the poor Driver.
Literally the stuff of nightmares to be trapped under the ship.

I suppose they are intrinsically dangerous things, and it looks a fairly steep ramp.

Was any reason found for the collapse?

By Catherine M
On 27/01/2023

The remarks on this are not quite right the Senlac was loading at the time of this incident and not discharging. As I was on watch at the time the loading officer on the car deck phoned the control room and told us to start main engines which we did as the last lorry was about to come down the ramp. As we were checking the engines they both stopped on the emergency button from the after end of the car deck. On going up to see the mate he told me that as the last lorry had just put his front wheels on the ship the linkspan hydraulics had failed and the ramp had fallen into the water with a lorry on it  and the propellers where turning.


By Mick Cutler
On 31/01/2023

That sounds even more nightmarish, Having propellers turning.. Poor driver. He didn't stand a chance by the sounds of it, a freak accident. 
I saw a man be pulled out of Bristol Docks [He was in a wheelchair when he went in] ..It will stay in my mind for ever, he looked blue grey. I remember whispering ''Good luck, Mate'' as he was stretchered away.
 Astoundingly I saw him by chance years later on an ''I survived'' type programme.
He was Eleven minutes in the water, saved by the extremely cold water {Remembrance Sunday} Police Divers were in the area because of the Armed Forces, which hastened the man's swift recovery from the depths of the murky docks. {An attempted suicide} The man was grateful to be rescued.

Goodness knows how Deep Dieppe harbour is, probably no one to recover the Driver in time.

By Catherine M
On 20/02/2023

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