The sinking of the Ro–Ro passenger ferry SS Heraklion

Papanikolaou, A. and Boulougouris, Evangelos and Sklavenitis, A. (2014) The sinking of the Ro–Ro passenger ferry SS Heraklion. International Shipbuilding Progress, 61 (1-2). pp. 81-102. ISSN 0020-868X (

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On December 8, 1966 the Ro–Pax ferry SS Heraklion capsized and sank in the Aegean Sea, resulting in the death of over 200 people. The present paper tries to shed some light into the various events that led to the largest tragedy of modern Greek maritime history. It re-constructs the accidental data based on a variety of original investigation reports, ship files and legal evidence. Ship’s loading, intact and damage stability behaviour were re-investigated and the flooding/sinking of the ship was simulated by use of a time simulation method. Results of our investigation were compared with available testimonies of survivors. It was found that downflooding of large void spaces below the flooded car deck and the effect of multiple free surfaces on ship’s stability was eventually the main reason for SS Heraklion’s capsize.


Papanikolaou, A., Boulougouris, Evangelos ORCID logoORCID: and Sklavenitis, A.;