Herald of Free Enterprise Disaster – 6th March 1987
RAF Search and Rescue teams in helicopters from No.22 Sqn at Manston were part of the rescue operation for the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry which had capsized shortly after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
It saw the loss of 193 lives from a total of 463 passengers and 80 crew.
Manston was also used as the forward operating base for other helicopters scrambled from RAF Brawdy, RAF Coltishall, RNAS Culdrose and RAF Bulmer. An RAF Hercules which had landed by chance at Manston on its way to RAF Lyneham was also commandeered to fly to Zeebrugge with underwater lighting equipment, divers, diving equipment and a team from the Kent Fire Brigade and their equipment.
More details on the 2017 anniversary: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39116394
Herald of Free Enterprise being towed into the harbour of Vlissingen, Netherlands after salvage. By Archief Ranter (The original uploader was AirSafetyGuy at English Wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons