Woolwich Ferry to be named after drowned deckhand

Image source, Serco
Image caption,
Ben Woollacott fell from the boat while mooring ropes were being untied

The father of a teenage deckhand who died after falling from a ferry has said it is "very special" that a boat will be named in his honour.

Ben Woollacott, 19, died in 2011 after being dragged from the Woolwich Ferry while mooring ropes were being untied.

The then company in charge, Serco Ltd, was fined £200,000 for failing to ensure the safety of its crew.

Mr Woollacott's father Steve said his son, from Swanley in Kent, "will always be with us".

"Being out on the river, it's like he's here, it's like his spirit is still here," he added.

Image caption,
Steve Woollacott said his son "loved the way of life" when he worked on the river

The family has worked on the river for years, with the 19 year old being the sixth generation of Thames "watermen".

"We often hear the Woolwich Ferry calling up so we'll always hear Ben's name when they make their river crossings," Mr Woollacott's father said.

A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch in 2012 found Mr Woollacott suffered head injuries and was most likely dragged violently against the side of the ferry by the rope, which had tangled in the vessel's propeller.

He drowned despite his life jacket bringing him to the surface and the quick actions of his colleagues, it said.

Image source, Chris Whippet
Image caption,
The new vessel, costing around £20m, will enter service in 2018

The new vessel, costing around £20m, is being constructed by Polish boat builders Remontowa and will enter service in 2018.

The new ferries will form part of a range of new river crossings in east London recently announced by the mayor of London.

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