Sunken Ship With 1,400 Tonnes of Unexploded Bombs Could Cause A Mini Tsunami


A no-fly zone has been imposed over the vessel which some experts have said could cause a “mini tsunami,” reports MyLondon.

Vessel remains on the seabank

The Thames has seen thousands of ship wrecks over the centuries, but none quite as dramatic as the SS Richard Montgomery. A US ship of some 7,146 gross tonnes, she was built in 1943 by the St John’s River Shipbuilding Company of Jacksonville. She put to sea in 1944 packed full of munitions to help the war effort, but when she reached the Thames estuary things went badly wrong.

In August 1944 she dragged anchor and ran aground on a sand bank, running east from the Isle of Grain approximately 250 metres north of the Medway Approach Channel. Intensive efforts began to unload her cargo but by the next day, a crack appeared in the hull and the forward end began to flood. The salvage effort had to be abandoned when the vessel finally flooded completely.

To this day then, the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery remains on the sandbank where she sank. Her masts are clearly visible above the water at all states of the tide. There are still approximately 1,400 tons of highly deadly explosives contained within the forward holds.

A probable ‘mini tsunami’

According to a survey carried out in 2000 by the UK government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the ship likely contains a staggering assortment of more than 9,000 US-made explosives. These include 286 giant 2,000lb ‘blockbuster’ bombs, 4,439 1,000lb devices and more than 2,500 cluster bombs.

In 2004 the New Scientist reported that if the ship exploded it would be one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts ever and destroy the nearby port of Sheerness. Experts have said it would also create a “tsunami-like wave” which would sweep up the River Medway, flooding thousands of homes and ruining towns and villages.

Over the years though, munitions experts have advised that the wreck would be most stable if it was left alone. However in recent years, this is being questioned as surveys have shown the hull is beginning to seriously deteriorate.

Read the full article here.

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Source: MyLondon


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