Liberty Wreck - SS Richard Montgomery

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by raf, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. raf

    raf Senior Member

    has this been commented on before ??

    i saw a TV programme uk tv history coast and they were talking about the US augusta.

    aparently its hull is breaking up and its cargo of bombs etc are now exposed more than before.

    and they were discussing what the best corse of action would be.

    aparently it isnt the MOD or navys problem but the brithish transport ( i think)

    anyway what do you think the best corse would be .

    if left it could just go of and this would be worser than a controlled explosion.

    surely they could design some kind of concrete cover, or cover the ship in sand or some kind of netting system to limit the explosion.
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Do you mean the 'SS Richard Montgomery' raf?
    Liberty ship lying off Sheerness with many tons of wartime explosives still on board and potentially huge destructive power?
    BBC Inside Out - Exploring shipwrecks on the South Coast

    Interesting official report from the coastguard & DERA here:
    Which discusses the options available in a very clear way.
    Page 35 has a straightforward chart of the pros and cons of different methods.

    It also contains this 'seabed manifest' for the thing:

    DERA in their summary report have listed the best estimates of the munitions which remain
    aboard the SS Richard Montgomery. The weights given in the table below are those of the
    explosive content of the cargo and not the shipped weight.
    HOLD NO1
    Deep tanks Aft 79 cases signals 3 (pyrotechnics)
    1429 cases wp 100lb smoke bombs 65 (white
    Deep tanks Forward 30 Boxes boosters 31 (pyrotechnics)
    786 boxes signals
    Lower hold/tween deck 1407 500lb bombs TNT AN M64A1 167
    850 1000lb bombs TNT AN M65 208
    1500 250lb bombs TNT AN M57 84
    HOLD NO 2
    Lower hold 1068 1000lb SAP bombs TNT AW-M59 140
    574 500lb SAP bombs AN M58 41
    286 2000lb GP TNT AN-M66 144
    588 1000lb AN M65 140
    Tween deck 521-580 B260lb fragmentation bombs AN M81 9
    2297 cases of fragmentation bomb clusters 9
    AN M1A1 (6 x 20lb fused)
    and/or AN M4A1 (3 x 23lb unfused)
    and/or AN-M81 B260lb
    HOLD NO 3
    Lower hold/tween deck 1170 SAP 1000lb bombs 163
    406 GP 1000lb bombs 99
    1351 SAP 500lb bombs 97
    TOTAL 1400 tonnes

    Which is ... quite a lot.

  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    You have to be correct, Adam, the USS Augusta was sold for scrap in 1959. The other Augustas were either wooden ships or a 688 class attack sub.
  4. machine shop tom

    machine shop tom Senior Member


  5. raf

    raf Senior Member

    thats the one von...thanks

    what would you do
  6. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Whats the problem. Just leave it , it'l be fine.

  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Changed the title of the thread.

    Deep tanks Forward 30 Boxes boosters 31 (pyrotechnics)

    786 boxes signals

    Anybody know specifically what 'boosters 31' might be?

  8. Steve Newman

    Steve Newman Member

    The Montgomery can be seen still, from both the Kent and Essex side (where I am) and is a bit of a landmark for fishing boats and the like. Nearer the Essex side is also one of D-Days Mulberry Harbours that broke off during a storm and still sits clearly visible near a sand bank. During the 1960's a tanker went over the wreck of the Montgomery and I think if she was going to blow it would've been then. I have taken up a light aircraft and flown over it and on a clear day a lot can be seen, the masts were equally still visible above the waterline, I always remember as a kid living close to the seafront and being worried it might go off and flood us with a tidal wave!!

  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    I found this. Cannot verify it's relevance to the SS Montgomery

    Pyrotechnics, Explosives, & Fireworks

    A high-explosive charge generally needs an easily-activated "detonator" or "blasting cap" to cause it to explode, and sometimes may also need a secondary "booster charge" of intermediate sensitivity that is triggered by the detonator to initiate the full explosion.

    and is often used as a booster, or in "detonating cord (detcord)", a type of explosive line used as a detonator and for specialized demolition tasks.

    Explosives may the Engineers used to set off a main charge?

    Also found this page

    go to Edit\Find On This Page and search for booster.

    This is just a wag on my part.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I am quite familiar with this ship. Growing up in London I spent all my Summer holidays and half terms on Sheppy due to my parents best friends owing a caravan site on the island at the time (Their first). Incidently he went on to own Fletchers Battery Caravan Site which was a rather large WW2 Anti Aircraft and Defence Site during the war (Loads of underground bunkers and emplacements I recall)

    As for the ship there are three theories in circulation as to how she came about. The correct one I believe was whilst most of the crew was ashore and she was waiting to come into London she broke her moorings and ran aground which led to her braking her back.

    The other two are a U-Boat and a E-Boat attack.

    Personaly I rather like the E-Boat story my father told me when I was a child that the Germans used to come into the cracks in the cliffs at high tide and camouflage themselves during the day waiting for a ship to approach or leave the estuary and then launch an attack.

    I used to imagine as a child when I used to go and play on the cliffs I would find one hiding in the nooks and crannies (I was only 10 or so before you laugh) and spy on them before the Royal Navy came to the rescue. (Those were the days)

    Anyway during the late 70's early 80's the Richard Montgomery was declared a no go area for divers as there was reports they were not only diving on her but taking salvage. So now it is I believe still to this day dived on by the RN to check her stability. It's thought that if she explodes a significant part of the island will disappear with it.

    Some rather good pictures of what can been seen at low tide:



    I've also heard from the islanders that the reason why only half of the cargo was cleared was due to her carrying Chemical and Bio weapons. There has even been suggestions that she was carrying a Atomic bomb destined for Germany.

    You have got to love the conspiracy theories :D
  11. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Theres still ordanance on the Japanese wrecks of Truk Lagoon and they are still dived on. The Japanese wrecks are mostly deep and the cost to salvage munitions prohibitive but this wreck is shallow and the munitions should have been salvaged.

  12. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    I believe the principle here is to let sleeping dogs lie.
    The wreck is clearly marked and shipping keeps well away.
    No one knows how active or inert the cargo is, but the longer it remains inactive then the less likely anything will happen.
    We can all envision doomsday scenarios, but there are enough things already to be concerned about, so why add to them?
    If it's destined to happen, then no matter what, it will.
    If it isn't then it won't....
    Do something that you can have an effect on, that will clear your mind of other things!
    And as for the original post, how on earth did anyone make any sense of it?
    Little Friend likes this.
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    SDP likes this.
  14. JDKR

    JDKR Senior Member

    Probably of more concern are the very large quantities of German chemical munitions dumped in the Baltic in the immediate post-war period.
    SDP likes this.
  15. JDKR

    JDKR Senior Member

  16. ploughman

    ploughman Junior Member

    Is that the wreck that lies just offshore on the Kent side?
    In particular, just offshore of what was or still is a Royal Engineer Demolition range.

    Had a couple of Demolition excercises there in the 80's using restricted size charges. I think there was a limit of 2kg per charge due to the proximity of a loaded wrecked ship.
    I recall that straight across from the range was the Refinery at Canvey island.
    Qu1ckn1ck likes this.
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    I've got it covered

    ozzy16 and Tricky Dicky like this.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Is he involved ?

    Roy Martin likes this.
  20. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    From my limited experience, only worked on one Liberty with explosives (Alexander Macomb), you can spend quite a long time firing small cutting charges, then there is a very big bang. In our case the wreck was on the seabed and the main result was a large upwelling of water. The recovery ships had had this problem before, so even the accommodation lights were on very short lengths of flex, because when this first happened most of the bulbs shattered.

    The worst-case was the Italian salvage ship Artiglio, which blew up and sank whilst working on a wreck with explosives. We had a small shield in the saloon (mess room) which just said 'Remember the Artiglio'.

    Based on the above I wouldn't go near the damned thing and cannot see any point in tempting providence by cutting the masts down at least without help from the son of God. Perhaps Boris wants to divert attention from something!! Maybe the environmentalists should weigh-in, after all this would deprive the Shags of their perches.
    SDP, Qu1ckn1ck, ozzy16 and 4 others like this.

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