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Historian warns of sunken WW2 ship filled with tons of TNT in Thames


historian says he’s a “nervous wreck” about plans to chop off the masts of a sunken WW2 cargo ship laden with explosives jutting out of the River Thames.

The SS Richard Montgomery, nicknamed the £1 billion timebomb based mostly on the quantity of harm it may trigger, has been embedded within the mouth of the River Thames because it sunk in August 1944.

The authorities has introduced plans to chop again the thick metal masts in June to cut back their weight. This may stop them collapsing into the holds, the place they might fall onto the bombs and set off an explosion.

The US Liberty ship was on its approach to ship 2,000 instances of cluster fragmentation bombs, practically 600 500lb armour-piercing bombs and no less than 1,000 extra 1,000lb bombs to Cherbourg to assist struggle again the German forces when she bumped into bother within the Thames estuary.

She dragged her anchor within the shallow water and grounded on a sandbank near the Isle of Grain.

Intensive efforts to unload the ship of its lethal cargo started however the subsequent day its hull cracked and the vessel started to sink.

The Admiralty refused to pay staff hazard cash for unloading the bombs and work stopped- lacking the very best likelihood of creating the wreck secure.

Sixty years later a report confirmed the wreck was disintegrating and the explosives had been unstable.

Right now solely the masts of the vessel – which nonetheless has 1,400 tons of explosives within the maintain – are seen.

A paddleboarder approaches the masts of the SS Richard Montgomery

/ Tim Bell / Fb

A Ministry of Defence report mentioned an explosion “would throw a 300 metre-wide column of water and particles practically 3,000 metres into the air and generate a wave 5 metres excessive”.

It’s estimated a tidal wave may wipe out some coastal communities and injury close by oil and fuel services in Sheerness.

Tim Bell, a neighborhood historian, informed The Normal he was upset that the Ministry of Defence was not going take away the complete ship.

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