Or Argh! Argh! We’re all gonna Die!
One aspect of World War Two history not taught at schools and the government doesn’t seem to want to talk about much even though it’s alive and kicking today is the largest bomb in history sitting at the bottom of the Thames and primed to explode.
The SS Richard Montgomery was a World War II Liberty Ship jam packed with 6,127 tons of explosive and bound for France. She was ordered to berth off Sheerness to await orders and ran aground on one of the Estuaries notorious sand banks. Three days later a Stevedore company began to unload the munitions from the stricken ship, but after three days the hull began to break apart and soon the operation had to be abandoned.
The wreck of the ship lies beside the Isle of Sheppey and about 2.5 km from Sheerness. Only about half the munitions were removed and it’s estimated 3,173 tons of explosives are still aboard the wreck.
Whether it will blow with time is a contentious issue some experts feel that deteriorating detonators could eventually explode. Most experts agree if the ship blows it will be the largest non-nuclear explosion ever. The BBC states,
“In 1970, government tests on the site showed a blast would hurl a 1,000ft wide column of water, mud, metal and munitions almost 10,000ft into the air. The explosion would also generate a 16ft high wave that could sink a small craft. “
On the other hand some experts think attempting to remove the explosives could potentially be more dangerous than leaving it.
It has been a shipping hazard since the war there have been 20 near misses involving the ship and one collision. And even worse the hull is now apparently breaking up with only a few years left.
However since the war each successive government has had the policy of ignoring the problem and this doesn’t seem like it’s going to change soon.