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Author Topic: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?  (Read 1548 times)

Offline P-Kasso2

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A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« on: 03 September, 2017, 04:48:48 PM »
I didn't believe what a friend told me until he googled me this photograph...



He says that when he was in Sheerness recently he saw what turned out to be a ship full of thousands of tons of bombs off the shores of the Thames at Sheerness. Apparently, it's an old wartime American supply ship - called the US Richard Montgomery or something - stuffed full of bombs.

As you can see from the pic, the River Thames is so shallow there that the masts can clearly be seen poking out of the water!

The wreck's even got warning notices on it, saying things like "Don't get on this wreck. Danger. Unexploded bombs". This is scary. Really scary. And it sparks off a whole list of questions in my mind...

A) Is there really still a ship-ful of 70-year-old festering wartime bombs lying rotting away off Sheerness?

B) Why hasn't it been made safe? (The Thames isn't deep there. And 70 years is plenty of time to have cleared it up.)

C) As you can see in the pic, really big ships, tankers and ferries etc, sail right up to it. Kerboom this week, next week?

D) Or is it no threat?

E) Just how do they know that it is no threat?



« Last Edit: 03 September, 2017, 04:55:27 PM by P-Kasso2 »
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Offline siasl

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Re: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« Reply #1 on: 04 September, 2017, 09:36:44 AM »
From memory, it is there. Boris had that plan for an airport in the Thames, which I believe would require this wreck to be cleared. However it is so old, the explosives in it are probably rather unstable due to corrosion, and so clearing it is rather a significant risk - no diver wants to go down there.

A swift google trawls up (pardon the pun) the SS Richard Montgomery, still containing 1400 tonnes of ordnance. It ran aground during berthing, and then broke up when the tide lowered the water level. Ironically it was not originally cleaned up due to the expense, but there's a scary list of what is on there in the wiki, which also notes that the explosives are sufficiently degraded that they could go off spontaneously.

There was a similar wreck off Folkestone back in the late 60s, carrying less explosives, which they tried to clear up. Unfortunately something went pop and the whole lot went up, with the explosive effect of a 4.5 Richter earthquake for the locals.

Offline P-Kasso2

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Re: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« Reply #2 on: 05 September, 2017, 12:30:45 PM »

Thanks Siasl. That just leaves 'Why on earth didn't the bliddy authorities clear up this wreck as soon as the War was over or shortly after?' Would have been cheaper, presented no risk of accidental explosion etc etc. It makes me wonder if politicians are really as far-sighted and wise as they keep telling us they are. (Kerlunk! as I fall over laughing my bum off.)
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Offline siasl

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Re: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« Reply #3 on: 05 September, 2017, 08:40:18 PM »
It was too expensive. And now it's more expensive

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Re: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« Reply #4 on: 06 September, 2017, 06:23:25 PM »
It was too expensive. And now it's more expensive

How could it have been too expensive? Just drop a bomb on it. Plenty of bombs left over at the end of the war.

And plenty of today's royal air force crews need bombing practice. I can't see the problem. It has to be faced sooner or later.
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Offline siasl

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Re: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« Reply #5 on: 06 September, 2017, 08:37:13 PM »
I guess if something much smaller registered as a Richter 4 earthquake, what could possibly go wrong?  whisl

Someone did a risk assessment:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/3578244.stm

Might be innacurate, but do you wanna make that call?

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Re: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« Reply #6 on: 08 September, 2017, 05:12:48 PM »
I guess if something much smaller registered as a Richter 4 earthquake, what could possibly go wrong?  whisl

Someone did a risk assessment:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/3578244.stm

Might be innacurate, but do you wanna make that call?

I've just chickened out, Siasl. Seriously chickened out!
Reading that link you gave above (that says that the 1,400 tonnes of TNT on board the Montgomery is a twelfth the amount of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan) has had a strangely off-putting effect on my derring-do.

And the idea of the blast sending a 1,000ft wide column of water, mud, metal and munitions almost 10,000ft into the air just about put the lid on it. I know where I am not going for my hols next year! Pass me my tin helmet.
« Last Edit: 08 September, 2017, 05:16:15 PM by P-Kasso2 »
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Offline tecspec

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Re: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« Reply #7 on: 28 September, 2017, 06:14:18 PM »
OOOhhhh... I saw this on tv yesterday. Coast series 2 episode 8. (It's available on the Yesterday Channel on Catch up until end October 17)
They said that if/when it blows up it'll be felt well inland and the resulting pressure wave would be felt around the globe!!!
;-)

Offline P-Kasso2

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Re: A ship full of unexploded bombs in the Thames Estuary?
« Reply #8 on: 30 September, 2017, 05:35:51 PM »
OOOhhhh... I saw this on tv yesterday. Coast series 2 episode 8. (It's available on the Yesterday Channel on Catch up until end October 17)
They said that if/when it blows up it'll be felt well inland and the resulting pressure wave would be felt around the globe!!!

I didn't see the programme Tec, but I wouldn't worry too much. An earthquake of 4 on the Richter Scale doesn't do too much damage. I've experienced several earthquakes of 3.9 on the Richter Scale in Japan and they just rattle a few cups in cupboards. No damage or devastation.

This is because earthquakes measured on the Richter Scale are logarithmic (ie a 3 is not twice but ten times greater force than a 2 - a 4 is 100 times greater than a 2 - and a 5 is 1,000 times greater than a 2 etc).

To put this in perspective, the recent devastating earthquake that hit Nepal two years ago (a 7.8 earthquake, almost a force eight) would be not twice as severe as a force 4 but almost 10,000 times as powerful as a piddly little force 4.
 
There's a very good descriptive chart of the relative forces and effects of earthquakes and the Richter Scale at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richter_magnitude_scale

If you scroll down you'll see the official description of a force 4 earthquake as...

"Force 4 to 4.9    Noticeable shaking of indoor objects and rattling noises. Felt by most people in the affected area. Slightly felt outside. Generally causes none to minimal damage. Moderate to significant damage very unlikely. Some objects may fall off shelves or be knocked over."

Apparently there are up to 15,000 force 4 earthquakes per year, you never hear off them because they are too insignificant to fret about. One more off the coast of the coast of Sheerness shouldn't cause much worry unless you are a seagull living in Sheerness in which case you might get a few feathers ruffled.
« Last Edit: 30 September, 2017, 05:41:41 PM by P-Kasso2 »
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