Waterbodies & Maritime => Wrecks & Disasters => Topic started by: Guest on June 02, 2008, 19:22:09

Title: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Guest on June 02, 2008, 19:22:09
Frank Turners wrote a booklet about the Richard Montgomery which is very informative.

I was advised by a reliable source a few years ago that following a lot of post war arguments between the US and UK as to who was to blame for putting the Montgomery on a too shallow mooring the US govt paid the UK the cost of a tidy up operation, but insisited that Britain undertook the operation.

The govt very conveniantly spent the funds on an at the time more pressing needs.

I have also heard rumours of 'dirty weapons' being on board.  This would perhaps explain the reluctance to clear the wreck.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: seafordpete on June 03, 2008, 08:25:37
The US denied it was the RM for many years saying that the RM had gone down off Whitstable. I saw a survey done about 1977 when I was on a course at Lodge Hill. The contents were still viable then, most in well greased transit containers. The risk is of the bomb filling deteriorating and becoming ultra sensitive and a chain reaction being set off if one goes up. The cargo was mostly high capacity blast bombs, ie thin skins. Used to be a great place to go on the "trip around the bay" boats when I was a kid, at high tide they used to sail  over her between the masts. Pete
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Dave Weller on November 22, 2008, 21:28:29
I could not find the results of the board of trade enquiry findings into the sinking, I did find out things about the officers of HMS Leigh (Southend Pier) and that the money, if paid for the clean up went missing about 1980 (Thatcher/Tebbitt).
 I only looked on Google, the survey results are available, 
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 02, 2009, 18:36:45
A couple of snippets from a document exploring the effects of detonation of SS Richard Montgomery 1970

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/DSCF1343Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/DSCF1344Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/DSCF1345Large.jpg)

If you want the whole document order AVIA 37/916 at the National Archives.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: de Mol on April 22, 2009, 16:46:45
From the Medport News 1981:
"Another look at RICHARD
During late July and early August,Ministry of Defence diving oprerations from the R.M.A.S. Dornoch
using a Royal Navy diving team,were carried out from gemini inflatable craft on the wreck of the
RICHARD MONTGOMERY.The operation ,which lasted six weeks,forms part of the regular observation
and monitoring of the state of this thirty-seven year old war-time wreck."

How often are these carried out?

I can remember my father telling me he had Emergency Plans locked up in his Office Safe.
The plans were to be used and steps taken accordingly if the worst case was to occur.

Martin.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 22, 2009, 21:31:53
Interesting, thanks for adding this!  I think the checks used to be yearly however i don't know about now, seems about 3 years between the sonar checks though.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: de Mol on April 23, 2009, 16:01:40
Thank you Kyn.

Found a picture of the Dornoch,wanted to know what sort of ship it was.Might be of interest :)

She was a Clovelly Class Auxillary Fleet Tender.

http://www.hydrographicsociety.org/news/Corporate-Members-News/2001-10-NORCOM%20TECHNOLOGY.htm

Martin.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: smiler on September 09, 2009, 19:40:27
I have wondered for years will the Mongomery blow up, working daily quite near it I have never been concerned obout it, if it goes then I wont know so why worry?
This is an extract that I wrote at the time.

!978 Sheerness floods
As it got near the afternoon's high tide, we were told to make our way up to the sea wall, where there was a breach, that had allowed  the Town to be flooded, a mobile Readymix lorry, was backing along the top of the sea wall to deposit its load into the breach, we were to cover this with sand bags to protect it, before the sea washed it away, it would take about two hours to dry. As we got to the top of the sea wall we got the full blast of the wind coming straight in from the sea, this made it very difficult to stand, we became aware of large timbers washing in with the waves, they must have come from the deck of a ship out at sea, these were whole trees sawn into planks then banded into bales, as they hit the sea wall they split open, like surf  boards coming at us like battering rams. If any of us got hit we would have been badly injured or worse.
Behind us was the flooded moat of the old dock, the sea was rising, the waves were hitting the top of the seawall and breaking over us . There was only one way back. "If the sand bags don't come soon  it will be too late" the voice of a colleague voiced all our thoughts.
The sea was now lapping the wet cement, and a fierce spray began washing it away. No sand bags had arrived, my donkey jacket and overalls were soaked through, and my Wellington boots were full with water. I held my hat in place , and had to take my glasses off, my face was stinging with the wind my eyes running, a large timber was thrown up at us, landing on the sea wall. We must leave or be washed away by the tide.
We made our way along the top of the sea wall to the shelter of an upturned deck chair hut, that was still full of deck chairs, with the door still padlocked, we cowered behind it in the lea from the gale force wind, we stayed till three o'clock
Water came over the wet cement, and washed it away, the Beachfields  Park soon got  flooded, we made an attempt to place boards between the walls that  once had been the picnic area, but the boards just floated as the water reached them, an archway between The Travellers Rest Cafe, had a torrent of water coming out into the High Street, as there was so many shops and  super stores we were told to block this off, before the water got into them, but a confrontation with the owner of The Travellers Rest, who now got the whole of the flood into his shop and cellars, had to be restrained, the water now crossed the Main Road and flooded the station  the Railway lines were submerged for some way back along the track.
A worker inspects the top of the sea wall, a steel Cason that is being used to reinforce the sea wall now lies against the Lifeguard hut.
Is the onshore wind going to bring the Richard Montgomery ashore?
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Ex-Chalky on December 04, 2009, 12:08:15
An uncle of mine was on one of the tugs that went out to the Richard Montgomery at the time, he said something about hatch covers not being properly secured in time, and it not being properly anchored.   Of course, that may not be entirely accurate.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Stewie on December 04, 2009, 14:59:53
When i was a lot younger in the 60's my parents used to take us to Sheerness for the day and it was possible to take an organised trip on a boat seating about 20 persons from the beach out to the wreck, which from memory got close enough to be able to read the signs and see the masts in some detail.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: seafordpete on March 08, 2010, 18:50:28
When i was a lot younger in the 60's my parents used to take us to Sheerness for the day and it was possible to take an organised trip on a boat seating about 20 persons from the beach out to the wreck, which from memory got close enough to be able to read the signs and see the masts in some detail.

Should have gone there in the 50s they used to sail between the masts at high tide, no exclusion zone then
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Phil W on April 02, 2010, 22:10:46
I have a book about the wreck of the Richard Montgomery but I can't find it at the moment. But I do remember that the cargo was of bombs for the US 8th Air Force. After the vessel grounded she started to break up and a stevedore was called in to rescue the cargo, about two thirds of the cargo was recovered before the vessel started to break up even more making it too dangerous to continue. The first cracks in the hull appeared just forward of the bridge on number 3 hold which still contains all the munitions that were loaded. The after holds were completely emptied and the holds 1 and 2 partially emptied before the attempt was abandoned. There is nothing to suggest that the cargo was other than conventional aircraft bombs, a full cargo manifest was included in the book with details of what was recovered. That still however leaves several hundred tons of high explosives sitting in the Thames estuary!
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Bilgerat on June 26, 2010, 13:56:35
Not sure how much knowledge there is here about this subject, but the Wikipedia has a page on it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Richard_Montgomery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Richard_Montgomery)

The Coastguard Station at Garrison Point keep a VERY close eye on the wreck and anyone snooping around it is seen off by the local plod in double quick time!!

I have heard and read a lot of nonsense about the likely impact if the wreck does go bang. Sheerness will be pretty much trashed. The size of the tidal wave would depend on the amount of water over the wreck at the time, but worst case would be if it went bang at the height of an equinox spring tide, you'd be looking at about a 20ft wave, or so I've read.

As far as the post about possible WMD on the wreck is concerned, if there were any real nasties aboard, our American cousins wouldn't have just handed the UK govt a wad of cash and told us to go clean it up, they would have been all over it like a rash and would have made damn sure that the WMD would have been taken off first and by their own people.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 22, 2010, 11:44:20
TREASURY SOLICITOR'S DEPARTMENT,
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT BRANCH,
BERKELEY SQUARE HOUSE,
LONDON, W.1.
3rd September, 1952.
Dear Kent,
We are concerned over here with the liability for the expenditure involved in raising a wreck in the River Thames, which is the property of the U.S. Government.  The vessel was sunk during the war an has not yet been raised.  Inquiries have been made to know if a liability of this character is dealt with in any of the mutual Forbearance arrangements between the British and U.S. Governments.
Command Paper 6416 setting out the British/American "Knock for Knock" Agreement does not appear to extend to raising wrecks, but it is possible that with your experience you may know if similar arrangements were made to cover matters of this kind.  Keen, who was dealing with the case, does not recall any such arrangements, but I should be glad if you would let me know if, in your view, this is correct.

Yours sincerely,
????????????
A.H. Kent Esq.,
Treasury Solicitor's Department,
Storey's Gate,
LONDON. S.W.1.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 27, 2010, 21:49:37
"Richard Montgomery"

Any agreement made by the U.S. Government with a third party could not affect the P.L.A's statutory right of recovery.  It could only create rights between the U.S.G. and the third party.
The matter is of course one of wreck removal, not salvage.
No doubt you will ascertain whether there are any reciprocal arrangements with the U.S.Government relating to wreck removal.  I do not know of any, but if you think it would be helpful I should be glad to look through Sir William McNair's and Mr. Roskill's old files.
With respect, I think it advisable to take legal advice at all stages of what is largely a legal matter.  If there are any further meetings during my absence on leave (from this week-end to September 4th) you may wish to consult Mr. Macmahon in the first instance.
Mr. Walton.
Copies to:-
Mr. O'Neill
Mr. Kent.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 28, 2010, 13:11:31
"Richard Montgomery".

Thank you for your minute of the 29th July.  My minute of the previous day seems to have suffered by compression.  I did not, of course, have it in mind that the legal advisers at the Embassy would be able to speak with authority on the Port of London statutes, but assumed that they could give some assistance in dealing with the general question of the U.S. Government?s claim of sovereign immunity to avoid responsibility resting on them as owners of the vessel.
On the second point, I agree that the initial claim of the P.L.A. rests against the owners of the vessel at the time of the sinking.
  My purpose in asking Mr. Edwards to clarify the question of present ownership was not merely to find out whether the U.S. Government had disposed of the ship, but, if so, whether the terms of the disposal explicitly passed to the new owners the responsibility for salvage.  I did make this point clear in the letter to Mr. Edwards.

S.R. Walton.
30th July, 1952
Mr. A.W.G.Kean
Copies to Mr. Denis O'Neill
Mr. A.H. Kent
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: busyglen on September 15, 2010, 16:00:00
As a child of about 11, I used to push my niece up to the seafront in her pram to give my sister a break.  She had given me 2s6d which I had saved, and I decided to go out on the (Sheppey Queen I think) which used to do trips around the wreck.  I can remember lifting the baby out of the pram, which I left on the seawall,  (which you could in those days) and climbing on board.  I was thrilled to be on a boat on the sea, but my knowledge of the wreck was only that it had sunk during the War.  If we had known then what we know now, I think my sister would have died from shock if she'd known I'd taken her young daughter over the top of the ship!  Also my mother!
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on September 16, 2010, 12:01:27
"Richard Montgomery"

Thank you for sending me a copy of your minute of the 28th July, 1952, addressed to Mr O'Neill.

I am not reported quite accurately in the last paragraph of the minute.  I suggested, very generally, that Mr. Edwards might be able to help in this case, not that the legal advisor to the Embassy should be brought in.  The legal advisor is mostly in New York, dealing with U.N. affairs, and he is unlikely to be familiar with, or even have copies of, the Port of London Statutes.

Although I have not been formally asked for an opinion, I have looked at section 431 of the Port of London (Consolidation) Act, 1920, which provides that the P.L.A. "shall" cause the vessel to be raised, blown up or otherwise destroyed "so as to clear the River Thames thereof".  The sidenote is "As to obstructions", but I doubt whether it could be said that the wreck is not an obstruction, unless sit blocks a piece of water which is totally un-navigable by any kind of vessel.  You will notice that the word is "shall" and not "may", so that the duty to remove the wreck is placed fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the P.L.A., who are entitled to recover the cost of removing the wreck from the owner at the time of the sinking or stranding.  It is accordingly irrelevant, from the legal viewpoint, whether, since the loss of the ship, the wreck has been sold, and I would suggest that Mr. Edwards need not pursue that particular inquiry further.  We must, however, ascertain who the owner was at the time of the sinking or stranding.

If, therefore, the owner at that time was the U.S.Government, the question arises whether the P.L.A. would have any enforceable claim against that Government.  They could not be sued here and we should have to ascertain whether it is open to a foreign Corporation, not doing business in the Untied States, to bring an action in the Court of claims.  You will remember that in the "Brabo" case we were advised that an action might be brought in the Belgian Courts to enforce the recovery provisions of the Tyne Improvement Act, and I see no reason why the position should not be the same in an American Court.  This is a point on which the P.L.A. might ultimately have to consult American Counsel.  I am not, of course, contemplating that the P.L.A. should engage upon the slow and lengthy process of the court of Claims, but if we reach the conclusion that they would have recovery rights enforceable there Mr. Edwards might be in a better position to raise the question with the U.S. authorities.

Mr. Walton.

29th July, 1952
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: busyglen on September 16, 2010, 14:46:18
Thanks for all your hard work Kyn in presenting all of these documents.  :)  They are really interesting reading and enlarges what went on behind the scenes.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on September 19, 2010, 15:29:43
Memorandum on the subject of the wreck of the s.s.
RICHARD MONTGOMERY

(1)   The statutory jurisdiction of the Port of London Authority over the Thames extends down to a line drawn from Havengore Creek in Essex to Warden Point in Kent.
(2)   At the beginning of the last way the Admiralty, acting under the Defence Regulations, assumed control over the lower reaches of the River.
(3)   All salvage operations in this country were brought under the control of the Admiralty from the outbreak of hostilities but by agreements, or what were known as "Heads of Arrangement", in certain ports the Admiralty delegated the actual carrying out of the work to Port Authorities or Salvage Organisations.
(4)   An agreement made with the Admiralty which came into operation on the 1st September, 1940, extended the functions of the authority for salvage purposes to a line drawn from Walton on the Nase to the North Foreland.  Under this agreement the Admiralty placed additional vessels and equipment at the Authority's disposal and provision was made as to the incidence of costs.
(5)   Whilst under the agreement the Authority had executive responsibility fro the carrying out of all salvage and wreck-raising operations within the extended area above-mentioned, the Admiralty gave directions as to what work the Authority should undertake and the order of priority for dealing with wrecks was settled by the Flag Officer in Charge, London, after consultation with the Commander-in-Chief, the Nore.
(6)   On the 20th August, 1944, the s.s.RICHARD MONTGOMERY of 7,225 tons gross, laden with 6,876 tons of bombs, detonators, etc., and operated by the United States War Shipping Administration went aground and became a total wreck after dragging her anchors from an anchorage in the Great Nore which had been indicated by the Admiralty.  She lies within that part of the area of the dockyard port of Sheerness which is itself within the Port of London.
(7)   On the 22nd August, 1944, a telephone message was received from "S" Branch, Admiralty, as follows:-
"s.s.RICHARD MONTGOMERY being within the dockyard port of Sheerness the Admiralty are principals and the P.L.A. Agents.  Costs, therefore, should go to the Admiralty?."
On the same day a letter was addressed by the Authority?s Salvage Department to the Head of "S" Branch, Admiralty, as follows:-
"With reference to the salvage operations about to be undertaken on the above vessel in the Thames Estuary, it is understood that as this vessel is lying in the dockyard port of Sheerness the Admiralty will be the principals, the Port Authority acting as Agents".  I shall be glad if you will confirm the above arrangement?.
The Admiralty replied in a letter (reference S.7066/44) dated the 23rd August, 1944, as follows:-
"In reply to your letter on the 22nd August, I am commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to state that They note that the salvage operations about to be undertaken on the s.s.RICHARD MONTGOMERY are for account of the Admiralty".
(8)   The Authority employed a firm of stevedores to discharge the bombs and the Admiraly supplied the necessary coasters to receive the cargo.  Further cargo wa also taken in barges hired by the Admiralty.  During the period from the 23rd August, 1944, to the 25th September, 1944, 3,170 tons of bombs were discharged from the after part of the ship.  Thereafter, having regard to the high costs of the operations already carried out and the onset of shorter day-light hours and worsening weather conditions, no attempt was made to removed the 3,700 tons of bombs in the fore part of the ship and no further request was received from the Admiralty to resume operations in the spring of 1945 or any later date.  These still, therefore, remain in the vessel.
For the operations carried out the Authority's account amounting to £16,200.18. 3. Was rendered to the Head of "S" Branch, Admiralty, and duly paid.
(9)   As from the 1st March, 1946, the Salvage Agreement with the Admiralty was superseded by a new one, the main alterations being of a financial nature relating to the charges for salvage vessels etc. and the management fee.  The agreement, however, added that the Admiralty salvage vessels placed at the Port Authority's disposal should primarily be used fro the removing of seven named wrecks, and it is important to note that the S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY was not one of them.
(10)   In June, 1946 the Admiralty intimated that they felt the time had arrived for the control of operations to be restored to the salvage organisations so as to give them freedom of action in carrying out whatever work they wished, and they gave notice of termination of the agreement which accordingly came to an end on the 30th September, 1946.
(11)   On the 9th August, 1946, the Authority enquired of the Admiralty as to the position in regard to the S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY and the following reply dated 12th August, 1946, was received:-
"I have to confirm that this wreck will not be removed and that My Lords have given approval for a light beacon to be placed on the wreck.  I am also to say that the cargo of the wreck will not be discharged.  It is most improbably that his cargo constitutes any danger provided that no big explosion (such as that of a depth charge) takes place in the immediate vicinity".
The Admiralty have continued to mark the wreck up to the present time.
(12)   As has already been stated the wreck lies in that part of the dockyard port of Sheerness which is in the Port of London.  The Queen's Harbour Master has power to remove any wreck causing an obstruction in the dockyard port or to the approaches thereto but this power admittedly does not lessen in any way the obligations placed upon or the powers given to the Authority by Section 431 of the Port of London (Consolidation) Act, 1920 in respect if the removal of wrecks within the area of the Port of London and the recovery of costs for so doing.
(13)   So far as the Authority are aware the wreck is owned by the American Government or some American Corporation to whom the vessel has been sold.  In either case if the Authority undertook the removal of the wreck they would be unable to take Court action under their statutory powers for the recovery of their expenses.  Failing recovery, they would fall to be borne by the shipowners and Merchants trading in the Port of London which would be unreasonable seeing that the wreck is a legacy of the war.

(To be continued)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 14, 2010, 11:46:35
(14)   The Authority have acquainted the Ministry of Transport with the whole of the information in their possession on the question of the liability for the payment of the removal expenses.
(15)   The continued presence of this wreck in the Thames Estuary has long been a source of misgiving to the Port Authority since in bad weather conditions there is always the possibility of a ship going off her course and running into it.  Moreover it has recently been suggested - see paragraph (17) below - that the action of the bombs remaining in the vessel may be capricious.  Therefore the possibility if a mass explosion cannot be ignored, and this must be a vital concern to the admiralty having regards to the proximity of the wreck to Sheerness Dockyard and the town itself.  In this connection it must be borne in mind that the river bed in which the wreck and her cargo lies is Crown property.
(16)   In August, 1951, a suggestion was made that the Authority should take up two of three bombs from the wreck and deliver them to Sheerness for testing by Admiralty experts.  This suggestion was put to the Ministry of Transport who, however, replied that the Admiralty considered it inadvisable to remove any bombs from the vessel until it had been decided where they were to be examined and by whom.
(17)   The next development was the receipt of a letter dated 21st March, 1952, from the Admiralty.  In this letter, which contained the statement referred to above to the effect that the available evidence indicated that the behaviour of the submerged explosives in the vessel might well be very capricious, the opinion was expressed that the only safe course would be to presume that they were potentially dangerous if subjected to violent shock or nearby explosion.  The letter went on to say that salvage might be a hazardous job owing to the necessary disturbance of corroded metal parts.
(18)   Thereafter two meetings were held, one on the 7th May and the second on the 5th June, 1952, between representatives of the Admiralty and of the Authority to discuss the possibility of alternative methods of disposal of the wreck.  At the second meeting the representative of the Armament Research Establishment expressed his own personal opinion that the cargo ought to be removed.  The stowage plan of the cargo had been carefully examined and a programme for the discharge of the bombs were agreed, if in fact any discharge was to be undertaken at all.  It was generally agreed that it was a reasonably proposition and a risk which might well be undertaken to discharge some of the bombs from hold No. 1.  It is believed that some 475 tons of bombs still n the wreck are fused and care would have to be taken not to disturb these.
(19)   It was pointed out at the meeting on the Authority's behalf that the Authority could definitely not undertake the discharge of the cargo as their large war-time organisation has now been reduced to a domestic Mooring and Wreck-Raising Service maintained as an adjunct to the Port Authority's facilities.
(20)    It was stated on behalf of the Admiralty that if the Authority wished them to discharge the bombs it would be necessary for an official letter to be addressed to them on the subject.
(21)   The steps which it has now been suggested should be taken in the matter are as follows:-
(a)   The Admiralty, if satisfied after hearing the advice given by their technical experts that they would be safe to do so, should commence discharging the bombs from hold No. 1.  Before this can be done sand has either to be grabbed away or forced our by power jets to disclose the bombs.  The representative of the Armament Research Establishment, present at the second meeting mentioned above, stated that he would be prepared personally to be present when the first bomb was moved and to examine it on the spot.  The operation might, of course, prove a failure from the outset but if it were successful then consideration could be given to tackling the other holds.  The bombs might prove to be in a much better or much worse condition that had been anticipated and each subsequent move would be dependant upon the experience gained from the former move and the commencement of the work would not necessarily mean that the whole job must be completed.  If the Admiralty employed their own salvage vessels on this work presumably the cost would be borne by the Admiralty establishment and there would be no account to render to any party.
(b)   The cargo having been satisfactorily discharged the next step would be to arrange for the removal of the two halves of the hull of the vessel.
If the Authority undertake the work they will have to let a contract as they cannot release the whole of their Mooring and Wreck-raising Service for a job of this magnitude.  They might be prepared to place their two large camels (each lifting 1,200 tons) at the disposal of a contractor.  They must, however, protect the interests of the payers of rates and charges in the Port of London by being assured of the recovery of their costs.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 24, 2010, 17:01:55
S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY

Tonnage - 7225 gross, 4390 net.
2.   Casualty - Marine (i.e., not war).  Aground on East Nore Sands 20th August, 1944.  Distance 1.6 miles from Sheerness.  Vessel broke into two parts forward of bridge and is sunk deep into the sand.  It lies in a position exposed to winds from any direction.
3.   Owners of Vessel - U.S. War Shipping Administration, Washington.  (W.S. Branch was informed by telephone on 11th May, 1949, by the U.S. Maritime Commission in London that the wreck had been sold to Messrs. Phillips Kraft and Fisher of New York).
4.   Cargo - 6876 tons of bombs, detonators etc.  U.S. Army Air Ordnance (for U.S. Army in France).
5.   Salvage of part (some 3270 tons, including reported complete discharge of Nos. 4 and 5 holds) of the cargo was carried out by the Port of London Authority in August/September, 1944 for account of the Admiralty.
6.   The wreck, which is visible at all states of the tide, lies in waters under the Statutory jurisdiction of the Port of London Authority.  It is also in the Sheerness Dockyard Area.
7.   Before the wreck could be removed it would be necessary to remove all the bombs, etc.  This latter would be a long, hazardous and expensive operation.  No reliable estimate of cost can be given in the absence of a diving survey by D.B.N.S.
8.   D.N.D., with Hydrographer concurring, states 24th September, 1945, that the wreck is outside the main channel into the Medway and is no obstruction to vessels using it.  It is, however, in 11 ft. of water at low water springs and constitutes an obstruction or a danger to navigation for barge and other traffic which may be out across the shoals where depths allow.  At a meeting held on 7th May, 1952, the Port of London Authority agreed that the navigational risk resulting from the existence of the wreck was negligible.  They were, however, anxious to remove the wreck because they thought the risk of explosion of the cargo increased with the passage of time.
9.   On 16th June, 1946, the Admiralty asked C. in C. Nore to mark the wreck and a light beacon was accordingly placed on it.  Sheerness Dockyard fitted the light, which wa supplied by Trinity House on rental to the Admiralty.  The Port of London Authority were informed 12th August, 1946, that the wreck, which lies within the limits of sheerness Dockyard Port, would not be removed or the cargo discharged and that the Admiralty had given approval for a light beacon to be placed on the wreck.  Also, it was most improbable that the cargo constituted any danger provid
ed that no big explosion (such as that of a depth charge) took place in the immediate vicinity.
10.   Recently Ministry of Supply Armament Research and Admiralty explosive experts have considered the risk of explosion of the cargo and are of the opinion that if the fragmentation bombs, detonators and fuses, which form a considerable portion of the remaining cargo were disturbed during salvage operations there would be a grave risk of mass detonation.  They were unable to assess the risk of spontaneous explosion if the wreck is left undisturbed.
11.   In the United Kingdom it is the statutory function of harbour authorities to disperse or remove wrecks (other than those of H.M. Ships) in harbours or in the approaches thereto.  This function was not varied during World War II.
12.   By the Dockyard Ports Regulations Act 1865, the Admiralty, for the protection of naval interests, are also granted certain powers, including removal of wrecks, in waters and the approaches thereto of a Dockyard Port.
13.   The Treasury Solicitor advised, and has since confirmed, that the Dockyard Ports Regulations Act 1865 imposes no obligation on the admiralty to remove the wreck of RICHARD MONTGOMERY.  On the other hand Section 431 of the Port of London Act 1920 provides that whenever any vessel is sunk or stranded in any part of the Port of London, the Port Authority shall cause such vessel to be raised of blown up.
14.   It has also been ruled that neither the Admiralty nor a Queens Harbour Master is a harbour authority within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894.
15.   Treasury Solicitor minuted 6th December, 1945, and has since confirmed "if the proceeds of sale (of the arising from the wreck) were insufficient to cover the Port Authority?s expenses, they would be entitled to institute proceedings against the owner but it is one thing to be entitled to do so and another to be able to do so.  For example, there is a right to sue the owner of a ship but if that owner happens to be a Government who wishes to plead state immunity there is no redress".
16.   Although the Admiralty have removed a number if wartime wrecks of private ships from harbour authorities waters they have done so only under contract with those authorities and on a repayment basis.
17.   As regards the statements of Lord Waverley referred to in the First Lord's minute of 18th June, 1952:-
Paragraph 2(a) - the Admiralty did not take over all powers and responsibilities from the Port of London Authority during the war.  Although the Admiralty had certain wartime agreements with the P.L.A. these did not affect the P.L.A's statutory responsibilities as regards wreck removal.  Moreover, the Admiralty during the early days of the war decided against seeking powers under the Defence Regulations parallel to these already vested in harbour authorities etc., to disperse or remove wrecks within their jurisdiction.
Paragraph 2(b) - the Admiralty letter S.1105/45 of 12th August, 1946, confirmed too the P.L.A. that the wreck, although laying within the limits of Sheerness Dockyard Area, would not be removed or the cargo discharged.  The letter did not say the wreck should not be removed.
Its intention was to convey to the P.L.A. that the wreck, in waters under the Statutory jurisdiction of the P.L.A. would not be removed or its cargo discharged by the Admiralty in so far as they were concerned.
(Note:-  It is understood there was an arrangement come to in 1923 between the Admiralty and P.L.A. in the subject of the marking and raising of any wreck within the joint areas of the Admiralty and the Authority (Vis:-  Within the Dockyard Port limits, Sheerness) whereby the Q.H.M., Sheerness, would acquaint the Authority of any wreck in the Dockyard Port and if the Admiralty proposed to raise the wreck they would at once advise the Authority).
Paragraph 3 - As regards the remarks of Cdr. Brooks and Cdr. Stammitz at the meeting on 5th June, 1952, Cdr.
Brooks was referring specifically to the H.E. bombs whilst Cdr. Stammitz was talking as regards the bombs generally, of which the fragmentation bombs are believed to be fuzed.
Paragraph 5 - The difficulties or removing the unfused bombs are referred to in the Notes of the Second Meeting on 5th June, 1952, in P.O. 31495.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 28, 2010, 17:50:39
"Richard Montgomery"

I can advice you only as to the legal aspects of this matter and not as to the administrative action  you may take with respect to the P.L.A's request that the Admiralty should remove the wreck.
I understand from the papers that the wreck lies within the Naval Dockyard and also within the area of the P.L.A.  Mr. Lock has now advised the Department that the King's Harbour Master is now a Harbour or Conservancy Authority within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, and I think it is clear neither the King's Harbour Master nor the Admiralty is under any obligation to remove the wreck.  If the P.L.A. have formed the opinion that it constitutes a danger to navigation, they may incur liability too anyone suffering injury through the presence of the wreck, but this is not the Ministry's concern.  Indeed, as the Heads of Arrangement do not apply to the P.L.A., the Ministry have no legal interest in this matter at all.
The only other point that I can make is that it seems to be assumed that the U.S. Government would not submit to the jurisdiction or pay for the cost of removing the wreck.  I do not know whether H.M. Government take this attitude in respect of the wrecks of our ships which may be obstructing or a danger to the harbours of allied countries, but my impression was that in such cases we had in fact removed or paid for the removal of the wreck.  It is not apparent from the file whether or not an approach has been made to the U.S. Government.
W.S.A. have of course been abolished but their functions are at present performed by the U.S. Maritime Commission
 and if P.L.A. so desire, it might be possible for Mr. Walton to ascertain the lie of the land.  As you will see form my minute of 7th March, I believe that the position is not affected by the Knock-for-Knock Agreement or by any Lend/Lease settlement or waiver.  If you wish to put the position to Mr. Walton, I should be glad to assist you in doing so.

AWG Kean
17th May, 1950.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 29, 2010, 13:18:10
10/12/80
REAPPRAISAL OF THE STATE OF HAZARDOUS ORDNANCE IN THE WRECK OF THE SS "RICHARD MONTGOMERY"

Following cooperation between AMTE Experimental Diving Unit, PERME and the Us Navy EODFAC (1,2,3) the last named organization has carried out experimental sensitiveness tests to provide information relevant to the state of the more hazardous items in the wreck.  Their report (4) gives full details of this work and also gives answers to a number of questions raised by PERME concerning the packaging of the items and the consequences of their immersion in sea water.

A number of US Ordnance Department drawings relevant to the various ordnance  items and their packaging have been acquired at PERME, either from UK MOD Naval Law Division, from the US 3rd Air Force (through UK RAF WPN EGN4b), or from the US Navy EODFAC.  These, together with the EODFAC information, have enabled an assessment of the consequences of immersion to be made.  The limited amount of technical information available has meant that this study is not as complete as could be wished; nevertheless sufficient is available for useful conclusions to be drawn.

Considerations are listed below against the relevant ordnance items and a series of conclusions are drawn.

1   AN-M1A1 CLUSTER FRAGMENTATION BOMBS

These comprise a cluster of six 20lb TNT-filled fragmentation bombs type M41 assembled and packed on the cluster in the fuzed condition.  They are the most hazardous items in the cargo of the "Richard Montgomery".  Each cluster was packed in a metal-lined wooden box of exterior dimensions 134 X 27 X 32 (cm).
The fuze employed is the type AN-M110A1.

The fuze is potentially hazardous because it is an in-line stab-sensitive device, but more importantly because the type M13 detonator it employs contains lead azide, and is mounted in a gilding metal detonator cup holder.  There is therefore a possibility that in unfavourable circumstances copper azides may have been formed on the cup holder, increasing the sensitiveness of the fuze to mechanical shock.

More to come...
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 30, 2010, 11:41:39
The experimental assessment of this potential hazard by the US Navy EODFAC was carried out using type M19A2 detonators in simulated fuze bodies.  The type M19A2 detonator is similar to the type M13, but contains more lead azide (257mg compared with 213mg) and employs a gilding metal detonator cup (that of the M13 being aluminium).  The hazard is therefore somewhat greater than with the M13 detonator.  The M19A2 detonator is used in the other type of cluster fragmentation bomb present in the cargo, the (unfazed) AN-M4A1 (see below).

The most hazardous circumstance for the AN-M110A1 fuze is one in which the varnish seal on the detonator disc, of the detonator disc itself, is breached at a time when the fuze interior is at high relative humidity.  Hydrazoic acid formed by the resulting hydrolysis of the lead azide may, if prevented from diffusing into the external environment, react with the gilding metal to form copper azides.  However, EODFAC experiments shewed that M19A2 detonators exposed to 100% humidity were not sensitized, even though the exposure to the humidity was followed by drying for 24 hours prior to the sensitiveness testing.

Any copper azides which may have been formed in a period of exposure to high relative humidity would, in any subsequent prolonged exposure to liquid water, became steadily less sensitive, since it is well known that copper azides slowly hydrolyze in contact with water, being converted to successively more basic - and less sensitive - compounds.

If breaching of the detonator disc occurs when the fuze interior is filled with water in the liquid state, hydrazoic acid is again formed, but being highly soluble in water, will diffuse as far into the external aqueous environment as possible.  Any remaining within the fuze will again react with the gilding metal to form copper azides, but these would be subject to the hydrolysis described above.  The EODFAC tests also shewed that M19A2 detonators, even when exposed to liquid water containing an additional "fuze-equivalent" of hydrazoic acid, were not significantly sensitized.

Study of the drawings of the AN-M1A1 and its packing case shews that the case consisted of a wooden box containing a No 30 AWG tinplate liner.  A tinplate lid fitted into a channel formed around the top of the liner.  Enquiries made by EODFAC suggest that either luting, or a thin rubber gasket cemented to the inside of the lid, was used as a seal.  Such a construction would be incapable of immersion to more than a few feet of water without this liner and/or its lid buckling under the hydrostatic pressure, causing the lid seal to pull open and enabling the case to flood.  There would seem to be little doubt that all the AN-M1A1 cases left in the wreck when salvage was abandoned would have flooded either soon after the vessel sank or at the next spring tides.

More to come...
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 31, 2010, 13:21:29
Examination of the drawings of the AN-M110A1 fuze also shews that following immersion in water the fuze interior will flood.  Trapped air, because it is at a higher pressure than the partial pressure of the dissolved air, will dissolve and diffuse out.  The EODFAC estimate that this process would be complete is 6 to 12 months.

In view of the results of the EODFAC sensitiveness tests and of the high probability that all AN-M110A1 fuzes have been flooded for a very long time, it appears that the hazard presented by the AN-M1A1 bombs is now so small as to permit handling of these bombs given the normal EOD handling precautions and the maintenance of an aqueous environment.  This opinion is shared by the US EODFAC.

2   AN-M4A1 CLUSTER FRAGMENTATION BOMBS
These comprise 3 type M40, 23lb TNT unfazed fragmentation bombs packed on the cluster in a wooden transportation box similar to that for the AN-M1A1 bombs.  Three fuzes type AN-M120A1 each in a sealed metal can are also packed in the box.  The AN-M120A1 is a mechanical delay arming impact fuze.  In the unarmed state the M19A2 detonator is out of line with the booster and striker pin.

The sealed cans in which these fuzes were packed are stated by the EODFAC to be capable of withstanding a pressure of 4.5 atmospheres.  Thus, although the packing cases would have flooded on sinking in the same way as those of the AN-M1A1 bombs, the cans would have remained intact until breached by corrosion.  The time for this to occur is estimated by the EODFAC to be 1 to 2 years.

Following breaching of the cans the fuzes will flood, trapped air again requiring 6 to 12 months to diffuse out.  Since the booster cups are aluminium alloy die-castings they will corrode in contact with sea-water, ultimately permitting the booster and its lead to saturate.  This process may allow the fuze interiors to flood in a shorter time.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 15, 2010, 18:04:19
There is a possibility that cases stacked near the floor of the tween decks would have silted up before the fuze cans corroded through.  Since tidal flow in and out of the cases would have ceased after they flooded following sinking, silting within the cases would be a slow process, and it is likely that cans could still flood for some time after the cases became silted externally.  Nevertheless there must be a small possibility that some cases became so silted internally before the fuze cans corroded that insufficient water was present to saturate the fuze interiors.
Although in this case there is not as high a probability that all the fuzes have been flooded for a long time, the EODFAC sensitivity tests shew that any unsaturated fuzes will not be significantly sensitizes.  Again, therefore, it appears that, given reasonable precautions in handling, there is no reason why cases of AM-M4A1 bombs should not be moved if this were considered desirable.

3   MISCELLANEOUS FUZES IN NO3 T/D

Comparison of the Salvage Report, Loading Plan and Manifest shews that No3 tween deck was discharged save for 286 cases.  Although there is circumstantial evidence which suggests that these are all cases of AN-M100A2 tail fuzes (which would present negligible hazard), they could conceivably comprise any mixture of 8 different types of bomb fuze and 4 different types of primer detonator.
The most hazardous of these is the AN-M103 nose fuze which contains a 55g tetryl booster, two leads, a primer and delay column and an M20 detonator.  The M20 is similar to the M13 but smaller, containing about two-thirds as much explosive.  All metal parts of the M20 are aluminium, but the device is mounted in a brass slider.  There is therefore again the possibility of copper azide formation; fortunately the similarity of the detonator to the M13 together with its smaller size imply that the hazard will be at least no worse that with that device (which is itself less hazardous tan the M19A2 used in the EODFAC tests).
The AN-M103 fuzes are packed in metal cans similar to those used for the AN-M120A1 fuzes.  Each case contains 25 cans.  Flooding of the cases would have occurred upon sinking or shortly afterwards but the cans would only be breached by corrosion, in a similar manner to those of the AN-M120A1 fuzes.  Thereafter, flooding of the fuze interiors would have proceeded (unless limited by silting of the case interiors).
As with the AN-M120A1, it is likely that the AN-M103 interiors flooded more rapidly than would have occurred by dissolution of the trapped air alone.  The AM-M103 booster cup is screwed to a steel fuze body, and dissolution would have been enhanced by electrolytic action.  When the cups were breached, water would saturate first the booster and its lead and then the slider and detonator space.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 16, 2010, 09:19:42
The other devices which may be present in No3 T/D contain no boosters, the explosive weight per device ranging from 0.36g up to 0.95g, save for a single case of 100 type M16A1 primer detonators which contain 2.13g per device.  All types save one use the M17 detonator, which is again similar to the M13 and contains slightly less lead azide that the M19A2.  The exception is to nose fuze type AN-M126A1 which uses the M28 detonator, the contents of which are not known although since it is used to initiate a smoke bomb it is liable to be an igniter type formulation.  Detailed drawings of most of these devices are not held by PERME, but it is very likely that they contain copper alloy components and copper azide formation is therefore a possibility.
All the devices are packed individually in metal cans; 25 cans per packing case for the fuzes and 100 per case for the primer detonators.  In the latter case the 100 cans were packed 25 per metal box, 4 metal boxes per packing case.  Flooding would occur only after the metal boxes and cans had corroded through, and in the case of the primer detonators this could take 3 or 4 years by which time they could have been silted.
There would seem to be a high possibility that most of the fuzes flooded, but it is not so certain that the primer detonators would have achieved this state before silting up.  In view of the fact that all devices contained detonators containing less lead azide that the M19A2, and that all detonator part were of aluminium rather that gilding metal, the EODFAC tests again shew that the chances of any flooded fuze being significantly sensitizes are negligible.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: seafordpete on November 16, 2010, 10:19:16
Doesn't your report show that water ingress has rendered most fuzes inoperable?  I may have misread it as it is a massive document but as i see it it indicates most items will have water damage. ie little public risk
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: busyglen on November 16, 2010, 12:06:03
I've been reading this with great interest, as (like a large number of people) we have been sitting on this `time bomb' for years.

I also am a bit confused, especially by the contradictions that seem to be occurring in these documents.
Quite possibly I am misunderstanding the technicalities, but in one part it seems to be saying that there could be problems with the deterioration of some of the bombs, and another says the water would render them inactive. (My words).

My feelings are that such a long time has elapsed, that if they `had' been hazardous, they would have gone off by now, but of course I am no expert!


Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 16, 2010, 12:40:58
It does seem to contradict some of the findings, maybe that is because the silting will slow down some of the corrosion and water ingress?

That is what it said seafordpete, I thought you were saying that you had all been led to believe that it was still a danger...
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: seafordpete on November 16, 2010, 13:38:48
Yes we were told it was still virtually intact and a high risk, the report suggests it is getting neutralized by silting, water ingress and corrosion
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 22, 2010, 18:57:14
4   CONCLUSIONS

4.1
Study of the packaging of the various ordnance items in the tween deck spaces, together with information supplied by the US Navy EODFAC (4), leads to the conclusion that most of the fuzes became flooded internally within 1 to 2 years of the sinking and are now either non-functional or not significantly more sensitive that in the normal state.
4.2
The experimental sensitization tests carried out by the US Navy EODFAC were not carried out with actual fuzes (no remaining stocks were found).  They were, however, performed using the detonator type containing most lead azide of all types present in the wreck, and using an assembly in which any copper azides would be formed on the detonator itself rather than on more distant parts less likely to transfer initiation to the detonator.  They shew that any of the fuze types in the wreck which may have escaped flooding will not be significantly more sensitive that in their normal state.
4.3
None of the ordnance items present in the tween deck spaces of the wreck is so sensitive as to preclude handling by EOD personnel taking all the precautions normally used with ordnance of these types.  This does not imply that any of the items in their present situation are necessarily accessible to such handling.
4.4
Normal diving operations around and within the wreck will cause no hazard of explosion provided that impacts to the tween deck cargoes, whether direct or transmitted through the structure of the wreck, are avoided.
4.5
Any future survey of the wreck by divers should seek to establish among other things, and if the degree if silting permits, the following:-
a)   Whether the hatch covers, both deck and lower, are removed from all holds.
b)   Whether tween deck cargo is stacked over any lower hatch covers still in place.
c)   The extent and nature of the silting in the tween decks and lower holds.
d)   Whether any cargo remains in No 4 tween decks.
e)   The structural soundness of the lower decking.
4.6
If a diving survey shews the hatches to have been removed, and is in other respects favourable, consideration can be given to the possibility of discharging No 1 hold (i.e. both L/H and T/D), and Nos 2 and 3 lower holds, leaving the fragmentation bombs and fuzes in Nos 2 and 3 tween decks undisturbed until the total explosive mass is small enough to present no hazard of a large scale explosion.

S.J. Hawkins
MOD (PE), PERME Waltham Abbey
10/12/80
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 22, 2010, 21:19:00
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_0675Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_0674Large.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 26, 2010, 19:39:29
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_0677Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_0676Large.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 27, 2010, 18:55:38
SS RICHARD MONTGOMERY - SURVEY REPORT
INTRODUCTION

1.   The USS RICHARD MONTGOMERY, a liberty ship of 1,176 Gross Registered Tons, Official Number 243756 of the design type EC2 - S - C1 grounded on Sheerness Middle Sand, broke her back and sank on 20 August 1944.
2.   Surveys were carried out on the wreck in 1965 and 1972 to determine her condition.  At the request of the Department of Trade, the Ministry of Defence (Navy) conducted another such survey this year, which took place over the period 25 September - 8 October.

AIM
3.   The aim of the survey was:
a.   Diving Survey.
To establish by visual and if possible photographic inspection;
1.   The present condition of the hull
2.   Whether any movement has occurred in the wreck since the 1972 survey.
3.   The extent of cargo spillage, if any, through breaks I the hull.
4.   The condition of the masts and heavy lift derricks stowed vertically against them.
b.   Structural Work.
   To remove safely the anti-torpedo net side booms.
4.   The operation was under the control of the MOD(N) Medway Area Mooring and Salvage Officer who had been associated with the two earlier surveys on the wreck.
5.   The structural survey began on the superstructure and upper deck of the after section.  It was combined with identification of strong points to which to attach temporary mooring pendants on which to secure the salvage vessel during boom removal operations.
6.   Underwater visibility was found to be no more than two of three inches due to the amount of suspended matter in the water.  With the exception of one tide, this was not improved upon throughout the operation.
7.   It was found that the condition of the upper deck and bulwarks on both sections of the wreck was good enough to permit the use of the wrecks' own fairleads and mooring bitts for securing the salvage vessel.
8.   Examination of the after mast and torpedo net boom gooseneck areas indicated general structural soundness, with isolated areas where a block or shackle swinging in the tideway had caused wear and accelerated corrosion.
9.   During the second day a test videotape recording was made under the direction of the Salvage Officer at the monitor.
10.   Replay of these recordings enabled the Salvage Officer to brief the divers on the boom cutting operation with great accuracy.  It also helped the divers to confirm theirs survey reports, ass definition by video recording was better than with the naked eye while underwater.
11.   Survey diving continued on every slack water affording daylight and suitable weather conditions, but three consecutive days were lost due to severe weather during the first weekend.
12.   On the fourth day the starboard after anti-torpedo net boom was slung and cut away on the high water slack.  The remaining three were similarly removed on suitable high water slack periods.  The shoal conditions around the wreck prevented this work being carried out at low water.

THE CONDITION OF THE WRECK
13.   The superstructure amidships, which is twixt wind and water at low water, has deteriorated considerably since the last survey, with nearly half of the upper bridge decking disintegrated, mainly at the after end.  The fore and aft bulkhead on the port side has also lost one plate from the framing aft.  It is possible that the general weakening of this light scantling structure could lead to collapse of at least the after part in two or three years.
14.   The general condition of the remainder of the hull appears little changed, but no thickness testing was possible in the time available.
15.   There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that the part of the forward section forward of the foremast has broken and listed to port.
16.   The fissure on the port side in way of No. 2 Hold was relocated.  A position check shows it to be some fifteen feet aft of the position reported in 1972.  This is the only crack on this side, not an additional one.  It extends from the mud-line outboard, through the sheer strake and bulwark, across the deck to the hatch coaming on the post side of No. 2 hatch.  The crack continues up the hatch coaming, completely severing it at this point.  The crack or fissure is straight up the ships side and across the deck between two and four inches wide.  It is believed to be in way of oxidising area of a structural weld.  Despite a very careful search on the starboard side opposite the crack, no evidence could be found of its continuing across the ship.
17.   A particularly detailing check in way of the small fissure previously reported in the starboard side of the shell plating opposite the crack failed to relocate them.  Slight buckling or rippling of the shell in this area was reported.
18.   The fissure in way of the engine room starboard side remains unlocated, probably due to a rise in seabed level, but there is buckling of the shell plating in this area.  No new areas of buckling or splitting were located.
19.   Measurements between the forward and after sections in way of the original break show no movement since the last survey, the two parts remaining thirty feet apart.
20.   There has been an increase in the angle of heel of the forward section to 17° to starboard and an increase to 13° to starboard in the heel of the after section.
21.   There is no other evidence of movement since the previous survey.
22.   There is no sign of spillage of cargo from the vessel.
23.   Although some fifty percent of the lowermast shrouds have now parted, the masts are probably the strongest part of the wreck.  They are likely to remain safe until the hull itself ceases to support them.  Indeed, close examination of the net booms after cutting up confirms that severe corrosion occurs only in way of physical disturbance of the surface by abrasion.  Those areas already corroded and overgrown but undisturbed have suffered a loss of no more that one fifth of the original thickness.  Apart from those areas where electronlitic action may have occurred, and none has been identified so far, it is reasonable to believe that a similar pattern exists throughout.
24.   It is not considered necessary to remove the masts and such action would be unwelcome to most of the authorities involved with the wreck.  At present the masts give the only visual indication of the position of the wreck at high water.  Once the centre superstructure disintegrates they will also be the only marker at low water.
25.   The two derricks stowed vertically at the forward and after masts are still in good condition, but the hous
ing clamps are showing signs of deterioration.  The forward one is much more robust that the after and will outlast it by several years.  In due course it may become necessary to consider removal of these derricks.  Meanwhile, each has been secured to the mast table behind it with wire preventer lashings for safety.
These wires will require to be replaced in about two years.

SUMMARY
26.   The wreck remains in two pieces thirty feet apart with a slightly increased list.  There is no sign of cargo spillage.

INFERENCE
27.   The very slow increase in list of two degrees in six years is not in itself significant.  The slight increase in width of the crack in way of No. 2 Hold and its extension to include the hatch coaming suggest a very slow hinging of the forward section in this region about its starboard side.  This theory is supported by the buckling of the shell plating on the starboard side opposite the crack.  Future surveys will show whether this is continuing.

RECOMMENDATIONS
28.   Although the hull gives no cause for concern generally, it is recommended that a further survey be carried out in about two years time to check known delicate areas and to obtain plate wastage measurements.
29.   As deterioration increases it is recommended that the time allocated to future surveys be increased to three or four weeks to allow for adverse weather and more detailed examination of representative areas of shell plating.


?. Evans
For DIRECTOR OF MARINE SERVICES (NAVAL)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on December 06, 2010, 14:42:13
Superintendant of Diving
AMTE Experimental Diving Unit
c/o HMS Vernon
Portsmouth
Hampshire

Department of Trade
Marine 3B
Flag Officer Medway
20 February 1979
SS RICHARD MONTGOMERY

1.   Following on the meeting reported in the Reference the opportunity was taken during a visit to the Naval Explosives Ordnance Facility, Indian Head 5 to 9 February to discuss the problem of recovery of ammunition from the RICHARD MONTGOMERY.
2.   For reasons stated in the Annex, it is the opinion of US experts that little or no risk exists from the cluster bombs.  This reasoning can be expanded in detail from sectioned drawings of the fuses at the meeting which has been called for 7 March 1979.
3.   The EODFAC have offered, if asked officially, to age one of each type of fuse to the condition of these fuses in the wreck, i.e. after 35 years immersion in salt water.  This is achieved by a factor of time and temperature in water of identical salinity and oxygen content; by maintaining the fuses in water at a temperature of 160°c for 9 months the condition of the fuses in the ship can be accurately forecasted.
4.   It is intended to ask that this experiment be carried out whatever immediate decision concerning the wreck is reached.  This work will be conducted under the Exchange Group ABCA-5, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and related diving.
5.   The Flag Officer Medway is requested to make the following available for collection for onward routeing to the EOD FAC by this office:
(a)   5 gallons of sea water taken from the vicinity of the wreck at high water.
(b)   5 gallons of sea water from the same position at low water.
(c)   A similar quantity of water taken when local experience may show conditions to vary markedly in salinity.
(d)   The mean annual water temperature in the vicinity of the wreck is also required.
A.G. Worsley
Commander Royal Navy
Superintendent of Diving
UK Project Officer ABCA-5
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on December 18, 2010, 17:36:45
20 February 1979
CLUSTER BOMBS IN SS RICHARD MONTGOMERY
Introduction
1.   These bombs and their related fuses of US origin have been stated by UK experts to be so sensitive due to copper azide deterioration as to preclude any attempt to remove the ammunition from the ship.  This view is not shared by US authorities for the reasons stated below:
Case 1.   Cluster fragmentation bomb (AH-M4A1) 100lb size.  Consisting of 3 each bombs fragmentation TNT 23lb (AN-M40A1) backed in wooden bopx with arming wire and 3 each fuse AN-M120 in hermetically sealed cans.
FUSE AN M120
2.   This is an impact fuse with a mechanical delay arming mechanism.  In the unarmed state the detonator which contains less that 1 gram of explosive, including lead azide, is not in line with the booster and evens should it fire would not explode the primer.  In order to be in a dangerous state the following would have had to occurred:
a.   The cotter pin through the arming pin would have had to corrode through in less time than the arming pin spring.  (highly unlikely).
b.   Should the arming pin spring have been active the timing mechanism could not be corroded if it were to function (highly unlikely).
c.   If the timing mechanism were active the detonator slide would have to be free of corrosion (highly unlikely).
d.   As lead azide corrodes and copper azide is formed the material expands, it is considered that this would jam the detonator slide even should the slide spring be operable.
e.   Finally, the striker spring would have to be corrosion free.
3.   USN experience has shown that the springs corroded first in all cases.
4.   The M-120 fuse fitted with the detonator only is used in EOD training to provide a "bang" when a mistake is made.
5.   In the unlikely event of these fuses being live the maximum weight of explosive involved is 23 gram tetryl and lead azide.
Case 2.   Cluster fragmentation bomb AN-M1A1 100lb size consisting of 6 each bombs fragmentation TNT 20lb AN-M41 or AN 41A1 with fuse bomb nose AN-M110A1 FUSED.  Each packed in metal lined box.
Note:  Metal lining was tin foil.
Fuse AN M110A1
6.   This is a worse case than the previous one.  The fuse is a vane armed, impact, direct action instantaneous nose fuse.  The detonator contains less than one gram of tetryl and lead azide with 17 grams of tetryl as the primer.  The detonator and striker are in line.  However, the following events would have had to occurred to make the fuse live:
a.   A cotter pin holding the vane from turning would have had to have corroded through but see b. below.
b.   No reference is made to arming wires in this case but it would be against all US policy, even in war, to tranship bombs with arming wires in place.  The presence of a cotter pin is therefore assumed.  If not, then the arming wire would have had to corrode through.
c.   The arming sleeve, movable gear, stationary gear and ball bearings would have to remain corrosion free.  (Unlikely due to dissimilar metals, aluminium, steel and brass.)
d.   The arming vane would have to be turned through 260 revolutions to arm the fuse.  (This would not be achieved by water action even in the worst possible case).
e.   The striker spring would have to be corrosion free.  (Highly unlikely).
7.   Risk from premature explosion due to copper azide is thought by USN authorities to be small.  However, their opinion is that the sensitivity of the azide compounds becomes worse with time rather than better, even in a salt water environment.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 11, 2011, 11:53:26
Procurement Executive, Ministry of Defence
Propellants, Explosives and Rocket Motor
Establishment (Waltham Abbey)
Powdermill Lane WALTHAM ABBEY Essex EN9 1BP

The Superintendent of Diving
ANTE Experimental Diving Unit
HMS Vernon
Portsmouth
Hampshire.
6 April 1979

Dear Cdr Worsley

As arranged at the DOT Marine Division meeting of Mach 7th, I am writing concerning the offers of assistance you have obtained from the US EODFAC on the problems of the "Richard Montgomery", as outlined in your minute of the above reference addressed to DOT Marine 3B.  Not having seen your minute until the meeting, it is only since then that I have had time to study it properly and become more fully aware of its significance.
First, I do not think that any UK authority has suggested that accidental "normal" functioning of any of the fuzes in the remaining cargo is possible and hence a source of hazard.  From mu own study of the construction of the AN-M110A1 and AN-M120A1 fuses, I would agree with the US EODFAC opinions on this point expressed in paras 2 and 6 of the Annex to your minute.  UK opinion has always considered that the real hazard is that associated with copper azide corrosions on copper or copper alloy components in close proximity to the detonator and booster charges; it therefore differs from the US opinion referred to in para 7 of the annex.
Dealing with the fuzed M1A1 assemblies first, there can be no reasonable doubt that individual M41 bombs and complete but unboxed M1A1 clusters fitted with the aluminium-bodied AN-M110A1 fuze and exposed to open sea-water, would suffer complete dissolution of the fuze body in a time less than 35 years.  With dissolution of the fuze body, the arming gear, firing pin and firing pin retaining plate will fall away leaving the detonator parts exposed.  When this happens, dissolution of the detonator closing disc, detonator cup, booster closing washer and booster cup will, if it has not already occurred, proceed until both detonator and booster fillings saturate with water.  However, if as seems likely, AN-M110A1 fuzes can flood (see below) then sea-water attack on the detonator parts would begin almost immediately following immersion, in which case saturation of the fillings would be expected to occur in a period considerably shorter than 35 years.  If flooding cannot occur, those fuzes having the cadium-plated steel body would appear capable of remaining in a dangerous state for a very long time indeed.
It is my opinion  that only when the detonator and booster fillings have become saturated with water that these fuzes
can be considered safe, since only then is there no chance that accidental detonation of any copper azide layers could initiate the booster and hence the main TNT filling of the M41.
With M1A1 assemblies in flooded transportation boxes, the same considerations as for unboxed stores would apply, although the time-scales for dissolution processes would be increased to an extent dependant upon the exchange flow-rate of sea-water into and out of the boxes.
Part at least of the remaining M1A1 boxed assemblies in the wreck have, however, been heavily silted for a long time, and other questions therefore concern the behaviour of the clusters in this condition.  Of crucial importance are questions as to whether all the boxes would have flooded when the 'tween decks flooded, and whether the fuze interiors would also have flooded following flooding of their boxes.  If the answer to these questions is yes, then there is I believe a real possibility that despite subsequent silting that all the AN-M110A1 fuzes are now safe, and have been for a very long time.  If the answer is no, because for example some of the boxes could have withstood the ambient water pressure until they were so silted up that sea-water never got into the fuze bodies, then there must remain doubts about the state of the fuze interiors.
Examination of US Ordnance Dept. Drawings 76-16-262 through 76-16-265 suggests that if the interior metal liner lids within the transportation boxes were not sealed on with luting, then the boxes would have flooded within minutes of immersion, whilst if they were so sealed they would only have flooded if submerged to a depth sufficient to open the seal by buckling of the metal liners.  The design of the liner strongly suggests an intention to seal them but no mention of a luting seal is made on the drawings.
US Ordnance Dept. Drawing No 73-8-77 (Revision 9 dated 9-6-45) shows that in the AN-M110A1 fuze the main interior space (above the firing pin retaining plate) should flood easily via the annular space provided for the firing pin spring.  It appears likely that the detonator space could also flood via the annular clearance between the firing pin and its retaining plate, although this would only be complete when the trapped air had dissolved into the water.
Questions concerning the M1A1 assemblies on which the US EODFAC could give valuable guidance and/or experimental assistance are therefore the following:-
1   Can the interior of the AN-M110A1 fuze flood upon immersion in water, and if so how long would it take any trapped air to dissolve?  How long after this would it take before the detonator and booster fillings became saturated with water?
2   Were the metal liners of the transportation boxes sealed, and if not was there anything that might have prevented the boxes flooding quickly upon immersion?
3   Following the flooding of a transportation box with sea-water, how long would it be before all six detonator and booster fillings became saturated if there were no circulation of the water?
4   If a transportation box did not flood immediately after immersion, but remained sealed until the surroundings were heavily silted so as completely to cover the box, what would be the likely sequence of events when the metal box liner eventually corroded through?
5   Were any of the AN-M110A1 fuzes in the cargo of the "Richard Montgomery" manufactured with the cadium-plated steel alternative fuze body?
6   Was gilded metal in fact ever used for the detonator cup holder in the AN0M110A1 fuze as stated in Drawing 73-8-77A?  If so, can it be ascertained whether any such fuzes were present in the cargo of the "Richard Montgomery"?

The last question is, of course, inspired by your own suggestion that there are reasons for believing the answer to be no - in which event the hazard presented by the M1A1 bombs is non existent.
Turning to the M1A1 assemblies, these were packed unfazed but with the three AN0M120A1 fuzes stowed in the transportation box.  Since these fuzes were packed in hermetically sealed cans some unknown period of time would have had to elapse before the cans corroded through and allowed the fuze bodies to be subjected to sea-water (or silt).  Drawings 73-8-138 and 73-8-143 show these fuzes to have contained several brass components as well as gilding metal detonator cup and closing cup.  There appear to be no spaces through which these fuzes would readily flood when immersed in water, but since the fuze bodies were not hermetically sealed, water vapour would permeate the fuze interior following the eventual breaching of the cans and the probability of azide corrosion would therefore seem to be high.
Although in the uncorroded state it may well be as US EODFAC state (your Annex, para 2) that initiation of the detonator while the fuze is in the out-of-line (unarmed) condition will not initiate the booster charge, in the present case it is necessary to know whether this would remain true in the presence of copper azide corrosion around the slider and, more particularly, on the closing cup.
Since the booster cup of the AN-M120A1 fuze is of aluminium-based die-casting alloy with a wall thickness of about 1.8mm, immersion of the fuzes in open sea-water would lead to breaching of the cup in a comparatively short time, where-upon the booster filling would saturate and the fuze therefore become safe.  Unless the time taken for the cans to corrode through is short compared with the time it took the 'tween decks to silt up, however, the fuze bodies may have been surrounded by silt rather than sea-water and the sequence and time-scale of events is then uncertain.
Questions which the US EODFAC may be able to answer or to assist with are therefore:-
1   What hydrostatic pressure could the hermetically sealed cans in which he AN-M120A1 fuzes were packed withstand?
2   How long would it take these cans to corrode through following flooding of the transportation boxes?
3   Would the transportation boxes readily flood upon immersion?
4   How long would it take for the booster cups to corrode open after the cans were breached and filled with sea-water?
5   How long would it take for the booster cups to corrode open after immersion to estuarine silt?
6   With the fuze in the unarmed condition, and with copper azide corrosion assumed present on the slide and on the closing cup, would initiation of either the detonator or for the corrosion layers lead to detonation of the booster?
I regret that this letter has, because of other commitments, taken so long to prepare, but I would be happy to discuss further any of the issues raised either by correspondence of by visiting you, and to assist in any other way possible.

Yours sincerely

S J Hawkins

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 13, 2011, 10:55:43
Health & Safety Executive
Mrs J King
Marine Division
Department of Trade
Sunley House
90 High Holborn
LONDON WC1
4th September 1980
Dear Mrs King

"RICHARD MONTGOMERY" - US NAVY (NAVEODFAC) REPORT
You wrote on 8 May with a request for comments on the NAVEODFAC report.  I have now been able to study the report in greater detail, but there are still a number of points which must be answered before a firm conclusion can be reached.

I mentioned in my letter of 10 June that there wee some gaps in the information available from the papers on our file.  Since then you have sent us a cope of Commander Worsley's letter to CBNS Washington of 30 April 1979.  This is helpful as it sets out the specific questions which were put to NAVEODFAC.  However, the papers which we now have still seems to be incomplete; in particular there is nothing which indicates why Commander Worsley's original proposal (in his letter of 20 February 1979) was altered so extensively when he wrote to CBNS Washington.  I would be grateful of copies of any papers you may have which are relevant to this, please.

Turning now to the report itself, closer study of this has tended to confirm my first reaction to it.  The experiments described in the report provide data on the likely state of cluster bomb fuzes exposed to certain conditions.  But this information is of limited use because we still have no knowledge of the environment to which the fuzes in the "Richard Montgomery" have been exposed.  The report does provide some information about the effects of sea water flooding, pressure, and tidal cycles on the munitions as packaged for transport.  But the information does not provide a complete picture, and some of the specific questions posed in Commander Worsley's letter of 30 April are not fully answered by NAVEODFAC.  For example, no information is given on the effects of silt covering the boxes of cluster bombs, which by restricting the flow of water might slow down changes taking place in the fuzes.

Having said all that, I think that the total effect of the new information is encouraging; I remain unconvinced that it is safer to move the bombs than to leave them for a further period but certainly the new information warrants further discussion.

I have a query on the diving survey proposals discussed at the Working Party meeting on 7 March 1979.  This meeting discussed the results of the most recent diving survey of the outside of the wreck, and it was agreed that a further survey should be carried out inn two years time (ie in 1981).
The meeting also considered proposals by Fathom-Line for an internal survey of the wreck.  It was felt by many of those present that an internal survey would be dangerous.  However there was agreement that MOD should be asked to devise such a survey (on paper) and your Department was given the task of setting out the aims of this survey and clearing them with members of the Working Party before approaching MOD.  Since this meeting in March 1979 we have heard nothing; I would be grateful if you could confirm that no action has in fact been taken on either of the proposals for diving surveys.

Yours sincerely
E.G. WHITBREAD
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: shoot999 on January 28, 2011, 16:59:12
The ? Evans who signed the above report was the Chief Salvage Officer within the DMS organisation. This organisation included the RMAS (sea-going tugs), PAS (the dockyard tugs and associated vessels); and D606 which was the salvage ships and salvage organisation.
I worked with this organisation from the 60s to 2005 and on a yearly basis we used to inspect the bouys surrounding the wreck, and every couple of years, replace them.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 28, 2011, 17:08:38
Did you have any safety instructions given to you when you went out to check the buoys?
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: shoot999 on January 29, 2011, 16:31:30
No specific instructions. Our work was always varied; Torrey Canyon, HMS Fittleton, Fastnet, etc. So this particular job was pretty run of the mill.
I worked on that particular job throughout the late 60s and 70s and the two vessels we worked off were RMAS Kinloss and RMAS Felstead. Both based at Chatham.
Whilst press reports on DMS's activities usually described those employed within DMS as being 'navy', the whole organisation was civilian manned. All privatised now, except for a few Salvage Officers and the Admiraly Pilots at Devonport, Portsmouth and the Clyde.
As an aside around the same period we; in conjunction with the army, had to disable the forts on the estuary to stop them being used by the pirate radio stations. Not a job any of us youngsters were happy about doing!
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 11, 2011, 14:10:50
NAVAL EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL FACILITY
INDIAN HEAD, MARYLAND 20640

From:  Commanding Officer, Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Facility
To:  Chief of Naval Operations

Subj:  S.S. Richard Montgomery, anticipated munition hazards

1.   Reference (a) requested assistance in determining hazards associated with fuzes and fuzed ammunition remaining in the cargo holds of the S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY; reference (b) tasked the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Facility (NAVEODFAC) to provide pertinent information relative to hazards associated with the fuzed AN-M4A1 bomb clusters (Case 1) and the AN-M120 fuzes packed with AN-M40 or AN-M40A1 fragmentation bomb clusters (Case2).
2.   Case 1 – Answers to questions noted in reference (a) are:
a.   Interior of the fuze AN-M110A1 can flood on immersion and it is estimated that the air would dissolve in approximately six months.  Testing (see enclosure (1)) has been conducted to evaluate the hazards associated with the formation of copper azide through reaction of the lead azide present with the copper detonator case.
b.   Information suggests that a thin rubber gasket or luting seal was used on the boxes to provide a barrier to moisture at atmospheric pressure.
c.   If the transportation box has collapsed or leaked tidal circles would probably saturate the fuze assembly in six to twelve months.
d.   The metal liners of the boxes were approximately .03 inches thick, the low grade steel liner would probably corrode in one to two years.
e.   No information on the use f cadmium-plated steel fuze bodies is available.
f.   Gilding metal was possibly used in the AN-M110A1 fuze.
3.   Case 2 – Answers to questions noted in reference (a) are as follows:
a.   The sealed cans in mint condition are capable of withstanding a hydrostatic pressure of 4.5 atmospheres.
b.   The fuze cans would probably corrode in one to two years after the transportation boxes flooded.
c.   It is considered either the seal would leak or the liner would corrode within one or two years.
d.   One-two years exposure to sea water would result in corrosion of the detonator assembly and decomposition of lead azide/copper reaction products.
4.   The technical study and accelerated aging studies conducted on detonators placed in simulated fuze bodies are details in enclosure (1).  The general conclusions are that copper azide does form and that given sufficient time the copper azide would be degraded.  The conditions of fuzes can only be determined by recovering fuzed bombs and examining them.  Te results indicate that if there is any residual copper azide in any fuze, flooding or 95 percent humidity would desensitize it.  This fact suggests that if all the bombs were kept in an aqueous environment, they could be safely moved providing normal EOD precautions were observed.
5.   In order to validate the laboratory studies detailed in enclosure (1), an examination of the cargo on the S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY may be required.  It is recommended that if fuzed bombs are removed from the S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY that they be remotely disassembled and examined.  The visual observations made at NAVEODFAC in the mechanism of copper azide formation (see enclosure 1)) should, through pictorial correlation, enable an assessment of any unusual explosive hazard to be made.

Lionel A. Dickinson
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 11, 2011, 23:00:43
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_0681Medium.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 14, 2011, 14:04:10
LETTER REPORT ON TESTING OF THE
M19A2 STAB ACTION DETONATOR

29 FEBRUARY 1980

NAVAL EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL FACILITY
INDIAN, HEAD, MARYLAND 20640

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

NAVEODFAC in response to a request from the Royal Navy conducted a low cost testing program to determine the sensitivity of the M19A2 after exposure to an accelerated aging environment.  The result of these tests are as follows.
1.   Copper azide forms when the detonator is exposed to hydrazoic acid in the vapour state.  Two of five detonators exploded when dropped from six feet.  The increased cavity volume on detonation indicated the contribution from the copper azide.
2.   No detected copper azide was formed while the detonators were submerged underwater.  The detonators became less sensitive after exposure to liquid water even after being allowed to air dry.
3.   The physical change due to copper azide formation (a black deposit) or to leaching of the detonator (a white residue) or dissolving out (a cavity) of the detonator are readily apparent on physical examination.
As a result of these tests, the NAVEODFAC recommends that attempts be made to recover a small number of munitions.  The munitions would then remotely disassembled to validate the results obtained in the laboratory.  Part 2 of this report recommends techniques and associated hardware for remote removal of the fuze to gain access to the detonator.  Examination of the detonator should provide information to determine if and how the bombs can be safely removed and help establish the handling procedures required for safe disposal.

Introduction

In response to a request from the Royal Navy, the NAVEODFAC performed a series of tests to determine if a safe, practical method for removal of the fuzed fragmentation bombs from the holds of the SS RICHARD J MONTGOMERY were possible.  Of particular concern was the formation of copper azide by the action of lead azide decomposition products on the gilding metal in the detonator case.  The tests were to determine the sensitivity of the M19A2 Stab Action Detonator after exposure to an accelerated aging test.  A parallel effort (reported separately) was done to determine alternate methods to remove fuze components to expose the detonators in rounds that may be recovered from the holds of the MONTGOMERY.  The second effort was done to provide a method for validating the information developed in the laboratory using live rounds from the ship.

Background

The two areas of concern with the sensitivity of the M19A2 Stab Action Detonator are:
1.   The gilding metal of the detonator will react to form copper azide.  If copper azide were formed, the sensitivity of the detonator could possibly be greatly increased to the point where recovery of the rounds would present too great a hazard.
2.   Either the safety collar or the fuze body could be corroded to the point that the firing pin could be driven into, and thereby set off, the detonator even if copper azide were not formed.
With these two points in mine, an approach was formulated to resolve both of the areas of concern with two sets of experiments.

Defining the Experiments

During consultation with personnel from NAVORDSTA, Indian Head; Naval Surface Weapons Center, White Oak; Picatinny Arsenal and Hercules Corporation, the following opinions were given.
1.   Reports were available providing the rate of formation, as a function of temperature; methods to form and safely dispose of; and methods to detect and quantitatively measure copper azide.
2.   Copper azide is most likely to form on copper components when a relatively small amount of water is present and the hydrazoic acid is present in the vapour state.
3.   Lead azide that is “adequately” dried and pressed will not form copper azide on adjacent copper parts (when protected from moisture) even though they have been exposed for periods in the 15-20 year range.
4.   Any copper azide formed n the detonator should be sufficiently desensitized by liquid water that it can be handled safely.  Handling problems can occur (including spontaneous detonation) if the detonators are allowed to dry out.
It was decided that experiments should be conducted with the detonator exposed to the following four environments:
1.   High relative humidity (water vapour)
2.   High relative humidity (water vapour) with synthetically generated hydrazoic acid
3.   Water with synthetically generated hydrazoic acid
4.   If environments 1 through 3 produced sensitive detonators, water alone would be run (it was not necessary to use this because of the results of the tests conducted).

Calculations were made to determine the accelerated aging temperature and time that should be used to allow for quatitive formation of copper azide at ambient temperatures.  The calculation temperature was 43°C for one week.  It was further determined that if water could freely enter and exit the fuze cavity, the following amounts of water would be required to dissolve the energetic compound:
1.   2.3 liters of water will dissolve 100% of the copper azide formed if all of the lead azide were decomposed to hyrdazoic acid which then formed copper azide.
2.   1.3 liters of water will dissolve 100% of the lead azide if it were not decomposed but simply leached from the detonator.
Both values appear to be possible because the fuze is open to the environment around the firing pin.  Since hydrazoic acid is at most infinitely soluble in water, any exchange of water due to tidal of other actions would tend to carry the hydrazoic acid away from the reaction site as it is formed.
Since the decomposition of lead azide may be slower than postulated, it was decided to expose the detonators in environments 2 and 3 to additional synthetically generated hydrazoic acid equal to the decomposition of 100% of the lead azide was present.  This may not be realistic but together with environment 1 would definitely provide bounds for the problem.

(TBC)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 19, 2011, 21:28:37
The disposal method selected for any excess azide was to react it with cerium ammonium nitrate.  All unreacted hydrazoic acid and dissolved azides would be reacted in the aqueous state with a 15% solution of cerium ammonium nitrate.
All of the calculations mentioned in this section are contained in Appendix A.

Preparations for the Experiments
Since the M19A2 Stab Action Detonators are no longer available, a special lot of 20 units was fabricated.  The aluminium block wit detonator cavity spit hole was fabricated to the dimensions detailed in the fuze drawing.  The M19A2 detonators were pressed into the cavity.  The waterproofing cover was the stripped remotely using a lathe and special tool.  One detonator detonated during this operation.  Since the operation was done remotely, no unacceptable damage resulted.
A test plan was approved detailing the experiments to be performed, layout of the test equipment, and drawings and reports that went into the evolution of the test plan.  Appendix B is the plan.
The last items to be constructed were firing pins, springs, and alignment blocks to be used for firing the detonators after exposure to the test environment.

Conducting the Experiments
The plan and Assignment for Conducting Experiments (PACE) (Appendix B) was carried out exactly as planned.  The main difficulty during the experiments at Building 6 was that the lids of the plastic containers were difficult to remove by remote operation.  The problem was attributed to the creation of a partial vacuum when the samples were allowed to cool after removal from the oven.  Returning the samples to the oven and opening the container while warm alleviated the problem.  All samples were handled remotely from the control room.
A daily journal of the results was written and is included as Appendix C.  The entire operation was video taped and narrated.  The eight tapes were edited to one tape containing all of the experiments.  This can be further edited as required.

(TBC)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 11, 2011, 20:39:29
Results:

A summary of the test results follows:

1.   Water desensitized all detonators including those exposed to twice the theoretical amount of hydrazoic acid that could be formed if all the lead azide decomposed.  After drying for 24 hours, none of the detonators exposed to 100 percent relative humidity without artificial hydrazoic acid (environment 1) of to water with hydrazoic acid (environment 3) detonated on the six or eight foot drop tests.  If any copper azide was formed, it was insufficient to cause the M19A2 Detonator to detonate during the drop tests.
2.   The detonators desensitized by high relative humidity water vapour (environment 1) could not be detonated by driving the firing pin into the detonator.
3.   Four of five detonators exposed to water with externally generated hydrazoic acid (environment 3) did not fire after the following test sequences:
(a)   Exposure if the detonators to water with hydrazoic acid (environment 3) at 43 °C for one week.
(b)   Drying the detonators in air for 24 hours.
(c)   Driving the firing pin into the detonators.
4.   Sufficient copper azide was formed when the detonators were exposed to hyrazoic acid in the vapour state (the detonators were not submerged) so that two of five detonated on the six foot drop test.  The remaining three detonated when the firing pin was actuated.
The detailed results of the firings are contained in Appendix D.  Results include:

Measurement of the volume of the detonator cavity after firing,
pictures of the detonator blocks before and after firing, and
pictures of firing pins that have penetrated the detonator without setting off the detonators.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 15, 2011, 13:04:25

Constraints on Interpreting the Results

Tests were conducted to obtain data as the first step in the process of safely removing ordnance from the SS RICHARD J. MONTGOMERY.  For purposes of conducting the tests, aspects of the actual environment in the hold of the MONTGOMERY that were not addressed and should not be inferred from this experiment include:

1.   The ability of water to enter and exit the fuze cavity, and
2.   The absence of or the amount of silt covering the ordnance and altering access to water,
3.   The extent of corrosion of the fuze and the components that make up the fuze,
4.   The integrity of the detonator waterproofing seal.

Variables that could affect detonator conditions include water temperature, water salinity, dissolved oxygen, presence of corrosive chemicals,, and presence of bacteria.  These variables may have changed in an unknown manner over the last 35 years.  These factors were not taken into account in the laboratory.
The tests were limited in number because of the funding limitation.  These tests indicate that trained, qualified personnel should be able to safely handle the rounds.  In order to validate the findings of this experiment, a second test series is recommended.  These tests would be run on rounds recovered from the MONTGOMERY.

Conclusions

Copper azide can be formed most readily when the hydrazoic acid is in the vapour state.  When detonator is submerged in liquid water the formation of harmful amounts of copper azide was not detected.  Testing has indicated that the detonator will tolerate more rough handling when it is wet than had been predicted prior to testing.  Even after being exposed to very large amounts of hydrazoic acid, the detonators did explode except when hydrazoic acid was transported in the vapour state.                                                                                       *^(not???)

If the fuze cavity has been filled with water for a long time, the bomb is most probably safe to move.  A water filled cavity has the following advantages:

1.   The detonator is desensitized by water.  Once the water seal is negates soluble compounds are leached.
2.   Water soluble compounds such as hydrazoic acid and potassium chloride which are very soluble and copper azide and lead azide which are much less soluble will be removed from area of the detonator.
3.   If any copper azide is present it should be desensitized by a water film.  Furthermore, any ordnance item that has been submerged under water pressure should be kept wet as a general safety precaution to minimize crystallization as the round dries out.

*   Handwritten on page

TBC…
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on May 12, 2011, 17:38:15
3.   If any copper azide is present it should be desensitized by a water film.  Furthermore, any ordnance item that has been submerged under water pressure should be kept wet as a general safety precaution to minimize crystallization.

Recommendations

1.   Conduct exploratory dives to recover and examine up to 20 rounds from the top layer of munitions.  During the dives, the following items be noted:
a)   Position and attitude of the ordnance.  A nose-up attitude will provide the highest probability that the fuze cavity is flooded.  Their position will also indicate the extent to which the exchange of water into and out of the fuze may have occurred.  It is recommended that the first round that is disassembled have a high probability that the fuze cavity was flooded.  Subsequent rounds may proceed to potentially more hazardous orientations.  Before the disassembly tests are completed, rounds that are representative of the entire hold should be examined.
b)   Presence of a safety collar. If the collar is not in place, a safety device has to be attached to prevent the firing pin from moving into the detonator.  An alternate procedure would be to remove the firing pin.  Care should be exercised not to pull the striker off the firing pin instead of pulling the pin.
2.   The following procedure is recommended for removal and disassembly:
a)   Raise the rounds from the hold with a surface supporting lifting device and bring them to the surface (but not out of the water) one at a time.  Contingency plans should be made to handle two or more rounds that may be corroded together.
b)   Submerge a container below the surface of the water and gently place the ordnance in the container without removing the ordnance from the water.
c)   Place the water filled container and ordnance on a work platform.  The fuze is to be kept underwater while being removed from the ordnance is at all possible.  A water spray will be acceptable if it is impractical to work in shallow water.  In any event, the round should be prevented from drying out.
d)   Remotely remove the fuze from the ordnance (see Appendix E) and visually examine the fuze to determine:
(1)   Integrity of the waterproofing seal.  If the seal is missing, determine how much of the detonator is remaining.  Laboratory testing indicated that a cavity is formed as the detonator is dissolved.
(2)   Evidence of leaching of the detonator.  Laboratory testing indicated that a white deposit formed due to leaching.
(3)   Corrosion and /or color of the gilding metal.  Black discoloration of the gilding metal was an indication of the formation of copper azide during the tests conducted at NAVEODFAC.
e)   Following visual examination and interpretation of results, establish proper procedures and conduct remote drop tests (wet and dry) similar to the NAVEODFAC tests.  Attempt to initiate the detonator using he firing pin as was done at NAVEODFAC.
f)   Analyze the test results and use them to formulate an operational procedure to remove all ordnance from the SS RICHARD J. MONTGOMERY.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on May 15, 2011, 12:48:09
WORKING PARTY MEETING ON THE WRECK OF THE S.S RICHARD MONTGOMERY AT CHURCH HOUSE, LONDON SW1, 7 MARCH 1979

Present:-
Department of Trade
Mr J S H White (Chairman)
Mr W L Stow
Mr J W Robson

Ministry of Defence
Cdr A G Worsley (Superintendent of Diving)
Cdr J E C Allen (Flag Officer Medway)
Dr N J M Rees (Chief Safety Officer)
Mr D Bloy (Navy)
Mr S T Spooner (RARDE)
Mr S J Hawkins (ERDE)
Mr J Smith (Navy)

Health and Safety Executive
Mr E G Whitbread
Mr R R Watson

Medway Ports Authority
Capt D Gibbons
Mr D Stoyles

Port of London Authority
Capt D A Roberts

Hydraulics Research Station
Mr L J Jaffrey

1.   The Chairman opened the meeting by explaining the recent events relating to the Richard Montgomery.  The MoD had completed a survey of the wreck the previous summer and a report of the survey was now available.  In addition, Sir Bernard Braine, M.P., had continued to take an interest in the wreck, and had inspired Fathom Line Limited to become involved.  The Department had met and corresponded with Fathom-Line, and papers relating to this had been circulated to the meeting.  It would be useful to have the Working Party’s views on these developments, and on future policy relating to the wreck.
2.   On the diving survey, Mr Bloy said that he had little to add to what was in the Report.  The side-booms had been removed, the wreck was still in two sections, there was no sign of any cargo spillage, and the fissure on the port side was increasing.  He felt that there would be a need for a further survey in two years time; the wreck could start to deteriorate quite quickly.  In further discussion the following additional points emerged:-
(i)   The lower hold was still covered, but No.2 hold was open;
(ii)   The fissure was travelling at about 1” per year.
The Chairman agreed that, in the light of these remarks, there should be a survey in two years time.
3.   The Chairman then asked for the Working Party’s comments on the views expressed by Fathom-Line, and on Cdr Worsley’s letter of 20 February, which had been circulated to the meeting.  Fathom-Line were proposing an internal survey and, if this proved feasible, the removal of the safe parts of cargo.  The following points were made on the Fathom-Line proposals, and the associated papers:-
(i)   Mr Watson said that HSE and MoD now more or less agreed on the effects of an explosion of all the cargo.  HSE now accepted that an explosion could be more serious than they had earlier estimated.  Dr Rees said that any estimates of damage had to take into account that many of the houses in Sheerness were not new and these could be much more severely damaged.  He felt that in the right meteorological conditions the blast could even blow out windows in East London.
(ii)   Working Party members agreed that the risks of trying to move the cargo were still unacceptable.  An internal survey could be equally dangerous, ass it would be necessary to remove the silt, and this would disturb the explosives.
(iii)   Mr Hawkins thought that it might be possible to use the empty No. 5 hold to test the feasibility of the Fathom-Line proposals.  This would permit a closer examination of the internal condition of the wreck and would give a better idea of the likelihood of collapse of the whole hull.  It would also be possible to check on the degree of silting.  Mr Smith had some reservations even about a limited survey of this kind, as there could be a danger of disturbing explosives.
4.   The Chairman suggested that as a preliminary step, the Department could ask the MoD to devise an internal survey.  This was agreed.  The Department would set down what they felt a survey should be aimed at achieving, and clear this with members of the Working Party, before putting proposals formally to MoD.
5.   In discussion on the letter from Cdr Worsley and the EODFAC offer, the following points were made:-
(i)   There was some doubt about what any experiment could show.  It was quite likely that the fuses alone at the end of the simulation period would be completely inert.  It would not be possible to determine at what point the fuses had become sensitive.  The experiment would prove nothing.
(ii)   On the other hand, Mr Hawkins felt that the experiment might provide some useful information if it were properly designed, and if the conditions in the wreck could be simulated as closely as possible.
6.   It was agreed that the experiment might be useful.  Mr Hawkins would liaise with Cdr Worsley on what to suggest to the Americans.
7.   The Chairman concluded by saying that he would report the results of the meeting to Ministers, and by thanking those present for attending.

Department of Trade
Marine Division
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on May 25, 2011, 19:04:08
HAZARD DUE TO EXPLOSION OF CARGO OF SS RICHARD MONTGOMERY

1.   Weight of Explosive Present in Wreck
From the papers of the meeting held in 1952 I have been able to find that the following weights of TNT are present in the holds of the SS Montgomery:
Hatch No. 1Hatch No. 2**Hatch No. 3*Hatch No. 4**Hatch No. 5
316,000314,500365,0006,000None
374,00091,800222,500--
466,000322,200216,200--
189,000313,700300--
1,345,000n 20,000804,000--
-n 20,000---
-1,082,000---

Thus the Total is 3,237,000 lb, i.e. approximately 1445 tons of 1,620 short tons.
Note that * indicates 300lb initiating material present in hold, and
** that more than 300lb initiating material present in hold.

2.   Quantity Likely to Detonate
Since bombs containing initiating material are present in large quantities in two of the four holds, it would appear probable that if an explosion does occur, then it will propagate from hold to hold.  However to be certain of this is very difficult.  For the purposes of discussion it is probably best to consider complete detonation; this is the worst case.
3.   Effects of the Explosion – Air Shock Wave (Figure 1)
1 kt shallow U/W explosion (p, d) data from Effects of Nuclear Weapons ‘6 is used to give an estimated curve for 1450 tons TNT.

P Psid1 milesd2 miles1.47 = Scale factor
1 kt1450 tons TNT
150.0610.090
100.1050.155
80.1330.196
60.1740.257
40.2520.372
30.3280.483
20.4950.730
1.50.6650.980

4.   Effects – Water Waves (Figure 2)
The height of the waves scales as W1/2 for depths of 85 ft; for depths less than this
Hd=h85 (d/w ¼)
Thus the wave height will depend on the state of the tide.

1 kt1,500 Tons
Wave Height Crest to Trough Feet.Distance Miles.Wave Height Feet.Scale Factor w1/2=1.78
3.315.9
1.923.4
1.041.78
0.6270.8
Scale depth = 85 w ½ = 85 x 1.34 = 113ft.
For 60 ft the wave height is reduced by half i.e., proportional to depth.

5.   Effects – Shock Waves in Shallow Water (Figure 3)
A 1 kt shallow U/W explosion gives rise to the following peak pressures.
The water was 66 ft deep.

P Psi x 103d1 milesd2 milesScale Factor = 1.47
1 kt1450 Tons TNT
80.0590.087
60.0680.100
40.0830.122
20.1280.188
10.1960.288
0.80.2250.331
0.60.2670.392
0.40.3370.495
0.20.4900.720

6.   Effects – Ground Shock
The area of damage is up to a distance of 3 times crater radius from ground zero.  In this case the crater radius is 300ft and the distance beyond which no damage is to be expected is about 900 ft.  However the explosion would be felt as a sciesmic disturbance up to a several miles away from the explosion.
7.   Effects – Base Surge
This consists of a wave of dense cloud formed of water droplets formed by the explosion.  It will start to form 6 to 8 seconds after the explosion.  It will billow upwards to attain a height of 600 ft and move outwards at an initial speed of 60 mph.  Within about 3 minutes it will be about 2 ½ miles across and about 1200 ft deep.  At this stage it will probably rise slowly from the surface of the water.  The water in the cloud may fall as heavy rain for some time afterwards.
8.   Effects – Damage at Sheerness and Southend (Figure 1)
(a)   Sheerness – This will primarily be due to airblast, the overpressure to be expected in the town (2 statute miles distant) being 0.7 psi.  Windows will be broken, some doors damaged, depending whether they are open or shut, roofs damaged and some ceilings brought down.
Casualties will be secondary but some damage to ear drums might occur.
(b)   Southend and Shoeburyness – Again damage will be due to airblast; the distance of Shoeburyness to the wreck is 4 miles and the expected overpressure of 0.35 psi.  The distance to the centre of Southend (bottom Pier Hill) is 5.4 miles and an overpressure of 0.25 psi is to be expected.  The damage will be mainly to unsecure or old windows and ceilings.  Some casualties due to flying glass should be expected.

9.   Effects – Long Distance Air Blast Propagation
If any wind or temperature inversion conditions are present in the atmosphere at the time of the explosion, then anomalous long range propagation effects can be expected to occur, and focussing of sound energy at distances of several tens of miles from the site of the explosion must be expected.  Thus under suitable conditions the sound of the explosion it would be reasonable to expect the explosion to be heard in London and beyond.  If serious focussing occurs then damage to insecure windows and ceilings must be expected at large distances from the explosion.



N.J.M. Rees
19th October 1964
AWRE,
Foulness,
Southend-on-Sea,
Essex.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on May 31, 2011, 18:07:29
CONFIDENTIAL

DRAFT SUBMISSION TO DOT MINISTERS

RICHARD MONTGOMERY

The RICHARD MONTGOMERY was a US Liberty ship which ran aground in 1944 about 1 ½ miles off Sheerness; she had on board 7,000 tons of ammunition of which half was salvaged.  The remainder is still on the wreck.  Most of the explosive is TNT, which is stable unless detonated but does not deteriorate in sea water.  It is not dangerous in itself, but there are a small number of fused bombs with detonators, which are now unstable to an unknown degree (although the explosives experts think they may have deteriorated t the point where they are no longer dangerous).  There is therefore some risk, perhaps not great but certainly not to be ignored, that there might be an explosion.  How big it might be is impossible to say.  In the worst case there could be loss of life.

2.   The results of a 1981 diving survey, which involved both internal and external examination of the wreck, confirmed tat the wreck is still reasonably sound and is containing the cargo, which is now covered by a heavy layer of silt in all holds except the one which was broken up when the ship ran aground.  In the light of this it was concluded that the risks involved in trying to remove the explosives still entailed an unacceptable chance of detonating the cargo.

3.   It was also concluded that there should be a further diving survey of the wreck this summer to check the condition of the wreck and the surrounding seabed and that there should be some work on resecuring the derricks to prevent them collapsing.  Arrangements have now been made for this survey to take place from 30 June to 13 July.

The wreck continues to be a cause of local concern and it has long been the practice to keep the Members concerned informed about any actions on it.  I therefore attach draft letters to the Members concerned giving them notice about the survey.  There is no need for an announcement on this as the position is adequately covered by Mr Sproat’s reply of 25 November to a question from Roger Moat, MP.

B A Lister (Mrs)
MAR3A
Room 4/10 Sunley House
2816 490

May 1983
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 01, 2011, 15:09:02
RICHARD MONTGOMERY
Note by the Department of Trade


BACKGROUND

On 8 April 1981 the Working Group (ODU(S)(HW)(81) 1st Meeting) invited the Department of Trade to arrange, with the Ministry of Defence, for the wreck of the RICHARD MONTGOMERY to be surveyed externally and for an internal survey to be conducted to determine the amount of silting and the degree of slackness in the cargo.  The Department of Trade was further invited to report to the Working Group once the survey reports were available and to include recommendations on a report to Ministers.

THE DIVING SURVEY

2   The survey was conducted between 20 July and 24 August 1981 in accordance with a specification drawn up by the Director of Marine Services (Navy) in consultation with the Department of Trade and the Health and Safety Executive.
The report by the diving survey team says that the cargo in the tween decks of both No 1 and No 2 hatches is completely covered by silt but that the level of silting in No 3 tween deck is lower and that some of the ammunition is still visible.  In the aft section of the wreck No 4 and No 5 tween decks are completely silted.  (Divers could not gain access to any of the lower decks).  The survey also noted some deterioration in the hull, particularly the growth of the fissure across No 2 hatch, indicating that the forward section of the wreck will split in two eventually.  If this were to happen it is likely some ammunition would fall out.  The Department therefore sought further advice from the Ministry of Defence and from its own ship surveyors on how long the hold might stay intact and on how long the jumbo derricks would be safe.

3   In response the Director of Marine Services (Navy) reported that the fissure across No 2 hatch (which had remained stable from 1965 to 1978) had increased in width from 10 cm maximum in 1978 to 15 cm maximum in 1981 and that the edges had moved by 7.5 cm relative to each other.  The Director concluded that this necessarily indicated further deterioration in the structure of the forward part of the hull, and in particular movement on either side of the split, but that it would be unwise to suppose the movement would continue at a steady rate: it depended largely on the tidal scour around the wreck and it was impossible to predict when, or whether, the relative movement of the two parts of the forward section might become critical.  The Director considered that the jumbo derricks would probably be safe until the summer of 1983.  After that the wire stays fitted in 1981 would be dangerously rusted and the derricks might fall.  But their collapse would not damage the wreck very much, and the vibration it would cause would be no worse than that caused by bad weather of the winter of 1981.

4   The Director and the Department’s ship surveyors think that the crucial factor governing the growth of the fissure across No 2 hatch will be the stresses caused by the scouring of the seabed around the wreck: there is no way of stopping it, and eventually the wreck will break into three sections.  The uneven settling of the ship on the seabed, the pressure of silt on the port side and the working of the ship in the tides during the winter gales, will all assist to the same end.

MEDWAY PORTS AUTHORITY HYDROGRAPHIC SURVEY
5   The Medway Ports Authority undertook a hydrographic survey of the area around the wreck last summer.  This does not suggest that the posture of the wreck is likely to change dramatically but it is not easy to be sure.  If the wreck broke into three parts (because of the growth of the fissure) and if any part turned on to its side (because of the scouring) the extent to which the silt in the tween decks would stop the ammunition falling about would depend on the suddenness of the shift, the depth of sit and the way the ammunition is secured.  All these are unknown.  For what it is worth, however, any movement of the fore part of the wreck will be apparent from above the surface by the change in angle of tilt of the foremast and jumbo derrick.

STATE OF THE AMMUNITION
6   The survey deliberately avoided any examination of the ammunition and there is no new evidence on its state.  It was the Working Group’s earlier view that there remains a small but unacceptable risk of detonation of the cargo should it be disturbed.

SECURITY
7   From the end of 1982 the Medway Ports Authority will be limiting its patrols in the area of the wreck to the hours of 8 am and 5 pm from Monday to Friday.  (This reflects the large reduction in shipping movements following the closure of the BP oil terminal).  A 24-hour patrol could be provided by the Authority after the end of 1982 at an additional cost estimated at £140,000 pa.  The Authority, however, have undertaken to maintain 24-hour radar surveillance of the wreck and could send a launch to it within 45 minutes of call-out through the week.  The Working group is invited to agree that this degree of surveillance is sufficient.

CONCLUSIONS
8   The diving survey report recommends:
(a)   annual checks on the condition of the jumbo derricks;
(b)   a diving survey this summer to monitor any further deterioration on the split of No 2 hatch;
(c)   consideration of whether the next full survey, at some unspecified time, should obtain more data on the depth of silt in the tween decks of the forward hatches.

The Department notes that little danger is likely to result from the collapse of the derricks; it concludes therefore that it would not be justifiable to undertake annual surveys of their condition and that the derricks should be dealt with as necessary in the course of the more extensive surveys from time to time.  The Department would be reluctant to commission a further diving survey this year, only 12 months after the previous report; there is no evidence that the pace of change is very rapid and the Department recommends, therefore, deferring the next diving survey to 1983.  The Department is doubtful whether any useful purpose would be served in seeking to establish the depth of silt in the tween decks of the forward hatches and therefore recommends against undertaking this work.

9   The Working Group is invited to endorse these recommendation to re-affirm its earlier conclusion (para 6) that the ammunition should be left undisturbed; to endorse the Department’s conclusion (para 7) that the reduced surveillance of the wreck by the Medway Ports Authority will be acceptable; and to report to Ministers accordingly.

Department of Trade
28 April 1982
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 02, 2011, 20:59:58
NOTE OF MEETING WITH FATHOM-LINE LTD.  RE.  THE ‘RICHARD MONTGOMERY’ 14 NOVEMBER 1978.

Those present:
Mr J S H White (Chairman)   Dept of Trade
Mr W L Stow         Dept of Trade
Mr J W Robson         Dept of Trade
Mr E G Whitbread      Health and Safety Executive
Cdr G Worsley         MOD (Navy)
Mr J Smith         MOD (Navy)
Mr R A P King         Fathom-Line Ltd
Mr P Cobby         Fathom-Line Ltd
Mr J Grattan         Fathom-Line Ltd

1.   Mr White opened by explaining the background to the meeting.  Sir Bernard Braine MP had long had an interest in the wreck of the Richard Montgomery and had recently written to the Minister about Fathom-Line, suggesting that they had considerable expertise which could be useful to the Department in considering what to do about the wreck.  The Minister had asked officials to follow this up and to report back to him.
2.   Mr King said that Fathom-Line had been recently founded as a Commercial diving consultancy.  It had three ex-naval personnel as Directors and sound financial backing.  They had been advising Sir Bernard Braine about the wreck and had come to rather different conclusions to those of the Government.  There were two basic ways of looking at the problem.  The Government’s view, briefly stated, was that the explosives were getting less dangerous over time.  However, they could still be sensitive and it was best to leave them well alone.  The alternative view was that they were getting more dangerous and that the balance of risks suggested that the cargo should be removed now.  Fathom-Line strongly took this second position.
3.   Mr Grattan spelt out this balance of risks.  On the one hand, there were a number of factors which suggested that it was dangerous to leave the wreck where it was, and that this danger was increasing:
(i)   The explosives on board were well past their ‘shelf life’, and were likely to become less safe over time.
(ii)   The explosives would still be effective.  If one bomb went off, there was a fair chance of virtually the whole lot detonating.
(iii)   There was a day-to-day risk of collision with the wreck.
(iv)   The wreck itself was bound to deteriorate.  The hull would begin to collapse, and the bombs could fall from one level to another.
(v)   There was the terrorist risk.
On the other hand, Fathom-Line believed that the risks involved in removing the cargo were minimal, provided the job was done by experienced personnel.  Similar operations had been carried out in the past without mishap.
4.   In reply Mr Whitbread made the following points on Fathom-Line’s assessment of the dangers.
(i)   The ‘shelf life’ problem was not serious.  The great majority of the explosives were very stable and would not present a problem.  If these were all that was on board then he would have long ago recommended a salvage operation.  The problem was with the fused cluster bombs.  These were subject to a particular chemical reaction which made them very sensitive indeed.  This sensitivity would reduce over time as sea-water got into the fuses.  But the whole process could take anything up to 50 years.  In the meantime, any disturbance of the bombs could lead to a complete detonation.
(ii)   In his view, the risk to Sheerness was not very high.  There would, on the worst assumptions, be broken glass and minor structural damage.  Admittedly there would be much more serious consequences for any nearby shipping.  These risks had to be balanced against the fairly high chance of a salvage operation resulting in detonation, because of the sensitivity of the cluster bombs, and the salvage personnel being killed.
5.   Mr Stow added that he understood that there could not be a major collision with the wreck because the water around the wreck was too shallow for large ships to come near.  The surveillance arrangements were good, though they could not be made foolproof.  There was also general agreement that the terrorist risk was very low.
6.   Fathom-Line challenged Mr Whitbread’s assessment of the effects of an explosion.  They believed that an explosion would be felt up to 6 miles away and that the ground shock could, for example, crack pipes on the Isle of Grain.  Mr Whitbread pointed out that houses could be sited closer to a magazine of an equivalent size to the Richard Montgomery than Sheerness was.  This was an indicator of the rough magnitude of an explosion.  So was the detonation of the ‘Kielce’ off Folkestone ten years ago.  This had been slightly further from the coast but had contained more explosive.  It had caused only very minor damage in Folkestone.
7.   Fathom-Line also felt that the risks of collision had been understated.  They had reports, for example, that a boat had passed between the masts.  Mt Stow said that there had been a number of allegations of this sort over the years.  Nevertheless, the Medway Ports Authority – who kept the wreck under 24-hour surveillance – had not corroborated them.  A collision, especially by a small vessel, could not be totally ruled out, but the wreck really was very well protected.
8.   There was then a discussion on the way a salvage operation might be carried out, and the danger associated with it.  Fathom-Line said that there would be very little risk in removing the GP bombs.  The hatches would be taken off and any silt and mud sucked out.  The bombs could then be lifted clear, with proper precautions.  The cluster bombs could be left entirely.  This would still greatly reduce the risks posed by an explosion.  It seemed likely that the cluster bombs would still be in their teak racks, and these would be in a good condition.  The operation could therefore be carried out with a minimum of disturbance to the cluster bombs.  Clearly, if the cluster bombs were mixed up with the others, it might well be decided that the risks of a salvage operation would be too great.  A thorough survey of the holds would therefore be necessary first.  Fathom-Line believed that the operation could be carried out with less disturbance to the bombs than would be caused by the ordinary movements of the wreck and of the tides in a storm.  Cdr Worsley agreed with this assessment.
9.   Fathom-Line said that over half the cargo could be got out of No 1 hold.  Mr Whitbread pointed out that this would not dramatically lessen the risks of a subsequent explosion.  The risks of the operation must be weighed against the gains.  A fairly high proportion of the bombs would have to be taken out before the risks of an explosion to Sheerness were lessened substantially.  He continued to feel that a salvage operation would inevitably pose a considerable risk of disturbing the cluster bombs and detonating the whole wreck.  For instance, the silt would have to be mechanically sucked out and this was bound to cause disturbance.
10.   Mr King said that an internal survey of the wreck would allow a much more accurate assessment to be made of the risks of salvage.  Such a survey could show how far the holds were silted, and perhaps the position and condition of the cluster bombs.  A low-light TV camera could be used, which would involve no disturbance to the cargo.  The MOD representatives agreed that such a survey could be very useful.  The external surveys of the wreck could only give information on its general state.  An internal survey was an essential preliminary before the possibility of a salvage operation could be assessed.  If the hold was shown to be full of silt, then the risks would be too high.  But if the hold was clear, and the bombs neat and tidy, a salvage operation could be carried out with low risk.  Mr Whitbread said that he would need cast-iron assurances that there would be no disturbance before he could give his support even to a TV survey.
11.   Mr White summed up the discussion by saying that he would report the results of the meeting to the Minister and would let Fathom-Line have a note of the meeting. The Department would give further detailed consideration with its expert advisors to the possibility of a TV survey of the interim of the wreck.  He would keep Fathom-Line in touch with developments.

Marine Division
December 1978
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 03, 2011, 22:07:15
Notes on Hazard due to Explosion of cargo of ss Richard Montgomery

1.   The damage to housing outlined in the note refers to new, well built properties.  In the case of older type construction, e.g. early 11 ½” cavity walls, structural damage may commence when the blast reflection pressure on the wall is as low as 0.5 psi (i.e. 0.25 psi incident).  It is certain that at reflection pressures of 0.75 psi (i.e. 0.375 psi incident) and above structural damage will be done to sound older buildings using lime/cement mortar in their construction.  In the case of buildings that are not in sound repair damage will start at lower pressure levels than these.
2.   The Isle of Grain Oil refinery requires special attention.  Industrial steel frame buildings clad with corrugated iron or aluminium sheet will withstand incident blast pressures of up to 2 to 3 psi without serious damage, but if clad with asbestos-cement sheets or other brittle materials damage will probably commence at an incident pressure level as low as 0.1 psi incident.
3.   It is our normal practice not to allow personnel to be exposed to expected blast waves, of short duration, or amplitude greater than 0.1 psi incident unless they are wearing protective ear coverings.
4.   From the statement of effects it seems clear that some damage to older houses must be expected at the 0.25 psi incident pressure level, corresponding to a distance of 5.5 miles.  There is also the possibility of missile throw up to a distance of about 1 mile.  Damage to the middle ear is possible at pressures of 0.1 psi incident and above, corresponding to a distance of about 3 to 15 miles from the explosion.  This latter distance would, therefore, appear to be a prudent evacuation radius from the site of the ship, should an explosion be imminent.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 09, 2011, 17:57:14
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_07321Large.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 09, 2011, 18:30:19
This matter is becoming complicated.  In late January Mr. Stanley of the Port of London Authority telephoned to D.B.M.S. to say that a Mr. Connolly of Messrs. G. Arnold and Co. (London) Ltd., of Waterloo Place, S.W.1., had been in touch with him on behalf of an Italian Salvage firm, Messrs. S.I.R.M.A., in connection with salvaging the RICHARD MONTGOMERY.  D.B.M.S. agreed to see Mr. Connolly.
At this meeting D.B.M.S. pointed out that the question of salvaging the RICHARD MONTGOMERY had been thoroughly thrashed out previously and advised Mr. Connolly to write to the Port of London Authority if he wished to proceed any further in the matter.  This Mr. Connolly did, having been in touch with his principals in Italy in the meanwhile.  At the same time, he sent a similar letter headed G. Arnold and Co. (London) Ltd. dated 5th February, 1954, to D.B.M.S., enclosing the remarks of Messrs. S.I.R.M.A.  This letter and enclosures from S.I.R.M.A. are attached.  An acknowledgment has been sent.
In the meanwhile, the correspondences between Colonel H.E. Hazlehurst, the Port of London Authority, and the Ministry of Transport, was received by D.B.M.S. (11th February).  There is little doubt in D.B.M.S.’s mind that the enquiries from G. Arnold and co. and Colonel Hazlehurst are connected.  The similarity between colonel Hazlehurst’s letter of the 29th December and the letter from S.I.R.M.A. enclosed by G. Arnold and Co. can be seen at once.
S.I.R.M.A. Salvage are obviously unaware that some of the fragmentation bombs in RICHARD MONTGOMERY are said to be fused and, therefore, highly dangerous, not only to the Salvors but also to Sheerness and nearby oil installations.  In back papers it will be seen that, in the opinion of C.I.N.O., and the Home Officer Explosives expert (Dr. Watts), this ammunition is particularly dangerous.  The confidence of this Italian firm that this cargo of ammunition presents no difficulty is, in D.B.M.S.’s view, ill founded.  Their knowledge of explosives, judging from their letters, is not particularly great.  For instance, they speak of salvaging torpedoes fitted with warheads.  This, of course, presents no difficulty at any time if the pistols are not shipped.
Apart from the question of liability for the costs of removal, it is considered that adequate insurance cover by a commercial contractor for all possible risks arising during the progress of the operations would be difficult, if not impossible to obtain, either through Italian of any other underwriters.
As, however, liability for removal has not been mutually agreed, it was proposed the reply to Messrs. Arnold should be to the effect that the Admiralty is not in a position to engage the services of a contractor for the disposal of the RICHARD MONTGOMERY’s cargo.
Will Head of G.F.II please remark of, if preferred, take action regarding sending a reply.
Neither G. Arnold and Co., nor Colonel Hazlehurst, as far as D.B.M.S. can find out is known in the Salvage or Underwriting world.

DIRECTOR OF BOOM DEFENCE & MARINE SALVAGE.
February, 1954
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 09, 2011, 22:48:12
3 April, 1954

Sir,
I am commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to refer to Mr. Connolly’s letter GA/JW dated 5th February, 1954 to Captain R. C. Watkin, Director of Boom Defence and Marine Salvage, Admiralty, and to inform you that the ammunition in the wreck RICHARD MONTGOMERY is a much more difficult proposition than your clients seem to think – so difficult that the Port of London Authority, who are legally responsible for the removal of the wreck, have accepted H.M. Government’s advice that it is safer left alone.  My Lords cannot, therefore, conscientiously advice your clients to pursue their idea of removing the ammunition.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

(Sd.) Nigel J. Abercrombie
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 10, 2011, 17:30:36
Arnold & Co. (London) Ltd.

5th February, 1954.

Captain R. C. Watkin,
Director of Boom Defence & Marine Salvage Admiralty,
Rex House, Lower Regent Street,
LONDON, W.1.

Dear Sir,
 You will no doubt recall that recently it was my pleasure to discuss with you the matter of salvaging the “Richard Montgomery”.

You made it very clear to me the considerable attention that had been given to this vessel, and the difficulties that were contemplated when it came to the question of dealing with the removal of its contents.

All this information I passed on to my friends, Messrs. S.I,.R.M.A. Salvage, Ancona, Italy.  The result of the communication is summarized in the Photostat letter enclosed.

I beg to inform you that I sent a similar copy to Mr. Stanley, and await with keen interest your reply.

Yours Truly,
G. ARNOLD & CO., (LONDON) LIMITED.
J Connelly,
Director



S.I.R.M.A.
Messrs. George Arnold.
14 Waterloo Place.  Pall Mall.
London.  England.
1/2/54.

Dear Mr Arnold,

Herewith the replies to your letter of the 21/1/54 ?? your telegram from Paris and your ‘phone call with Mr Crickmar.
1.   “Richard Montgomery”  We note with interest the progress made by you to date.  The necessary documents relating to our technical skill, information on the fragmentation bomb, what steps we propose to take with our insurance firm will be forwarded on to you as soon as they are completed.  The fragmentation bomb of 250/500 lbs presents no difficulty to us what-so-ever in terms of salvage.  We have handled large quantities of this type of bomb and it has not caused us any worries.  We would also like to point out that most bombs when being transported in bulk by ship are seldom if ever fused.
2.   All costs for salvaging this vessel, staff, equipment, insurance etc will be met by us, the hull and cargo however to be considered out property if we foot the bill and to be sold to the highest bidder.  In the event of out being able to find n English firm, empowered to buy explosives and who are able to offer a competitive price then we would sell to them.  Apart from the fact that such a vessel and it’s cargo may prove of some value to the English market the removal of the wreck will certainly improve navigation in the area in which it is at present lying.  In the event of another war, it would certainly prove a headache to the authorities.  As an alternative, we would like to know if the British government would consider paying us to disperse this wreck, in which case they could either dispose of the wreck and contents as they saw fit or sell them to us.
3.   With regards to the liability.  We would of course provide ourselves with insurance coverage from one of the biggest companies in Italy, “La Venezia”.  This company has agencies all over the world.  If however it is desired that we take out cover with an English firm for our staff and work then we are prepared to do so.  We can, if you desire, send you a prospectus from “La Venezia”.
4.   Finance.  Different types of salvage naturally mean different outlays of capital, for this particular type of job, the Richard Montgomery, the funds we have in hand are more than adequate.  We would not consider commencing operation otherwise.  Without sufficient funds it would prove detrimental to our staff, who we esteem most highly, and their dependants, likewise for the actual salvage and also ruin our prestige in this particular line of work.
5.   Please permit us to add that we consider that the worries and fears expressed by the admiralty and P.L.A. to be some-what excessive, this ship as it lies does not appear to be much different from other such jobs undertaken by us, it seems much easier than most we have undertaken.  Four submarines that were salvaged by us in deeper water had torpedoes fitted with war-heads.  Rest assured that our technicians, who do nothing but work in explosives, would make a most thorough survey before deciding whether or not to commence operations and should there be the slightest doubt about the successful outcome of the whole operation then we would abandon the attempt.  Our hands are somewhat tied at the moment because without admiralty approval for such a survey then we can hardly present a good case to the panel of authorities for their reconsideration.
6.   Please bear in mind Mr Arnold that apart from the Richard Montgomery we are interested in all other wrecks carrying explosives and ammunition dumping zones with particular regard to France.  We would like first of all to have some more information with regards to our possibility of obtaining permission to salvage the R. Montgomery.  Thanking you very much indeed for your excellent co-operation and suggestions, we remain,

Yours Faithfully,

Leonard J. Crickmar

Geniale Mollaretti

Administrators
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 11, 2011, 21:36:49
Port of London Authority,
London, E.C.3.
2nd February, 1954

Dear Walton,

Knowing Lord Waverley’s keen interest in the wreck “Richard Montgomery” and his active participation in the discussions as to what action should be taken for its removal, I thought he had better see your letter of January 26th and its enclosures.

From your covering letter it could be inferred that initially you have asked for the views of this Authority and this causes my Chairman some surprise, bearing in mind his clear pronouncement on several occasions – both in writing and in conversation – as a where, in his opinion, the responsibility for action rests.

We content that the wreck is the responsibility of Her Majesty’s Government and while accepting the considered view of the Admiralty that it should remain undisturbed, on the ground that the attendant risks to life would be less than would inevitably be incurred by any attempt to remove the cargo, its continued presence in the Thames Estuary cannot be regarded other than with grave misgivings.

The enquiry as regards salvage now submitted by the firm of Italian Salvage Contractors would appear to warrant the most serious reconsideration of this problem, and it is suggested that your Ministry should approach the Admiralty on the basis proposed in the penultimate paragraph of Col. Hazlehurst’s letter.

I need hardly add that this Authority will at all times give the fullest co-operation in the consideration of “operational” factors attendant upon the work of salvage.

Yours sincerely,

(SGD.) Leslie E. Ford
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 12, 2011, 14:27:47
H. E. Hazlehurst,
802, Drake House,
Dolphin Square, S.W.1.
29th December, 1953.

The Assistant Secretary,
Ports & Inland Waterways Division,
Ministry of Transport & Civil Aviation,
Berkeley Square House,
Berkeley Square, W.1.

Dear Sirs,

With reference to the meeting with Mr. Welsh on 22/12/53 we should like to confirm the conversations.

We are desirous of salvaging the “Robert Montgomery” and cargo lying off Sheerness.  We are aware that this ship has been the centre of a very considerable amount of discussion, and the fact that it is still lying sunk would seem to indicate that nothing has been done, and it is still a problem and potential danger.

We represent an Italian firm who specialise solely in the salvage of explosives and munitions, and also a firm in Brescia who separate metals, explosives, refine and place at the disposition of N.A.T.O. via (O.P.C. (Officer Procurement Commander) d Roma).

Over 20,000 tons of munitions sunk at sea in the Mediterranean areas have been recovered by out salvage teams; amongst these munitions have been grenades, shells, land mines, bombs, small arms ammunition, a ship of 5,500 tons with a mixed cargo of T.N.T. and Cereals, three Italian Submarines in a coastal zone, and one in deep water all with quite a number of torpedoes fitted with warheads.

Our salvage teams, technicians, chemists, etc., are all especially licensed by the Italian Ministry, Naval Authorities, Customs and Police.  We have been given permission to salvage ammunition dumped at sea off Malta and we hope to commence work later in the year.

It will be appreciated that Italian salvage teams have considerable experience and are not lacking in International prestige in Europe.  We estimate that the recovery of munitions aboard the “Richard Montgomery” lying as it is in reasonably sheltered waters would not take long to clear.

Before making any decision in this matter would it be possible that our technical experts could meet your technicians and advisors to discuss the method of operating and safety precautions that would be taken by us.

At the same time your experts could assess our qualifications and experience to do this work and assure themselves of our technical skill to complete the salvage safely and successfully.

We are,
Yours faithfully,
For and on behalf of
H .E. Hazlehurst.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 12, 2011, 19:21:37
22nd August, 1944.

Dear Sir,

S.S. “Richard Montgomery”

With reference to the salvage operations about to be undertaken on the above vessel in the Thames estuary, it is understood that as this vessel is lying in the Dockyard Port of Sheerness, the Admiralty will be the principals, the Port Authority acting as Agents.

Messrs. Watson & Gill, the Stevedores who are discharging the ship have asked for an indemnity to cover their employees against Workmen’s compensation and Third Party Risks, and it is understood that the Authority should give this indemnity on behalf of the Admiralty.

I shall be glad to have your confirmation of the above arrangement.

Yours faithfully,

?. Stanley
Head of Salvage Department.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 13, 2011, 18:33:31
23 August, 1944.

Sir,

In reply to your letter of 22nd August, I am commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to state that They note that the salvage operations about to be undertaken on the S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY are for account of the admiralty.

I am to confirm that the Authority may, on behalf of the Admiralty, give an indemnity to Messrs. Watson and Gill to cover the employees against Workmen’s Compensation and Third Party Risks during the time they are engaged on these operations.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

???????
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 14, 2011, 14:04:28
1st September 1944.

George Watson & Gill
276, High Street,
Rochester.

Dear Sir,

S/S “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”

We duly received your esteemed favour of the 25th ultimo.
There was an accident on board the ship yesterday to R. F. Butcher.  When breaking down in No.4 Hold the wire round one of the ca?? broke causing the hook to pierce his left arm.  He was attended by the Chief Officer of the “Flathouse” and, so far, he is still at work, so it may not be anything.  The time of this accident was 10.30 a.m. yesterday and was witnessed by E. Hutson.

We are,
Yours faithfully,

George Watson & Gill.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 18, 2011, 22:33:46
From:  The Mooring & Wreck Raising Officer.

To:  Head of Salvage Department.

s.s. “RICHARD MONTGOMERY” – Cant Sands.
8th November 1944.

I made an examination of the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” at Low Water on the 6th and 7th instant with regard to the possibility of salving the vessel.  It was found that the vessel has broken into two parts at the fore side of the bridge.  The stern portion is lying at an angle of 7 degrees to port with a 10 degree list to starboard, the port quarter rail being awash at Low Water whilst the starboard quarter rail shows a sounding of 8-ft.  The forward portion is lying on an even keel and has 8-ft. of water over the deck.

Soundings shew that the keel is 42-ft. below Low Water mark and alongside the vessel there is 33-ft. leaving the keel 9-ft. below the sand level on her dock.  At a distance of 100-ft. off and around the vessel soundings shew 8-ft.  The tide has scoured a large dock in which the vessel is resting and sinking with her keel 34-ft. below the original sand level.

The salving of these two parts of the vessel if undertaken will be a costly job, and would entail the use of all our plant and gear, and would mean employing extra men for a considerable period.  Probably the work would take between three and four months of fine weather.  This operation could not be undertaken until the later spring as the vessel is lying in a position exposed to winds from any direction.  The cost of removing this wreck would far exceed its value.

Should it be essential that this vessel be removed I am of the opinion that providing she does not settle any further in the sand the prospects of removing her are reasonable.

Enclosed you will please find photographs taken at Low Water on 6th November 1944.

(Sgd.) ROBT. BROOKS
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 24, 2011, 22:01:30
HEADQUARTERS UNITED KINGDOM BASE
BASE TRANSPORTATION OFFICE
APO 314  U.S. ARMY
11 August, 1945

Director of Salvage,
Admiralty,
Fanum House,
Leicester Square, W.C. 2.



Dear sir,
ss RICHARD MONTGOMERY

You will probably recall that the subject vessel grounded at the Nore Anchorage, Thames Estuary off Medway Channel on the 20th August, 1944, and further that the vessel was partially discharged of her bomb cargo off Sheerness Dock by the Port of London Authority.

Discharge of this vessel came to a complete halt on 26 September 1944, due to adverse conditions.

According to our figures there still remains in Nos. 1 and 2 Hatches a total of 3691 W/T 3685 M/T of bombs for U.S. Army Account.  We would appreciate knowing whether or not your Division contemplates again commencing discharge and if so an approximate date.

Yours Sincerely,
Warren A. Bergquist
Major, T.C.
Chief, Ports and Water Branch
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: busyglen on June 25, 2011, 12:11:06
Thanks for all of this hard work Kyn!  :)  I can't believe how much dialogue has been going back and forth over the years, and which never produced a definite answer.  Unless of course it is in the later documentation.  :)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 25, 2011, 13:48:09
There are still hundreds of pages to be written up, but from the varied dates I have already done it seems the only definate answer has been to leave it alone.  The only bombs that are a danger at any time are the cluster bombs, which if they are covered in silt are still in a position to explode, the other bombs are only a dnager if the cluster bombs go...
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 26, 2011, 17:15:48
The attached letter from U.S. Army Authorities concerning the recovery of the remainder of cargo of bombs ex RICHARD MONTGOMERY is referred.  The latest report from the P.L.A. Salvage Officer who was in charge of the operations is also attached for information.

2.   The vessel lies in the Sheerness Dockyard Area, and D. of N. considers that she is an obstruction to navigation.  Whatever course may eventually be taken to remove the obstruction, it will be necessary first to remove the 3000 tons of bombs in Nos. 1 and 2 holds which are now completely submerged at all states of the tide.

3.   This is essentially a cargo recovery job employing divers.  It will be a slow and costly operation and the salved value will probably be nil.  The P.L.A. have been consulted and are prepared to undertake the work when they have craft available next year,  They would also undertake to attempt to remove the vessel in two pieces.

4.   World S. Brach please advise if the P.L.A. will be in a position to undertake this work as Admiralty Agents or as private contractors.  Would S. Branch also consider the alternative of placing the cargo recovery work with outside contractors who might be prepared to commence work earlier.

5.   It is proposed to send the U.S. Army Authorities a copy of the Salvage Officer’s report and to inform the, that both vessel and remaining cargo are regarded as a total loss but, as the vessel is an obstruction and may have to be removed, the recovery of the cargo will be a necessary part of such operation, but no date for starting the removal can at present be given.

A. R. Dewson (?)
Director of Salvage
20th august, 1945
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: ronangel on July 28, 2011, 11:09:33
Update Re:

AN-M1A1 CLUSTER FRAGMENTATION BOMBS

These comprise a cluster of six 20lb TNT-filled fragmentation bombs type M41 assembled and packed on the cluster in the fuzed condition. They are the most hazardous items in the cargo of the "SS Richard Montgomery". Each cluster was packed in a metal-lined wooden box of exterior dimensions 134 X 27 X 32 (cm). The fuze employed is the type AN-M110A1

Cluster bomb fuze type AN-M110A1 diagram and workings (pdf)
http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com/download/AN-M110A1.pdf (http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com/download/AN-M110A1.pdf)


With thanks to a member of:
Inert Ordnance Collectors Online
British Ordnance Collectors Network
http://www.bocn.co.uk
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 16, 2011, 17:05:31
Rochester 23rd October 1944.
Head of the salvage department,
Port of London Authority – London.

Account with GEORGE WATSON & Gill.

S. S. Richard Montgomery – Salvage Operations
Discharging account.

Sept.


To Discharging 3175 tons @ 34/- per ton 5394. 2. 0.
To Overtime & extra Labour account 3720. 19. 4.
9115. 1. 4.
4/5th of 10% - N.D.L.C. 729. 4. 1.
£9844. 5. 5.
Turning out money £60. 4. 7. (Refunded by N.D.L.C. -. -. -.
Tallying account 117. 19. 6.
Hire of Motor Launches 38. 0. 0.
Railway Fares & Buses136. 12. 8.
Refunded by N.D.L.C.16. 18. 0.119. 14. 8.
Billeting money @ 5/- per day 268. 0. 0.
Billeting Foreman Stevedore @ 7/6d.per day 10. 2. 6.
Transporting gear to Sheerness 4. 10. 0.
£10402. 12. 1.
CR.
By Cheques on account 6000. 0. 0.
Balance due to Watson & Gill. £4402. 12. 1.


Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 16, 2011, 21:16:23
Account with George Watson & Gill.

S.S. “Richard Montgomery” – Salvage Operations
Overtime, extra Labour etc..
Aug.
23To 48 men dinner hour @ 2/2d per man5. 4. 0.
To 48 men overtime 5-7pm – travelling – 3 hrs. @ 6/8 p. Hr.48. 0. 0.
24To 48 men dinner hour @ 2/2d per man5. 4. 0.
To 16 men working in oil 9am/3pm – 5 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.40. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 6 men @ 15/- p.hr.4. 10. 0.
To 48 men 5-7pm – travelling – 3 hrs @6/8 per hour.48. 0. 0.
25To 48 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man5. 4. 0.
To 16 men working in oil 8am/3pm – 6 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.48. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 8 men @ 15/- p.hr.6. 0. 0.
To 48 men 5-7pm – travelling – 3 hrs @6/8 per hour.48. 0. 0.
26To 16 men working in oil 9am/noon – 3 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.24. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 16 men @ 7/6d. each6. 0. 0.
To 48 men 1-5pm – travelling – 4 hrs @6/3 per hour.10. 8. 0.
27To 48 men dinner hour @ 4/4d. Per man10. 8. 0.
To 16 men working in oil 9am/3pm – 5 hrs @ 1/- p.hr.80. 0. 0.
To 48 men Sunday overtime 8am-5pm – 8 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.192. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 8 men @ 1/-. each8. 0. 0.
To 48 men 5-7pm – travelling – 3 hrs @13/4 per hour.95. 0. 0.
28To 48 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man5. 4. 0.
To 48 men overtime 5-7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.72. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 10 men @ 15/-. each7. 10. 0.
29To 64 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man6. 18. 8.
To extra labour clearing timber – 16 men @ 15/-. each12. 0. 0.
To 64 men overtime 5-7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.96. 0. 0.
30To 64 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man6. 18. 8.
To extra labour clearing timber – 8 men @ 15/-. each6. 0. 0.
To 64 men overtime 5-7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.96. 0. 0.
31To 72 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man7. 16. 0.
To 72 men overtime 5/9pm – 5 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.180. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 8 men @ 15/-. each6. 0. 0.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Bobdonk on August 16, 2011, 21:25:31
Quote
To 48 men 5-7pm – travelling – 3 hrs @6/8 per hour.   48. 0. 0.

I make 5-7pm 2 hours .  A nice bit of creative accounting?
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Mike S on August 16, 2011, 21:33:52
Should it read 5-7 + travelling? Some entries are 5-7 wiith no mention of travelling but still calculated as 3 hours.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 16, 2011, 21:38:26
Could be, I just type out what I see  :)  Any mistakes within the documents are generally kept...
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: grandarog on August 16, 2011, 22:44:18
Looks like some of the accounting is inclusive hours and some isnt,
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 17, 2011, 12:39:38
Account with George Watson & Gill.

S.S. “Richard Montgomery” – Salvage Operations
Overtime, extra Labour etc..
Sept.
1To 72 men dinner hour @ 2/2d per man7. 16. 0.
To 72 men overtime 5/7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.108. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 10 men @ 15/- p.hr.7. 10. 0.
2To extra labour clearing timber – 4 men @ 7/6 p.hr.1. 10. 0.
3To 72 men Sunday overtime 8am - 5pm – 8 hrs. @ 10/- 288. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 3 men @ £13. 0. 0.
4To extra labour clearing timber – 4 men @ 15/-3. 0. 0.
5To 36 standing by (weather unsuitable) @ 17/6 per man31. 10. 0.
To “Empire Nutfield” anchored Kethole reach to enable vessels to sail with cargo on board16. 0. 0.
7To 36 standing by (weather unsuitable) @ 17/6 per man31. 10. 0.
8To 36 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man3. 18. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber – 6 men @ 15/-4. 10. 0.
10To 36 men dinner hour @ 4/4 each7. 16. 0.
To 36 men Sunday overtime 8am/5pm – 8 hrs. @ 10/- 144. 0. 0.
To 36 men Sunday overtime 5pm/7pm – 3 hrs. @ £1 per hr. 108. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber @ £1 each – three men3. 0. 0.
11To 36 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man3. 18. 0.
To 36 men 5-7pm – 3 hours @ 10/- per hour overtime54. 0. 0.
12To 36 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man3. 18. 0.
To 36 men 5-7pm – 3 hours overtime @ 10/- per hour 54. 0. 0.
13To 36 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man3. 18. 0.
To 36 men overtime 5-9pm – 5 hours @ 10/- per hr. 90. 0. 0.
14To 36 men dinner hour @ 2/2d. Per man3. 18. 0.
To 18 men working in oil 11am/8pm  – 9 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.81. 0. 0.
To 36 men overtime 5-9pm – 5 hrs. @ 10/- per hr.90. 0. 0.
To extra labour clearing timber etc. 2 men @ 15/- p.hr.1. 10. 0.
15To 18 men working in oil 9am/7pm  – 9 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.81. 0. 0.
To 36 men overtime 5-7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- per hr.54. 0. 0.
16To 18 men working in oil 9am/noon  – 3 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.27. 0. 0.
To 4 men extra labour clearing timber etc. @ 7/6 p.hr.1. 10. 0.
17To 36 men Sunday overtime 8am/5pm – 8 hrs. @ 10/- per hr. 144. 0. 0.
To 18 men working in oil 9am/5pm  – 7 hrs @ £1 p.hr.126. 0. 0.
18To 18 men working in oil 9am/6pm  – 8 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.72. 0. 0.
To 36 men overtime 5/7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- per hr.54. 0. 0.
To 2 men extra labour clearing timber. @ 15/- each1. 10. 0.
19To 18 men working in oil 8am/5pm  – 8 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.72. 0. 0.
20To 18 men working in oil 9am/7pm  – 9 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.81. 0. 0.
To 36 men overtime 5/7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- per hr.54. 0. 0.
To 4 men extra labour clearing timber. @ 15/- each3. 0. 0.
To 18 men working in oil 10am/7pm  – 8 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.72. 0. 0.
To 36 men overtime 5/7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- per hr.27. 0. 0.
22To 18 men working in oil 9am/7pm – 9 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.81. 0. 0.
To 18 men overtime 5/7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.27. 0. 0.
23To 18 men working in oil 8am/noon  – 4 hrs @ 10/- p.hr.36. 0. 0.
24To 18 men working in oil 9am/4pm  – 6 hrs @ £1 p.hr.108. 0. 0.
To 18 men overtime (Sunday) 8am-5pm – 8 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.81. 0. 0.
25To 18 men working in oil 8am/6pm  – 9 hrs @ £1 p.hr.81. 0. 0.
To 18 men overtime  5/7pm – 3 hrs. @ 10/- p. Hr.27. 0. 0.
£3720. 19. 4.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: JohnWalker on August 18, 2011, 02:23:35
This might be of interest...

http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/emergencyresponse/mcga-receiverofwreck/mcga-ssrichardmontgomery.htm (http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/emergencyresponse/mcga-receiverofwreck/mcga-ssrichardmontgomery.htm)

John
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 18, 2011, 12:02:30
Account with George Watson & Gill.

S.S. “Richard Montgomery” – Salvage Operations
Overtime, extra Labour etc..
Aug.
Aug.
23To three men tallying @ 19/6d (1/2 day)2. 18. 6.
24To four men tallying @ 39/- per day7. 16. 0.
25To four men tallying @ 39/- per day7. 16. 0.
26To four men tallying @ 19/6d (1/2 day)3. 18. 0.
27To four men tallying @ 78/-per day15. 12. 0.
28To four men tallying @ 39/-per day + 2 hours o/t @ 9/9d.9. 15. 0.
29To four men tallying @ 39/-per day + 2 hours o/t @ 9/9d.9. 15. 0.
30To four men tallying @ 39/-per day + 2 hours o/t @ 9/9d.9. 15. 0.
31To four men tallying @ 39/-per day + 2 hours o/t @ 9/9d.9. 15. 0.
Sep.
1To four men tallying @ 39/-per day + 2 hours o/t @ 9/9d .9. 15. 0.
2To four men tallying @ 19/6d (1/2 day)3. 18. 0.
3To two men tallying @ 78/- per day7. 16. 0.
4To four men tallying @ 39/- per day7. 16. 0.
8To two men tallying @ 39/- per day3. 18. 0.
10To two men tallying @ 78/- per day7. 16. 0.
£117. 1p. 6.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 18, 2011, 13:59:34
S/S “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”
at
East Nore Sands

September 12th to October 7th, 1944

Towage at Schedule rates:  In accordance with rates agreed with M.O.W.T.   £428. 3. 1.
Use of Tug and crew standing by Ship daily
124 hours at £3 per hour including 52 hours overtime weekdays and Sundays at London Quay Tugs wages and conditions, and including fuel, stores, insurance etc.  (In accordance with rates agreed with M.O.W.T.)      372. 0. 0.
Lightermen
Including Dock Corporation surcharge, Workmen’s Compensation, National Insurance, travelling, supervision etc.      301. 9. 11.

Use of Craft
”Barry” Regd. No. 14955Sept. 11 - 23
265 Tons d.w.
”Cowes” Regd. No. 14957Sept. 11 - 23
265 Tons d.w.
”Pelton” Regd. No. 15814Sept. 15 – 7 Oct.
265 Tons d.w.
”Didcot” Regd. No. 14983Sept. 18 – 30 Sept.
265 Tons d.w.
”Queensbury” Regd. No. 15818Sept. 18 – 2 Oct.
265 Tons d.w.
”Instow” Regd. No. 15441Sept. 15 – 3 Oct.
265 Tons d.w.
”Ketley” Regd. No. 15606Sept. 22 – 7 Oct.
265 Tons d.w.
“Teak” Regd. No. 8635Sept. 11 – 26 Sept.
215 Tons d.w.
”Capella” Regd. No. Sept. 11 – 27 Sept.
215 Tons d.w.
2285 Tons – Total d.w. of craft.

Special Watch barge “Calia” Regd. No. 13177 – Sept. 16 – 12 Oct.
Sundays charged only when working
7 – 265 Ton barges – 100 freight days at £6. 17. 6.£687. 10. 0.
2 – 215 Ton barges – 31 freight days at £5. 12. 6.174. 7. 6.
1 – Special Watch barge – 23 days at £3. 0. 0.69. 0. 0.930. 17. 6.
Rope used at Ship 20. 0. 0.
P.L.A. Dock charges 1. 18. 10.
Total£2054. 9. 4.

Tonnage of Munitions handled – 1726 Tons
Cost per ton – d.w. of craft, excluding attendance of tug14/8.7d.
Cost per ton 0 Tons handled, excluding attendance tug19/5.9d.
Cost per ton – All services, excluding attendance of tug23/9.7d.



PORT OF LONDON AUTHORITY.
Dr. to WILLIAM WATKINS LTD.,
Steam Tug Owners,
Fenton House, 112, Fenchurch Street,
London, E.C.3.

1944 £  s. d.
For Towage of the M.V. RICHARD MONTGOMERY.
Tug “ATLANTIC COCK” attending off Sheerness for period 23rd August, 1944 to 10th September, 1944, supplying steam, etc.
Aug. 23Left Gravesend Terrace Pier at 6 a.m.
Sept. 10Arrived Gravesend Buoy at 3.45 p.m.
18 ½ days at £67. 10. 0. per day 1,248. 15. 0.
2 – 10’ lengths of steaming hose at £10. 10. 0.ea.21. 0. 0.
Tug “GONDIA” attending off Sheerness for period 9th September, 1944 to 26th September, 1944, supplying steam, etc.
Sept. 9Left Gravesend with Barge “MARCH” at 8 a.m.
26Arrived Gravesend at 10.40 a.m.
17 days at £67. 10. 0. per day1,147. 10. 0.
£2,417. 5. 0.

706   27.   B.297
Wreck No. V. “Richard Montgomery” £2,417. 5. 0.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 23, 2011, 16:45:09
Port of London Authority.
Schedules to Report No. Accountant.
1472/44

Claim for discharging costs on Cargo in S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY during Salvage Operations.

1.Wages 474.14. 3
2.Working out of Port Allowances:-
Capt. Edwards.40. -. -
Capt. Brooks3. -. -
3.Sundry Expenses:-
Capt. Edwards.40.6. 1
Capt. Brooks1.13. 6
Railway Vouchers & Phone calls.9.11. 1
Crew.3.15. 255. 5.10
4.Stores Etc..
Emergency Rations5.11
Damaged Clothing6. 7. -
10 fathoms Ratline5. -
120 fathoms 4” Wire Rope57. 6. -64. 3.11
5.Contractors Accounts:-
Geo. Watson & Gill10,377.12. 1
Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd.2,054. 9. 4
Wm. Watkins Ltd.2.417. 5. -
Harrisons (London) Ltd.10. 5.1014,859. 12. 3
6.Use of Palnt:-
Yantlet1944
Sept. 121 day38. 0. 0
Sept. 131 day38. 0. 0
Sept. 141 day38. 0. 0
Sept. 151 day38. 0. 0
Sept. 162 hours W10. 0. 0
Sept. 163 hours A7.10.0
Sept. 171 day38. 0. 0.
Sept. 181 day38. 0. 0.
Sept. 191 day38. 0. 0.
Sept. 206 hours W.30. 0. 0
Sept. 202 hours A.5. 0. 0.
Oct. 11 day38. 0. 0.
Oct. 21 day38. 0. 0.
Oct. 3(Prop’n of 1 day25. 10. 0
Oct. 4Prop’n of 1 day15. 10. 0
Oct. 5Prop’n of 1 day19. 0. 0.
Oct. 72 hours W.10. 0. 0.
Oct. 9Prop’n of 1 day3. 0. 0.
Oct 23Prop’n of 1 day15. 10. 0
Nov. 6Prop’n of 1 day30. 17. 6
Nov. 71 day38. 0. 0.
Dec. 81 day38. 0. 0.
Dec. 115 hours W.25. 0. 0614. 17. 6
Motor Boat 614 .17 6.
Diving Apparatus6 hours W.
3 hours A.3. 6. -
Steam Crane4 hours4. -. -
ST. DARENT:-
1944
Sept. 97 hours W.24. 10. -
Sept. 101 day29. 0. 0.53. 10. -
BOY MARK:-
Sept. 121 hour1. 10. 0
Sept. 141 hour1. 10. 0
Sept. 16 to 205 hours7. 10. 0
Sept. 22 to 246 hours9. 0. 0
Sept. 25 to 276 hours9. 0. 0
Sept. 28 to 303hours4. 10. 024. -. -.704. 1. -.
£16,200. 18. 3

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 22, 2011, 17:44:36
HEADQUARTERS UNITED KINGDOM BASE
BASE TRANSPORTATION OFFICE
APO  413    U.S. ARMY

11 August, 1945

Dear Sir,

ss RICHARD MONTGOMERY

You will probably recall that the subject vessel grounded at the Nore Anchorage, Thames Estuary off Medway Channel on the 20th August, 1944, and further that the vessel was partially discharged of her bomb cargo off Sheerness Dock by the Port of London Authority.
Discharge of this vessel came to a complete halt on 26 September 1944, due to adverse conditions.
According to our figures there still remains in Nos. 1 and 2 Hatch a total of 3691 W/T 3685 M/T of Bombs for U.S. Army Account.  We would appreciate knowing whether or not your Division contemplates again commencing discharge and if so an approximate date.

Yours Sincerely,
Warren A. Bergquist
Major,  T.C.
Chief, Ports and Water Branch
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 22, 2011, 21:22:54
Dr. to the PORT OF LONDON AUTHORITY.

To Attendance at ss. “RICHARD MONTGOMERY” in Thames Estuary.£s.d.£s.d.
Wages 4741403
Working our of Port Allowance (Officers) 43--
Sundry Expenses (Fares, etc.) 530510
Stores, etc.
Emergency Rations 511
Damaged Clothing (Capt. Edwards)67-
10 fthm Ratline 5-.
120 fthm 4” Wire Rope576-64311
Contractors:-
Geo. Watson & Gill10,377121
Associated Portland Cement Manufacture Ltd.2,05494
Wm. Watkins Ltd.2,4175-
Harrisons (London) Ltd.1061014,859133
Use of Plant:-
m.v. “Yantlett”614176
Motor Boat476
Diving Apparatus336-
Steam Crane S.30.4--
s.t. “Darent”5310-
”Boy Mark”24--7041?
16,20018?
Less amount received on account 22.11.44 10,000--
£6,200183
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 22, 2011, 22:29:32
To enable further consideration to be given to this matter, will D.S/V.D. please be good enough to give an estimate of the vessels, personnel etc. that would be required to remove this wreck and the approximate time that would be taken to complete the operation.
2.   Will D.W.D. please comment on the possibility of dispersing the wreck, if this should prove to be a cheaper method of clearing the obstruction.

Head of S.
4th September 1945.



Dispersal might be successful here, as it might be possible to bury the wreck.  On the other hand, it may not, in which case a heap of wreckage with possibly additional shoaling will result.  The bombs would have to be removed first.  Obviously the best solution is removal.

Director of Wreck Dispersal
6th September, 1945



The recovery and disposal of 3000 tons of bombs would be the first stage in the removal of this wreck and would take 3 to 4 months.
Craft required:   
1 salvage vessel
2 small coasters
1 accomodation vessel

2.   For the removal of the two sections of the vessel, the following craft would be required for the periods shown:-
Two 1200-ton lighters – 8 weeks
Two tugs – 8 weeks
One salvage vessel – 3 months
One tug – 3 months
One accommodation vessel – 3 months

The above estimate is only approximate.  The type and number of vessels employed might vary considerably according to whether the work is carried out by Messrs. Risdon Beazley of the P.L.A.

Deputy Director of Salvage (H).
13th September, 1945.



On the foregoing statement it is estimated that the cost of recovery and disposal of the bombs in this vessel would be from £40,000 to £50,000 on a total cost basis, plus the actual cost of any operational material used, for which no estimate can be given.  To remove the vessel itself it is estimated that the cost would be a further £40,000, plus operational material used.
2.   As it is possible that the cost may fall on government funds, will Hydrographer and D. Of N. please confirm that removal of the wreck is considered necessary on the grounds that it constitutes an obstruction and a danger to navigation.

Head of S.
21st September, 1945.



The wreck is outside the  main channels into the Medway and is no obstruction to vessels using it.
It is, however, in 11 feet of water at low water springs, and constitutes an obstruction and a danger to navigation for barge of other traffic which may cut across the shoals where depths allow.

Director of Navigation.
24 September 1945.



It will be seen form the enclosed report of 8th November, 1944, that it is not a practical proposition to continue the work of salvage of the U.S. S.S. RICHARD MONTGOMERY under the terms of the Knock for Knock Agreement with the U.S. Government.
2.   If the wreck has to be removed at some future date as an obstruction or danger to navigation that would be a matter for the statutory authority concerned – possibly the King’s Harbour Master under the powers conferred upon him by the Dockyard Ports Regulation Act, 1865, if it is established that the wreck is in or near the approaches to the Sheerness Dockyard Port.  It is understood, however, that any such removal operation if carried out by the Admiralty under the 1865 Act, or as contractors to any other Port authority, is outside the terms of the Knock for Knock Agreement.  Will the Solicitor advise on this point.
3.   If the statutory authority undertake the removal they would obviously be entitled to dispose of any arisings and take credit for the proceeds against their wreck removal costs.  Will Solicitor confirm that the recovery of these arisings is also outside the scope of Knock for Knock.
4.   A further point arises in connection with the removal of the vessel.  In certain cases, dependant upon the Port authority’s statutory powers, they can proceed against the ship owner for the excess cost of the removal after sale of the arisings.  Would the King’s Harbour Master or other authority have this power against the U.S. War Shipping Administration.  It is realised that even if the power of recovery exists, it would be impolite to attempt to enforce it, but in order that the matter may be considered would the Solicitor please advise on the legal position.

For Head of S.
10th October, 1945.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 26, 2012, 22:13:39
1st January, 1953.

As requested in your letters of 22nd October and 24th November, 1952, we have been considering the suggestion of (a) improved marking of the wreck of S.S. Richard Montgomery, and (b) the removal of the derricks.
It has been agreed with Trinity House that the light on the wreck should be discontinued, and that the wreck should be marked by means of a green can unlighted wreck buoy placed close to the northward and by a green conical lighted wreck buoy placed ½ cable to the southward exhibiting a green group flashing light giving three flashes every ten seconds and having a CO2 automatic bell giving one stroke every fifteen seconds.  Trinity House have been requested to carry out and maintain the revised marking, and without prejudice to our view of the liability of the Port of London Authority for this work we will meet the cost of this arrangement.
As regards tour proposal that the derricks should be removed, we feel that this is a refinement which can hardly be regarded as essential, and in our opinion there is no need to spend the considerable sum which would be involved in carrying out this work.  The risk of a falling derrick setting off an explosion in the wreck is not considered to be very great, as the water over the wreck would undoubtedly cushion the drop of the derrick.

J. P. L. Thomas
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 10, 2012, 01:14:14
10th August, 1964.

Dear Sir,
S.S. “Richard Montgomery” – Wreck

I refer to the recent issue of the “Sheerness Times-Guardian” in which it is reported that a Mr. T. Smith and yourself are making preparations to dive on the above wreck in the near future.
If this report is true I would point out that no application from you to undertake these activities in an area which is under the navigational jurisdiction of my Board has been received.  Moreover, I am also informed that the Port of London Authority, who hold jurisdiction over the wrecks in the area, have not given permission for this venture.
You are, therefore, required to refrain from carrying out any diving operations on the above wreck, should you have any intention of doing so.

Yours faithfully,
K. Cooper.
Harbour Master.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 10, 2012, 14:25:32
EXTRACTS FROM THE NATIONAL PRESS – WRECK OF S.S. “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”, AUGUST, 1964.

Daily Express – 14th August.

“CARNIVAL TIME NEXT DOOR TO A POWDER KEG

In sheerness they trust I God and keep their powder wet.  For one mile from the tripper-thronged seafront of this Kent resort (pop. 18,000) lies 3,000 tons of high explosive.
It is contained in the hold of the submerged Richard Montgomery, an American war transport vessel that sunk in 1944.
The ship was carrying American fragmentation bombs for the Normandy invasion, many of them ready fused for action.

UNCARING

“These bombs are liable to spontaneous explosion if disturbed” said a navy explosives expert yesterday.
From the promenade where Sheerness was busy choosing its carnival week baby yesterday afternoon, the masts of the wrecked vessel could be seen sticking out of the sea.
Few citizens cared – and many did not know – that they were living next door to the ship that some experts have said could blow up Sheerness.
“It’s been like that for 20 years,” said a Sheerness mother at the baby show.
“Why, they even run pleasure boat trips out to the wreck.”

LANDMARK

The local skindivers wanted to explore the wreck this week.  They were warned to keep off.
How dangerous is the Richard Montgomery?
“It is only a quarter of a mile outside the main shipping channel,” said a Medway Port Officer.  “But it is actually quite a good landmark for ships, and we don’t consider it a potential danger.”
A statement this week that ‘if anything went wrong that is the end of Sheerness’ angered Fred Raulfe, chairman of Sheerness Council.

BAD TALK

“A few years ago the Admiralty assured us there was no danger,” he said.  “This sort of thank is bad for the holiday trade.”
Nobody wants to accept responsibility for the Richard Montgomery.  The Admiralty says “not our business.”  As a wreck it comes under the jurisdiction of the Port of London Authority and the Medway  Conservancy Board.  But they have taken no action.
Captain K. Cooper, harbour master at nearby Chatham, said: “The ship broke her back when she beached.  She’s well down in the sand, and it’s a lot safer to leave her that way than to tamper with her.”
And that seems to be that.

PETER CHAMBERS”



The Times-13th August.
“BOMBED SHIP A DANGER TO SHEERNESS

Two skin divers who wanted to explore the wartime wreck of the steamship Richard Montgomery in the Medway have been warned not to go near her in case she blows up, “taking half of Sheerness with her”.
The ship ran aground one and a half miles off Sheerness in 1944 with many tons of explosives onboard, after being bombed.  Half her cargo was retrieved, but fire prevented further salvage efforts.
After many postwar inspections experts decided that it would be safer to leave the ship alone in the hope that time and the sea would render the explosives harmless.  But there is no certainty that this has happened, and the Admiralty said that if anything went wrong it would be the end of Sheerness.”

The small amount of truth included this report is shocking!  Talk about start panic – and years later we still have the odd person that believes this rubbish!
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: seafordpete on April 10, 2012, 14:29:58
Quote "The ship ran aground one and a half miles off Sheerness in 1944 with many tons of explosives onboard, after being bombed"

Funnily enough my mother who was living in Sheerness at the time always insisted the RM ran aground during an air raid
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 10, 2012, 20:34:43
I have read this numerous times, I believe it must have been part of the local story.

17 August 1964

Dear Earl Jellicoe,

Wreck of the Richard Montgomery off Sheerness

This is to confirm a telephone call to your office this morning when I spoke to Mr Coles about the wreck of the ship Richard Montgomery which lies off Sheerness.
On my return from holiday at the weekend my attention was drawn to reports in national newspapers of last Thursday (13 August) stating that two skin divers had been warned by the Medway Conservancy Board and the Port of London Authority not to explore the wreck as there was a possible danger from explosives said to have been on board since the ship went down in 1944 after a bombing attack.  I understand that certain inquiries were made some time ago (possible ten years or more ago) by my predecessor, the late Mr Percy Wells, but I have not yet traced them; perhaps your department would be able to check on them as well.
My reason for writing is that there is considerable local concern over the press reports, which are somewhat alarming, and you will appreciate that as this is the height of the holiday season (the Isle of Sheppey’s carnival week is in progress, as it happens), local holiday traffic could be affected as well.
I would be most grateful if you could have the matter investigated and let me know whether there are in fact any explosives still in the wreck; if there are, whether there is any danger; and if there is, what steps you propose to take to remove the danger.  If there is no danger, I would ask that a very clear and positive statement of reassurance be given, together with details of recent steps taken to confirm that no danger exists.
I understand that various inspections have been made since the war but that experts have decided (in the words of a report in THE TIMES of 13 August 1964) “that it would be safer to leave the sip alone in the hope that time and quotes ‘the Admiralty’ as saying that if anything went wrong it would be the end of Sheerness.
One question that naturally arises in the public’s mind following the warning just given to the skin divers is that although the ship may be safer left alone – what might happen if someone attempted to explore the wreck without seeking permission.
It is clearly in the public interest that the matter be settled finally so as to allay the anxieties that still persist after some twenty years.
Mr Coles has kindly said that the matter will be examined.  Anything that can be done to settle this problem will be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely
Terence Boston
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 24, 2012, 09:49:52
The enclosed letter of 17th August, 1964, from Mr. Terence Boston, M.P. for Faversham, is referred to D.S.5 for drafting a reply in conjunction with F.2(N) Salvage Section, consulting other Divisions as necessary.
2.   Private Office has already learned verbally (from Salvage Section) that the decision not to remove the wreck was taken some twelve years ago and that it has been lying “safely” for twenty years in all.  Nevertheless, it is disturbing for the residents of Sheerness to learn that the explosives in the vessel could still be highly dangerous.
3.   The reported Admiralty statement appears to be an exaggeration but we should discover whether an official statement was made and, if so, what was said.
4.   The following points should also be examined before a reply can be made:-

(a)   Whether the wreck should still be allowed to lie off Sheerness and why;
(b)   If the wreck must remain in its present position:-
(i)   Could an explosion be activated by normal sea action?
(ii)   Could an explosion still have enough force to damage Sheerness?
(iii)   Is the wreck adequately marked?
(iv)   Is it possible to prevent all attempts at interference with the wreck, i.e., is it under continuous watch and, if so, by whom?

R. Coles
Private Office (N)
18th August, 1964.



The Sheerness Harbour Company Limited
Sheerness Harbour Estate,
Sheerness,
Kent.

19th August, 1964.

Capt. Campton,
Medway Conservancy Board,
High Street,
Rochester.

Dear Captain Campton,

S.S. Richard Montgomery – Medway Approach

Owing to recent publicity in the national and local press concerning the wreck of the S.S. Richard Montgomery, I am receiving requests for assurances from Shipping Companies with whom we are negotiating at the present time.
The main questions relate to navigational precautions and aids.
So as to ensure the recent publicity does not frighten away potential users of the Port of Sheerness, I shall be grateful to receive any appropriate information your Board can supply.
It is regrettable that this irresponsible publicity has found its way into the National Press, thereby causing speculation as to the safety of the Medway Approach Channel, and possibly having a damaging effect on the Port transport industry along the Medway.
The whole matter has been presented to Mr. Terry Boston, Member of Parliament for the Faversham Constituency, and I understand he has raised urgent questions with the Admiralty and Ministry of Defence.

Yours sincerely,
J. Smith.
General Manager.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 26, 2012, 10:58:45
1.   Could an explosion be activated by normal sea action?

To quote from the report tabbed X:

While chemical changes may have…rendered the sensitive explosive substances inactive, it is quite impossible to say when, if ever, this process might result in eliminating the danger.  The main HE filling will not be rendered inert by immersion in water.

There is, and will long remain, a risk of spontaneous explosion of one of the fuzed fragmentation bombs.  This risk cannot be calculated: but experience of roughly parallel cases….suggests that it is remote.

   The risk of an explosion as a result of a blow is considerably greater.

2.   Could an explosion still have enough force to damage Sheerness?

To quote again from the report tabbed X:

If the whole cargo exploded, the effect of the blast above water would probably include breaking most of the windows in Sheerness; the “tidal wave” would be considerable; the shock through the hard clay, on which the wreck is resting, could be expected to cause added damages to buildings in Sheerness and even perhaps at Queenborough.  There is no reason to fear danger to life on land as a direct result of blast.
3.   Is the wreck adequately marked?

There is a green conical lighted wreck buoy ½ cable to the southward exhibiting a green group flashing light giving three flashes every ten seconds and having automatic bell giving one stroke every fifteen seconds.

There is a green conical unlighted wreck buoy close to the northward.

It is not known yet whether, arising from this incident, Medway will, for example, affix warning notices.  DAS(N) minute of 31st July refers.

4.   Is it under continuous watch?

CD Chatham says the Medway Conservancy Board have an observation position at Garrison Point, which is less than two miles from the wreck; and the Board’s launched patrol of the channel.  Mr D. Burton who contemplated diving, with others, in the vicinity of the wreck was required to refrain; copy of MCB letter to him dated 10th August is enclosed.

5.   The decision to leave the wreck was taken in 1952 after intensive consideration and advice had been given by several explosive experts, including Dr Watts of the Home Office.  Although the advice was not absolutely conclusive in the sense of indicating that an attempt to more the explosive content could lead to a serious explosion, whereas there was no risk of an explosion if left undisturbed, there was considered to be much greater likelihood of loss of life if the wreck was interfered with than if it was left alone.  DGW(N) had said in his minute of 18th August 1964 it is probable that simple boarding would not be dangerous but any investigation by divers or swimmers might well be.

6.   It is suggested the reply to Mr Terence Boston MP should be that explosives (some details are given in the first paragraph of the report tabbed X) are still there but that the matter was examined in great detail in 1952 when it was decided to leave the wreck well alone rather than take any action which might lead to an explosion.  The wreck is clearly marked and kept under observation by the Medway Conservancy Board.  Provided there is no interference, there is no known reason why the chance of explosion should be greater now than during the last 20 years.

7.   The Division can get no help either in London or Chatham about the source of the report that “if anything went wrong it would be the end of Sheerness”.  The MP might be re-assured a little on this aspect by the quotation at paragraph 2 above.

8.   All known former papers are attached.  A copy of recent correspondence between Medway Conservancy Board, Ports Division – Ministry of Transport, Sheerness Harbour Company and Mr Burton, requested from Flag Officer Medway, is enclosed.

9.   It is regretted there has been a slight delay with the paper.  This was because priority attention had to be given to the ESSO NORWAY/HMS ANZIO salvage incident.

D. R. Taylor
For Head of Finance Division 2 (Naval)
28 August 1964
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on April 30, 2012, 20:00:18
2 October 1964
DANGER DOWN BELOW
As sunken bomb ship menaces the Towns
SAYS STARTLING REPORT

If bombs – weighing in total more than seven million pounds – lying within the wrecked hull of an American ship now underwater off Sheerness, were to explode, havoc would be caused at the great Kent Oil Refinery in the Isle of Grain and:
A tidal wave might also rear up savagely along the course of the River Medway, to cause untold damage in Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.
This is the claim made in a startling report published in the current issue of the Wide World magazine, which also carries substantiating facts from Maj. A.B. Hartley, one of the country’s most famous bomb disposal experts.
A former Royal engineer, Maj. Hartley operated in this area many times during his Service career, supervising the disposal of unexploded German bombs.
The American Ship concerned is the Richard Montgomery, which sunk off Sheerness in a storm, in 1944.  She had earlier sailed from the U.S.A. for the Thames, with her four holds tightly packed with aerial fragmentation bombs.
When the storm blew up, two holds had been unloaded.  During the gale, the Montgomery’s back was broken and next morning only the tips of the derricks and mast peaks showed above water.
The Wide World magazine article points out that as the ship was not regarded as a navigational hazard little thought was given to the position in the months following D-Day.
“Why neither British nor American authorities insisted on salvaging the ship after the war is a question yet to be answered satisfactorily,” says the magazine.
The report relates that in 1952 the Admiralty notified the Port of London Authority that it would be safer to leave the Richard Montgomery where she is rather than risk tampering with her cargo.
When Major Hartley – one of the world’s most experienced men in the field of bomb disposal – was told about the ship and her cargo, he “was astounded,” according to the magazine.
“Leaving that ship there,” he is quoted as saying, “is like finding a long forgotten bomb dump in a crowded suburb – and then walking away without bothering even to tell anyone.  In my opinion these bombs are a major hazard.  They won’t make themselves safe.  On the contrary, as time passes they may become more dangerous.  A lot more dangerous.”
He explains that the type of bombs in the Montgomery have thick steel casings – accounting for 60 per cent of the bombs’ weight – and many years could pass before ……. water penetrated …………………………………………and the type of bomb involved could produce an explosion without anyone even tampering with them, is the opinion of Major Hartley, whose forecast of what could happen if they went up is blood chilling:
SHEERNESS WOULD BE DESTROYED – every building and everything.
ISLE OF GRAIN STRUCK – the Kent Oil Refinery is not far from the spot and would be hit hard.
MEDWAY TOWNS ENGULFED – a tidal wave might sweep up the Medway.  To cause havoc in Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.
The story of the Richard Montgomery reads like a thriller.  But this is not fiction.
Even the Admiralty, when approached by the Observer this week for a statement, did not dismiss out of hand the situation that is revealed.
Somewhat guardedly, an Admiralty spokesman said:
The danger is reasonably small so long as the wreck is not tampered with.”
The Richard Montgomery’s existence has, of course, been known for a  long time.  The Observer has drawn attention to it in the past.  But it has always been somewhat remote from us here in the Medway Towns – or seemed so.
These latest facts put forward by the Wide World magazine, now appear to dump the matter on our doorstep!
Mrs. Anne Kerr, the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Rochester and Chatham, was startled to learn of the alleged danger, and said she intended making inquiries about the matter.
M. Critchley and Mr. Burden will undoubtedly share her interest and concern.
Captain K. Cooper, Rochester’s Harbour Master, said this week:
“The wreck is well buoyed and clear of the shipping channel.”
The Editor of Wide World magazine sums up “…the facts may shock and alarm you, but we felt it was a story that had to be told…..”
Which is why we repeat it here!
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on May 01, 2012, 09:22:15
PARLIAMENTARY BOROUGH OF GILLINGHAM
GENERAL ELECTION, 1964

Polling Day:-
Thursday, 15th October, 1964

2nd October, 1964.
Mr. F. A. Burden
Your Conservative Candidate

My Dear Jellicoe,

I am sending you the front page of one of our local papers regarding the hazard of the bomb-packed American ship the Richard Montgomery which was sank off Sheerness in the War.

I know this has already been referred to you, and that you made a statement which was reported in the Times of the 13th September, but I am sure you will appreciate that your statement did not give very much confidence to the people living on the Isle of Sheppey or in the Medway Towns, and the subject has now become one of real urgency as I am sure you will appreciate from the front page of the local paper.

I have discussed this matter, before communicating with you, with some of the local engineers.  There is no doubt that Major Hartley is a very considerable expert, and it is also the view of others that a real danger to the safety of property and people on the Isle of Sheppey and the Medway Towns exists so long as this ship with her terrible destructive cargo continues to lay in her present position.  In the circumstances I feel sure you will appreciate that the only way in which this very live and mounting fear can be removed from the people living in this area will be to take steps to remove the dreadful hazard with which the bowels of this ship is packed.

I shall be grateful if you will look into this matter immediately and I trust I may have your assurance that the necessary steps will be put in hand with the utmost speed, in order to remove, which more and more people in the area are regarding as a dreadful danger.

Yours Sincerely
Freddy Burden
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: smiler on May 01, 2012, 11:13:55
August 21st 1944 from Kent a chronicle of the century by Bob Ogley(http://i1018.photobucket.com/albums/af310/smiler2/Images%20for%20Kent%20forum/scan0001-2.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on May 01, 2012, 16:17:36
GENERAL ELECTION, 1964
FAVERSHAM CONSTITUENCY
Polling day – Thursday, 15th October, 1964

1 October 1964

Dear Jellicoe,

Further to my letter of 25 September 1964, I am enclosing a copy of a monthly journal NEW WIDE WORLD containing in its current issue an article on the ss RICHARD MONTGOMERY.

The article was drawn to my attention yesterday by the Editor of one of our main local newspapers, the SHEERNESS TIMES-GUARDIAN, and I arranged to have extra copies sent to my by the publishers so that I could send one to you.

The journal is a popular one and you will see from the article that the subject has been written up in a very dramatic way, to say the least.  Nevertheless, I felt you ought t see it – partly because it is being carried as the lead story in the newspaper mentioned above this week and is therefore an example of the way on which these somewhat alarming stories about the wreck are continuing to circulate.  I feel that there will continue to be some anxiety until there is a new inspection of the wreck followed either by the removal of the explosives or a completely reassuring statement based on the new inspection.

I want to thank you for the trouble you have taken so far.  I am sorry to have to bother you further but I do feel there are strong grounds for further action.

Yours sincerely
Terence Boston
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: peterlh on July 06, 2012, 20:19:06
I used to go camping with my cousin at leysdown in the early fifties and took
a trip around this wreck in a converted life boat.Ghost riders in the sky was played continuously
during the trip.
peterlh
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: sheppey_bottles on October 16, 2012, 15:19:44
MCA survey reports in PDF are at the bottom of this page, 2010 being the latest shown there....

 http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/emergencyresponse/mcga-receiverofwreck/mcga-ssrichardmontgomery.htm

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: busyglen on October 16, 2012, 18:55:17
Thanks for the MCA survey reports.  It makes for interesting reading.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on December 27, 2012, 22:03:05
1.   We have agreed to arrange a survey of this wreck in June this year.

2.   The survey will be carried out by a Clearance Diving Team from HMS VERNON, embarked in RMAS “FELSTED”.

3.   It is understood that the survey will take about three weeks.

4.   It will be necessary to write to the Treasury and DTI about the costs of this survey which we have stated as being undertaken solely at the request of DTI.  Guidance is sought from Flc(N) as to whether the costs should be recorded on an exchequer department repayment basis or on an extra cost basis.

5.   Once this has been given DGDALL and DMS are requested to forward an estimate of the cost to arrive in NL by 25 May please.

6.   NL will then take action with Treasury/DTI as appropriate.

B D Thomas
Naval Law Division

11 May 72

1.    Provided that DTI are not going to pass on the cost of the survey to a non-exchequer body, costs should be recorded, and the bill rendered, on an Exchequer Department basis.

2.   DMS referred next to state requirements for the purpose of the estimate referred to in para 5 of MI 15 May 1972.

J.H. Monte
For head of FI(n)

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on December 28, 2012, 14:07:50
M.3

NL

DMS(N) cannot give an overall figure for the cost of this survey as only part of the effort is his financial responsibility.

2,  The **** rate for R.M.A.S. FELSTEAD has been provisionally assessed at £180.00 per day.  This figure should not be quoted until confirmed by F1(N).

? Morton
For DMS(N)

30 May 72.

M4

NL

1.    On the basis of 15 working days duration for the survey, the following estimate of costs on an Exchequer Department basis of repayment is provided:-

Services ofRMAS Felsted @ £180 per day (£160 per M3 plus 10% to inc fuel oil and water consumed)£2,700
Dover Boom Defence Depot£150
Clearance Diving Team from HMS VERNON (Spl Allces plus T & S only)£450
£3,300

2.    Will NL advise when in June this repayment service is to take place in order that DGDA/11A may liaise with administrative authorities as necessary.

3.   This file has been dealt with promptly when received by this Department, which was subsequent to the deadline specified by NL.

4.   Copy of this minute goes in advance to F1C(N).

?. M. Halt.
Director General of Defence Accounts

June 1972.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on December 28, 2012, 19:43:00
DMS(N) – AD Ops

To ponder the attached correspondence.  I feel that we should ask DTI to make a reply roughly on the lines of the following “As I explained to Amda Marine in my letter of 20 July 1972, we did not wish to proceed with their offer for two main reasons.  The first is that the Royal Navy already owns equipment of the type offered.  This is obviously an important reason and I am sure that you would agree we must make every effort to safeguard the tax payers interest.  This, even if, in the judgement of the Navy’s experts – amongst the most experienced in the world, this equipment was necessary it would not, in any event, have come from Amda Marine Consultants.
In the event for various technical reasons the Ministry of Defence (Navy) decided against the use of underwater TV on this occasion.
There were various reasons for this decision, of which the poor visibility was only one, and I see no reason to suppose that the MoD are wrong.  Indeed, all the indications are that the Survey was completed successfully and it was certainly finished ahead of schedule.

If you agree with this draft your early comments would be appreciated.

Brian D Thomas.
Naval Law Division
7th August 1972
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on December 29, 2012, 15:59:00
Meeting to be held in Room 3/8A, Sunley House on Wednesday 15 November 1972 to discuss the latest position regarding the wreck of the SS “Richard Montgomery” in the light of the recent diving survey.

Agenda

1.   Consideration of the Diving Survey Report and of the changes it reveals in the wreck.
2.   Implications of the report on the existing policy of non-interference with the wreck.
3.   Discussion of recent measures taken to further safeguard the wreck and of any other possible action to this end.
4.   Report by Mr. Hawkins of ERDE on the progress of the Working Party to consider the Dry Dock proposal.
5.   Any other business.



Superintendent of Diving
Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit
c/o HMS Vernon, Portsmouth

5 September 1972

Head of Naval Law Branch
Ministry of Defence
Old admiralty Building
London

The director of Marine services (Naval)
Ministry of Defence
Foxhill
Bath

The Flag Officer Medway
HM Naval Base
Chatham

Survey of the Wreck SS “Richard Montgomery”

1.   The survey required by Reference A was completed on Wednesday 26 July 1972.
2.   It was carried out by Lt Cdr J C Naquin USN, a fully qualified salvage officer, Mr D Bloy, salvage Officer diver, and a mixed team of RN, USN and DMS divers.  Valuable assistance was also afforded by the Medway Ports Authority.
3.   The directive for the survey required that an examination be made of the hull, deck and upper works to assess damage.  That the sea bed be surveyed out to a distance of 30 metres in all directions from the wreck to ascertain the spillage of explosive items, if any.  Entry into the wreck was specifically forbidden.
4.   This report was compiled and agreed by the department of the Superintendent of Diving for the RN and the Officer in Charge HM salvage Depot, Dover, for the DMS Dept.
5.   All slack waters occurring in daylight hours were worked, including the weekend.  No time was lost due to foul weather apart from the first day.
6.   The operation is considered to have been a particular success, both in the results achieved and as an example of the results possible when close co-operation is exercised between the RN diving and DMS organisations.
7.   Details of costing have been forwarded to DGDA under separate cover.

A. G. Worsley
Commander Royal Navy
Superintendent of Diving

D Morrice
Chief Salvage Officer
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on December 30, 2012, 13:32:09
SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY” – SURVEY REPORT

DateNarrative
16/7RMAS “FELSTED” sailed from Dover to Sheerness.
17/7Divers and equipment embarked in “Felsted”.  Visual, surface survey of area carried out.  Weather unsuitable for survey by divers.
18/7Diving survey commenced.  Soundings at 10 ft intervals around the wreck from sea bed to deck-edge, sea bed to water level and deck-edge to water level started from both ends of wreck using two teams of divers.
19/7Soundings continued and double checked.  Loose debris on deck and sea bed examined and identified.
20/7Hull survey commenced with two teams from both ends of wreck simultaneously.  Distance in break of wreckage measured and double checked.  This was found to be 30 ft, and increase of 6 ft since the 1965 survey.  The silt mound previously existing was found to have piled against the open ends of the wreckage, tending to seal open compartments, thus preventing spillage and leaving a gulley.
21-23/7The weekend tides were worked.  The hull survey was continued.  The ship’s side was completed, mainly by divers’ touch due to the poor visibility.  Deterioration of the structure was identified and double checked by the use of separate divers.
24/7The deck survey was commenced and completed by divers for the purpose of identifying fissuring, deterioration and evaluation of obstructions and debris.
25/7The sea bed survey was commenced and completed out to a distance of 30 metres in all directions from the wreck using two teams of divers simultaneously.  No spillage of explosives were found nor any other items of significance.  Measurements to determine the angle of heel of the individual parts of the wreck were taken by inclinometer.  The hell was to starboard and in the forward section was found to have increased by 4 degs. since the 1965 survey.  In the after section 14 degs. was measured – a decrease of one degree.  In addition 35 bottom samples were taken.
26/7Spot dives were conducted for the purpose of positively identifying sonar contacts plotted by HMS NURTON earlier in the year.  No contact was identified as an object which might have emanated from RICHARD MONTGOMERY.
27/7De-briefing discussions were held, equipment de-serviced and loaded for return to base.
28/7RMAS Felsted sailed from Sheerness for Dover.
Note: Due to industrial dispute it was necessary to hire commercial vehicles to transport RN diving equipment to and from Portsmouth.  This cost was borne by HMS VERNON for the outward and HMS PEMBROKE for the inward journeys.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on December 31, 2012, 16:08:12
APPRECIATION OF THE PRESENT STATE OF THE WRECK

Evidence of rusting of the ship’s side plating was found, in general, to be of the order of 3/16” externally.  As the water inside the wreck is comparatively stagnant and probably contaminated by chemicals from the explosive, internal deterioration is incalculable.  The fissure reported in the area of No.2 Hold port side in the 1965 survey was confirmed.  It was found to be about ½” wide and extended from deck-edge to the top of the silting, a distance of 10 feet.  It was not possible to determine the extent beyond that.  The split previously reported in the area of No.2 Hold starboard side was located and found to be 1½” wide and to extend approximately 18” above the silt.  Extent below that level interminable.  The fissure previously reported in the area of the Engine Room starboard side was not located due to an increase in the height of the silt level of approximately 8 feet.

At deck level there was wide distribution of debris caused by collapse of derricks and rigging.  Due to the list this collapse has taken place starboard and has given rise to overhanging obstructions extending outwards some 15 feet.  The deck plating, in general, appeared sound.

Extensive deterioration was found to have taken place in the superstructure and accommodation flat levels.  Collapse of this structure to starboard has commenced and eventual general collapse in indicated.  The situation will be aggravated by the action of the sea and weather.

The starboard anchor was found to be streamed and the port housed.

Number 1 Hold was found to be open with the hatch boards neatly stacked to one side.

The extensive tearing away of the bulkhead from between deck to bilge in the after section of the wreckage and the increase in height of the silt level in this area indicates that considerable internal silting of the machinery space will have taken place.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 01, 2013, 12:34:39
RN Costs Incurred During the Survey of “Richard Montgomery”

1.   
(a)   17 July 1972 to 28 July 1972 inclusive
(b)   
(1)   CDBA and SABA
(2)   CDBA 6 in number for 9 days
        SABA 6 in number for 9 days
(c)   Diving personnel comprised:

1 Lieutenant Commander
2 Chief Petty Officers CD1
2 Petty Officers CD1
5 Leading Seamen CD2

(1)   Daily SSP(D)
Officer and CD1s – 94p per day
CD2s – 83p per day
(2)   Traveling and subsistence expenses paid £452.29
(d)   Due to an industrial dispute it was necessary to hire commercial vehicles to transport diving equipment from Portsmouth to Sheerness and return.
For the outward journey this was paid by the Supply Officer, HMS VERNON and for the inward by the Supply Officer, HMS PEMBROKE

Outward - £11.41
Inward - £22.70 (includes driver)

(e)   
Stock GroupPatt No.DescriptionQuantity
0350571-3200Sisal Rope 1”2 coils
0350571-3170Polypropylene 1”1 coil
04733607CO2 Absorbent2 cases
0443443034Breathing Mixture 60% O2 40% N221,600 cu ft

Petrol for the running of outboard engines was obtained from civilian sources on fuel demand forms and totalled 18 gallons.

(f)   Nil
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 02, 2013, 21:16:31
DMS COSTS INCURRED DURING THE SURVEY OF “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”

   1.      Hire RMAS FELSTED      £2,015.00   
   2.      Services of Salvage Officer          
          13 days at £8.08 per day      105.04   
          plus 55% overheads      57.75   
          Subsistence      68.12   
   3.      Crew's Overtime          
          1 Mate Mechanic (as below)          
         2 Divers - 202 hours at £0.60 1/2 per hour      122.21   
         3 Abs - 259 hours at £0.55 1/2 per hour         143.74   
          plus 15% overheads      39.89   
   4.      Diving Pay          
          2 Divers - 34 tides at £1.50 per tide      51.00   
          plus 15% overheads      5.15   
   5.      Crew's Subssistence          
          6 crew for 12 nights at £1.93 per head per night      138.96   
   6.      Depth Allowance (Divers)      138.96   
          2 Divers      28.8   
          plus 15% overheads      4.32   
          Grand Total      £2,780.98   
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 03, 2013, 18:18:23
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3140_zpsad66f846.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: shoot999 on January 03, 2013, 19:14:23
DMS COSTS INCURRED DURING THE SURVEY OF “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”

   1.      Hire RMAS FELSTED      £2,015.00   

I would have been one of the ABs on the Felsted during this period. Although capable of small salvage tasks the Felsted would have been used as a diving platform during this operation. DMS was the Director of Marine Services which encompassed the PAS, RMAS and D606.
The other vessel used on this task regularly was the Kinloss. A number of articles were published both locally and nationally during 78 about the Kinloss and its involvement with the Montgomery.
The lads who worked in the RMAS keep a facebook page going; namely Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service Association Devonport. where a number of the said articles can be viewed.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Bobdonk on January 03, 2013, 22:01:02
Thanks for the info shoot999

Here is a link to the scans and photos :
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.463292473707172&type=1
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 04, 2013, 12:44:00
As usual I have managed to post the documents in the wrong order….

So here are some earlier ones that are part of the run up to the survey.



Department of Trade & Industry (DTI)
Marine Division 3B
Sunley house 90 High Holborn London WC1

A Goodenough Esq.
Ministry of Defence
Naval Law Division
Old Admiralty Building
Whitehall
SW1

19th May 1972

Dear Goodenough,

WRECK OF THE SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”

Please refer to my letter of 18 April about the work to be carried out on the external diving survey by Naval divers.

We should be grateful if you could let us know what was agreed at the meeting held by you on 28 April so that we can circulate this information to the interested Departments and Authorities.

The following, which appear in the Report by the Southend Chamber of Trade, would seem to merit the attention of the diving survey and I should be glad if you would draw their attention to them –

5/5.   Investigate assumptions made.
6/2/1.   Study condition of various parts.
6/3/1.   Investigate possibility of further deterioration mentioned and of the bombs falling and tween decks collapsing.
6/3/2.   Confirm crack in No. 2 hold if this is not already covered in earlier surveys.
6/3/3.   Look for any sign of munitions having been dumped.
6/3/5.   See whether copper “degaussing” cable has gone if this has not been checked earlier.
6/3/6.   Check this statement.
7/3.      Look into statements made in last two paragraphs.
7/6.      Are white phosphorous bombs (smoke) still likely to be in wreck or dispersed?
7/10.    Are these fillings likely to be dry and effective?
8/2/4.   Is wreck in 2 or 3 sections?

It is appreciated that the diving survey will be a very difficult exercise and that visibility under sea may be bad.  It is accepted therefore that it may not be possible to investigate many of the above points but we have pinpointed them in the hope that some points can be clarified by the survey.  It is possible that earlier diving surveys may give the answer to some of the points.

In addition we take it that the survey will –

1.   Check the present condition of all parts of the wreck (particularly the hull below the water line).
2.   Check whether munitions have spilled out and are on the seabed in the vicinity.
3.   Look at the condition of any munitions visible.
4.   Obtain information required by Mr Hawkins, ERDE in connection with the dry dock proposal.
5.   Obtain information required by HRS (eg size of scour holes, state of sand changes since 1965).
6.   Comment on the possibility of clearing No. 1 hold without disturbing No. 2 hold.

Yours sincerely
A C T Slade
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 05, 2013, 19:38:38
16 June 1972

Dear Mr Goodenough,

WRECK OF THE SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”.

I hear from DTI Marine Branch that the proposed Diving Survey on the wreck of the SS RICHARD MONTGOMERY” is to take place on July 10th 1972.

It would be useful to the working party considering the explosive hazards of the ‘dry dock’ salvage proposal if the diving survey could obtain any information on the following questions.

1.   What is the apparent state of preservation of the decking and side plating?  Are there any rusted-through or obviously weakened areas?
2.   Are the hatches open or battened down?
3.   If the hatches are open what is the depth of water below the hatch level down to the silt level in the holds?
4.   Is the silt or sand forming the sea bed in the vicinity of the wreck of a soft nature, or firmly compacted?

Yours sincerely,
P.J. Harrod



21 June 1972

Dear Mr Thomas

Mr. S.J. Hawkins of ERDE has to us in connection with the copy of the Report on Salvage Operations on the “Richard Montgomery” by the then Assistant Mooring and Wreck raising Officer, Mr. J. W. Edwards, which you were good enough to send him recently.  He considers that there are discrepancies in this Report which lead him to suspect its accuracy but that some of the uncertainties as to precisely what cargo remains in the wreck might be resolved if copies of the original daily salvage reports, on which the Report was based, could be obtained.

If these daily salvage reports are still among your records or among those of your Salvage Officer then we should be very grateful if you could kindly let us have copies of them for onward transmission to Mr Hawkins.

Yours sincerely
Miss S J Witt.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 06, 2013, 10:56:06
Medway Ports Authority
Sheerness Docks
Sheerness

Dear Mr. Slade,

Wreck of the S.S. “Richard Montgomery”

Please find enclosed copies of a letter I have written to a Mr. H. Klacken and a report on an incident alleged to have taken place on 21st July, whilst the Admiralty salvage vessel “Felstead” was engaged in the diving survey.

I must strongly recommend that the incident be investigated and if the report proven, that disciplinary action follows.  I imagine that the person in charge of the craft was in possession of a Boatman’s Licence and that the craft is licenced.

Yours sincerely,

D. Gibbons
Harbour Master



Medway Ports Authority
Sheerness Docks
Sheerness

28th July, 1972.

Dear Sir,

Wreck of the “Richard Montgomery”

It has been brought to my attention that your passenger carrying vessel the “New Prince of Wales” did, on the 21st July, 1972, pass between the above wreck and the Admiralty Salvage vessel “Felstead” which was anchored in the vicinity of the wreck engaged in underwater operations.

Furthermore, it was reported that your vessel, paying no regard to the signs exhibited on the lightbuoys marking the wreck and on the wreck itself passed through a prohibited area.

You are advised that the action of the person in charge of your vessel showed a blatant disregard for the signals displayed by the “Felstead” in accordance with the International Collision Regulations and in consequence placed the lives of persons engaged in the underwater operations, mentioned above, in danger.

As a result, I find it necessary to bring the incident to the attention of those other Authorities concerned, and to warn you that disciplinary action may follow as a result thereof.

Yours faithfully,

D. Gibbons
Harbour Master
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 08, 2013, 13:31:34
Treasury Chambers
Great George Street, London S.W.1

9th February, 1965

Dear Miss Day,

Wreck of S.S. Richard Montgomery

We spoke on the telephone about your letter of 29th January, 1965.  I explained that while we were not unsympathetic to the proposal that you should carry out a survey of the Richard Montgomery, we felt that this might very well lend strength to the suggestion that you had a moral responsibility for the wreck even though you made it clear to the Port of London authority and the Medway conservancy Board that you did not accept such a view.  I asked, therefore, whether before proceeding with this work, it would be possible to establish once and for all with the Port of London Authority who was legally responsible for the wreck.  You explained that there was considerable local interest in this matter and indeed this had been much in evidence at the General Election.  You thought that the balance of advantage lay in proceeding with the survey before the issue became public once again.

I write to confirm Treasury agreement to the Navy Department carrying out this diving survey at an estimated cost of £1,000 on the understanding that it is made clear that you do not accept responsibility for the wreck and that the work is being undertaken without prejudice to your position on the general issue.  We would hope, also, that your Minister will find it possible to make this point in any answer he gives to Parliamentary Questions.

Yours sincerely,
D. A. Truman



Treasury Chambers
Great George Street, London S.W.1

21st January, 1969

Dear Gai***

Thank you for your letter of 7th January about the wreck of the S.S. Richard Montgomery.

I agree to the expenditure of up to £7,000 on a study of the effects of placing a blockship to protect the wreck.

I am a little surprised that even after a quarter of a century Navy Department Votes should still carry the financial responsibility for this wreck which is of a merchant ship and which is lying in waters which are in the jurisdiction of a Port authority.  I therefore ask that while this survey is being carried out a fresh study should be made of the future financial responsibility for the wreck.  I would not expect that any resulting transfer would affect the new financially responsible authority calling upon M.O.D. for technical advice whenever they needed it.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Slade.

Yours sincerely
R.E.Adams
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 11, 2013, 17:25:18
Civil Service Department
Whitehall London SW1

9th July 1969.

Covering Confidential.

Dear Slade,

Wreck of the S.S. “Richard Montgomery”

We spoke about your letter of 7th July dealing with responsibility for the wreck of the S.S. “Richard Montgomery” and I told you that as our interest is the complement grading of staff on the Board of Trade there did not appear to be any way in which I could help.

As I told you I would do, I duly spoke to out Machinery of Government Division here in the Civil service Department but, as I expected, they feel that they cannot arbitrate on particular issues of this sort; all they can do is deal with issues of whole functions as between departments.

I am afraid therefore that the upshot is that we in the CSD feel we cannot arbitrate here.  We really feel that the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Defence will have to sort this out between them.  If you are really quite unable to reach agreement, it is just possible that the Treasury Officer of Accounts for the Estimate Clerks Branch in the Treasury would be prepared to arbitrate on the basis of which vote would seem more appropriate for carrying the expenditure involved.

Yours sincerely,

P.A. Smith
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 12, 2013, 18:24:20
Ministry of Defence
Naval Law Division
Old Admiralty Building, Whitehall, London S.W.1

22 June 1972

M G Withers Esq
DM Division
Treasury Chambers
Great George Street
London SW1

Dear Withers

WRECK OF SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY” – DIVING SURVEY

At intervals over at least the last seven or eight years, attempts have been made to determine who should bear financial responsibility for the wreck of this 1944 US ammunition ship which is lying off Sheerness with several thousand tons of bombs on board.

It is, I think, clear from the attached correspondence that you do not consider MOD the appropriate Government Department to incur expenditure on the wreck, but we are now in the position of being asked by the DTI to carry out a diving survey for which they will not accept full financial responsibility.

The cost of this survey has been estimated at £3,300 on an Exchequer Department repayments basis and we have, of course, no financial provision for this.

Although the DTI have offered to make a contribution to the cost of this survey, we feel that we should undertake this survey purely as their agents and I am therefore writing to ask you for a decision about this.

The survey is programmed for the beginning of July, so I would be grateful for an early reply.

Yours sincerely
Brian Thomas
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 13, 2013, 13:03:56
Procurement Executive, Ministry of Defence
Explosives Research and Development Establishment
Powdermill Lane Waltham Abbey Essex

26 June 1972

Dear Mr Goodenough,

Further to my letter of 16th June I would like to add two further questions for the survey (as discussed in my recent telephone conversation with Brian Thomas).

5.   How wide is the split across No. 2 Hold?  Is it large enough to permit access to the ‘tween deck space?

6.   Can access be obtained to No.3 ‘tween decks from the aft end of the forward section (i.e. where the vessel originally broke into two)?

Yours sincerely,
S J Hawkins



Treasury Chambers
Great George Street London

30th June 1972.

Dear Thomas

WRECK OF SS ‘RICHARD MONTGOMERY’

Thank you for your letter of 22 June regarding the proposed diving survey of the SS ‘Richard Montgomery’.

2.   We note that you have been asked by DTI to carry out a diving survey which you have estimated will cost £3,300.  DTI have offered to make a contribution towards the cost but will not accept full financial responsibility.

3.   The survey, and all current expenditure on the wreck, is aimed presumably at preventing an explosion which if it happened would give rise to a claim at law.  It seems to us that the Department which would have to meet any such claim should bear the costs of all current expenditure.  If it can be established that MOD would not have to meet any claim that might arise following the explosion of the wreck, then we should not expect MOD to meet or contribute to current costs, in particular the cost of this survey.

4.   Should you pending settlement of the point at issue feel bound to carry out this survey and bear any of the cost involved, it must be on a strictly without prejudice basis.

Yours sincerely

M G Withers
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 14, 2013, 12:11:46
Naval Law Division
Ministry of Defence
Old Admiralty Building Whitehall London SW1

4 July 1972

Wreck of SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY” – Diving Survey

You wrote to Thomas on 16 June, indicating that DTI was not prepared to meet the extra costs which MOD will incur in carrying out the further diving survey which your Department proposed and invited mine to undertake at your meeting on 28 March.  Although I appreciate that you were following the lone which DTI has taken in the protracted correspondence between our Departments on the question of financial responsibility for, the wreck which obliges us to offer such assistance as we can render as a philanthropic exercise in charity; indeed, there are those here who consider that the survey should not start until we have an assurance that DTI will accept the bill.

On the strength of the qualification in the third paragraph of your letter, we have however, sought a ruling from the Treasury.  As you know, the Treasury have in the past expressed doubts about the appropriateness of Defence Votes bearing the cost of whatever technical assistance MOD was able to provide.  Withers’ reply, of which a copy is attached, develops this line.  You will be aware from your copy of Street’s letter of 10 July 1969, addressed to Smith in the CSD that the Navy Department has no legal responsibility for the wreck.  This may also be the position of the DTI; but, given your responsibility for the general superintendence of all matters relating to wreck in UK under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, it seems to us that the DTI could well be involved in considering claims in the circumstances envisaged in Withers’ letter, whereas MOD could not.

Accordingly, in the light of this reply, and in the absence of any other body which has indicated a willingness to accept financial responsibility, it is our intention to submit a bill for the additional costs which will be incurred in carrying out the task to DTI for payment; it is likely to amount to some £3,300 for a survey lasting 15 days.  I trust that you will then be ready to settle without more ado; given the Treasury view on responsibility, we are bound to insist on satisfactory financial arrangements as a condition of providing such assistance.

P Archer
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 15, 2013, 14:08:58
Aruda Marine Consultants Limited
19-24 George Street, London W1R 9RE

11th July 1972

Private & Confidential

Dear Mr. Slade,

Further to our letter of today, and your conversation with Cmdr. Lovell Smith, we confirm the following points.

1.   The closed television, video tape recorder and back up equipment will be made available with a technician-diver at a nominal £60.00 per working day.  In the event of inclement weather, or any other reason, causing operations to be suspended, a standby rate of £20.00 per day will become effective.

2.   Video tape (1/2” Sony 40 mins. running time) will be supplied at cost plus 12½ %.

3.    We require a stable source of electricity 220 volt AC. 50 cycles.  If this cannot be supplied by the support vessel, a portable generator will be hired.  This will be to your account, at cost.

4.   Mobilisation and demobilisation of our personnel to your account.

5.   In the unlikely event that our equipment is damaged by the divers and the services of a specialist technician are required, his services will be passed on at cost.


Yours sincerely,
Gary F. E. Grose,
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 16, 2013, 14:37:13
Naval Law Division
Ministry of Defence

18 July 1972

Dear Mr Marlow

’RICHARD MONTGOMERY’ SURVEY – USE OF UNDERWATER TV

Thank you for your letter and the enclosures thereto.  The answer is that we do not want this equipment for two very good reasons – we have got out own and in any case in this survey it would not be terribly effective!

Perhaps you could gently tell Aruda Marine Consultants Ltd.

Yours sincerely
D. J. **ite[/centre]



13 July, 1972

Dear Sir

WRECK OF SS ‘RICHARD MONTGOMERY’

At a recent meeting between Ministers and the Southend Chamber of Trade the question of what could be done in order to strengthen the security of the wreck was discussed bearing in mind recent visits to the wreck by unauthorised persons.

The suggestion was made that perhaps something could be placed over the openings and cracks to prevent access to the contents and we should be grateful if you could look into the feasibility of this at the time of the diving survey so that the matter can be further considered.  It occurs to us that perhaps wire netting or even nylon netting might be a possibility.

Yours faithfully
A C T Slade
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 17, 2013, 14:08:07
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3160_zps368d380c.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3161_zpsb9102fe1.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 18, 2013, 08:37:29
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3158_zps7bb85058.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3159_zpsf827dbe7.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 18, 2013, 08:51:28
Medway Ports Authority
Proposed Requirements for Diving Survey.
Richard Montgomery

Drawing A/Form A
Depths taken from vessel’s deck to water surface.

Depths to be taken Port and Starboard as indicated on drawing to enable more accurate assessment of vessel’s list.

Drawing B/Form B
Bottom samples to be taken in positions indicated on drawing B (Scale 1/500), Chart A.

Drawing B, (Scale 1/500) Chart A1, samples to be taken in centre of each grid square shown.

Samples to be standard bottom samples, i.e. upper layer of sea-bed.

Drawing C/Form C
i   Diving investigation to ascertain accurate distance vessel has drifted apart.  Measurements from positions indicated on drawing.

ii   Determine position of collapsed booms and measure distance obstructions extend from vessel’s hull.

iii   Determine whether or not anchor cable exists.

iv   Determine whether or not propeller and rudder frame have collapsed.

v   Investigate and mark on drawing existing fissures, note any new fissures, etc.  Determine that vessel is still only in two sections.

vi   Note and mark on drawing any obstructions that exist detached from vessel.

vii   Determine conditions of vessel’s hull where visible, particular attention to areas just below water level.  Note conditions of masts.

viii   Note build-up of silt inside vessel’s holds and in any area open to the build-up of sediment.  Obtain sample, if possible, of silt from inside vessel.  Probe sediment around vessel’s hull to determine density of packed material.

Drawing D/Form D
Depths taken from sea-bed to surface in position indicated on drawing to determine depth of material build-up around vessel’s hull.

Depths to be taken close to vessel’s hull or to highest part of material if away from hull.

See also Form C (para viii) requirements.

Medway Ports Authority,
High Street,
Rochester,
Kent.

18th July 1972
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 18, 2013, 15:41:46
Medway Ports Authority
“Richard Montgomery” Wreck


Intrusion on M.O.D. Diving Survey By Passenger
Vessel “New Prince of Wales”

At approximately 1605 on Friday, 21st July, 1972 a report was received from Mr. Bloy, Admiralty Salvage Officer, in R.M.A.S.V. “Felsted” to the effect that the passenger vessel “New Prince of Wales” with a number of passengers on board, had passed between “Felsted” and the “Richard Montgomery” wreck, over the diving area.

With the assistance of Southend Coastguard it was established that the owner of the “New Prince of Wales” was Mr. H. Klacken, 385 Woodgrange Drive, Southend-on-Sea, telephone number, Southend-on-Sea 62134. The Skipper at the time of the incident was Mr. Conrad Valesco.

The above information was passed to Commander C.E.K. Robinson, R.N., Assistant Queens Harbour Master at H.M. Naval Base, Chatham.

At 1633 I telephoned the owner and informed him that the incident had occurred, cautioning him to instruct his Skipper to keep outside the distances shown on the buoys and the wreck, and to navigate with care when in that vicinity.

Assistant Harbour Master

21st July, 1972.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 19, 2013, 15:49:34
30 June 1972

CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Sir

WRECK OF SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”

I have been asked to reply to your letter of 12 June 1972 addressed to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry about the above wreck.

A review of the situation regarding the wreck was undertaken in 1971 by the Department in conjunction with other interested Departments and the Port Authorities concerned and they were advised that die to chemical reaction consequent on immersion munitions in the wreck were still unacceptably hazardous to remove.  In view of this and of the fact that the risk of spontaneous explosion is gradually receding it was decided to continue to leave the wreck undisturbed.  A diving survey is to be carried out this summer after which the situation will be further reviewed.

We have noted your interest in this matter for which we are most grateful and should the occasion arise for such services would bear your company’s name in mind.

Yours faithfully

A C T Slade
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 20, 2013, 22:56:55
From Sir Bernard Braine, M.P.

1st August, 1972

Rt. Hon. Michael Noble, M.P.,
Minister for Trade,
Department of Trade and Industry,
1, Victoria Street,
SW1H 0ET.

My dear Michael,

I enclose some correspondence which is self-explanatory.

I would be grateful if you could let me know why the Ministry of Defence considered that the use of under water telerecording equipment would not be very effective in this present survey.  There must be a reason for this, and I find it difficult to understand why it cannot be given.  The only effect of a brush-off of this kind is to heighten the suspicion that this matter is still not being handled in a business-like way.  This may be unfair, but it is the conclusion that has been reached both by the consultants concerned, and by the Southend Chamber of Trade representatives who came to see you recently.

I would be glad if you would advise me what I can say in reply.



Sir Bernard Braine, MP
House of Commons

14 August 1972

Thank you for your letter of 1 August enclosing the attached copies of correspondence about the offer from Aruda Marine Consultants Ltd to provide underwater telerecording equipment for the recent diving survey of the SS “Richard Montgomery”.

As we explained to Aruda Marine Consultants Ltd, the Ministry of Defence (Navy) themselves own underwater telerecording equipment and they have informed us that this is of similar type and performance to that offered by the Company.

In the event the Ministry of Defence (Navy), who have a great deal of expertise decided against the use of underwater TV on this occasion because of the poor visibility which was often down to six inches and averaged under eighteen inches.

Cranley Onslow
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 31, 2013, 12:55:49
Onto the next folder  :)

HYDRAULICS RESEARCH STATION

Wreck of the S.S. Richard Montgomery off Sheerness

An investigation into proposed schemes
For protecting the wreck

January 1971



Contents

Page
Summary
Introduction1
Sheerness Middle Sand2
The bank before 1944 (1890-1937)2
The bank after 1944 (1947-1968)3
Tidal velocity and flow patterns4
Protection by blockships5
The model6
Model test results6
Discussion of model tests8
Effect of blockships on the Medway Channel10
Protection by a barrier around the wreck10
Conclusions13
References
Appendix I  The effect of the proposed barrier upon the Medway Channel
Appendix II  Some possible risks involved in constructing a barrier




Contents (Cont’d)

Figures

1.   Location map.
2.   Bank contours before and after wreck.
3.   Bank cross sections before and after wreck.
4.   Location of blockships.
5.   Vertical movement of model vessel initially in two halves at 80° to flow.
6.   Scoured length along the sides of model vessel initially at 80° to flow.
7.   Vertical movement of model vessel initially at 80° to flow.
8.   Scoured length along the sides of model vessel initially at 45° to flow.
9.   Vertical movement of model vessel initially at 45° to flow.
10.   Plan of proposed barrier.

Plates

I   Model vessel in two halves initially at 80° to flow.
II   Full length model vessel initially at 80° to flow.



Summary

The investigation described in this report was made for the Ministry of Defence (Naval Home Division) in connection with the hydraulic aspects of providing some form of protection to the S.S. Richard Montgomery, an ammunition ship wrecked on a sandbank to the north of Sheerness.

Part of the investigation was concerned with an analysis of Admiralty charts of the area before and after the vessel was wrecked to establish the long term trends of movement on the bank and the effect of the wreck upon them.  A second part of the investigation dealt with the existing conditions with particular regard to tidal flow.  A third part of the investigation dealt with a model study of the way a vessel sinks into an erodible bed under tidal flow, with a view to assessing the use of blockships to protect the wreck.  The fourth part of the investigation dealt with the hydraulic problems associated with building a barrier around the wreck.

The investigation showed that the use of blockships would not be feasible but that a barrier would be practical from an hydraulic point of view providing certain safeguards are observed.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 31, 2013, 16:38:50
Wreck of the S.S. Richard Montgomery off Sheerness

An investigation into proposed schemes for protecting the wreck.

Introduction

In August 1944 the ammunition ship, S.S. Richard Montgomery, dragged its anchor and went aground on Sheerness Middle Sand some 1½ miles off Sheerness (Fig.1).  Since that time it has broken into two halves; these have separated and sunk into the scour holes that have formed around them.  By May 1965, when a diving survey was made of the wreck, the forward half had sunk about 46 ft into the bank and the aft half about 38 ft.

The wreck lies some 700 ft to the north of the Medway channel and would be a hazard to shipping drifting off course on to the bank.  The depth of water on the bank is about 30 ft at high water springs and the possibility of large vessels drifting and hitting the wreck thereby causing an explosion cannot be ruled out.  The suggestion has been made that the wreck could be protected either by blockships placed across the most likely lines that drifting vessels would tale or by a barrier built around the wreck.

In order to assess the feasibility of these schemes from an hydraulic point of view an investigation has been made to determine:

1.   The long term changed in the form of the bank
2.   The tidal flow pattern in the area
3.   The mechanism whereby the wreck has sunk into the bank

Sheerness Middle Sand

Sheerness Middle Sand extends eastward from the Isle of Grain to the north of the Medway Channel.  It is composed of a fine silty sand which flocculates on settling.  The degree of flocculation depends on the salinity of the water and hence upon the freshwater particularly from the River Medway.  With high river discharge the material on the bank is readily transported and large changes can occur during short periods of time.  This factor adds to the difficult of determining long term changes in the form of the bank and for this reason charts must be looked at as a whole to get a general impression of the changes taking place.

Admiralty charts if the area during the periods 1890-1937 and 1947-1968 (1) have been examined to assess (i) the long term changes taking place on the bank and (ii) the effect of the wreck on the bank.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 01, 2013, 17:09:26
The bank before 1944 (1890-1937)

Contours of the bank for the years 1907, 1923, 1929 and 1937 (Fig. 2a) show that the long term trend is one of accretion.  Between 1907 and 1923 this was considerable and was marked by the appearance of the 1 fathom contour.  For the remaining period, 1923-1937, accretion on the bank was much slower.

Sections across the bank on lines of longitude 0° 46’ 30” and 0° 47’ 00” (Fig. 3 a(1) and b(1)) show this trend.  They also show that the north side of the bank is slowly eroding and the south side is accreting.

There is no reason to doubt that these trends would have continued up to the time of the wreck and this is confirmed by the bank contours, particularly below the 3 fathom contour, measured subsequent to the wreck.

The bank after 1944 (1947-1968

Contours of the bank for the years 1947, 1959, 1965 and 1968 (Fig. 2b) show that the main change subsequent to 1947 has been in the vicinity of the wreck.  Deep scouring has occurred at both ends of the wreck and this has persisted up to 1968.  In general, erosion of the bank occurred during the period 1947-1965, followed by some accretion up to 1968.

Sections of the bank along the lines of longitude 0° 46’ 30” and 0° 47’ 00” (Figs. 3 a(2) and b(2)) show the changed in profile that occurred landward of the wreck since 1947.  Immediately landward of the wreck accretion occurred up to 1959 followed by considerable erosion up to 1965 and then by some accretion up to 1968 (Fig. 3 b(2)).  Further landward the same trends can be seen (Fig. 3 a(1)) except that erosion began earlier, subsequent to 1947.  In general, the same trends are apparent seaward of the wreck but to a lesser degree.

The reason for these periods of accretion, erosion and accretion is to be found in the changes in the flow pattern that occurred around the wreck as it sank into the sandbank.  Initially, the wreck sat on top of the sandbank causing the tidal flow to separate around it thus giving rise to areas of slack water in its lee where accretion could occur.

The flow of water past the bow and stern of the wreck gave rise to turbulent eddies which produced scour holes.  The subsequent movement of material into and out of these scour holes resulted in the wreck hogging and breaking up.  As the two halves of the wreck sank into the bank and separated, more flow occurred over the decks and through the gap and eroded the sand that have previously been deposited.  Further sinking of the two halves of the wreck resulted in it having a smaller effect upon the flow and thus the general trend of accretion, noted prior to 1944, has been re-established and should continue.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 05, 2013, 12:16:58
Tidal Velocity and Flow Patterns

A hydrographic and geophysical survey of the area in the vicinity of the wreck was made by the Hydrographic Department of the Ministry of Defence during the summer of 1969.  The data from this survey, which included core sampling from the bank, sub-bottom profiling, side scan sonar, current metering and float tracking, is held by the Hydrographic Department.  A brief description and analysis of the current metering and float tracking is given below.

Four stations were set up around the wreck as current metering stations.  At each of these stations the variation of stream velocity and direction with both depth and time was recorded.  These results were used to establish the times at which maximum flood and ebb velocities occurred.  At these times and also during the period of high water for the spring tides of the 17th and 18th April 1969 float tracking was undertaken using an aerial photography technique.

Sub-surface floats with a drogue set at 15 ft depth and foam streaks injected just below the water surface from a launch were photographed at intervals from an aeroplane flying at an altitude of about 4 000 ft.  These photographs were analysed and charts of velocity vectors, at the surface and at 15 ft depth, at given times were produced.

The flood and ebb velocity vectors near the wreck lie approximately along the same line; about 068° (true).  The surface flood velocities in the immediate vicinity of the wreck reached a maximum value of 1.15 m/s whereas the maximum surface ebb velocity was 1.0 m/s.  The general impression is that the velocities for both flood and ebb are reasonably uniform across the bank but they increase towards the Medway Channel particularly during the flood tide.

At high water there is an anticlockwise movement in the area with velocities generally less than 0.2 m/s near the wreck.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Benjidog on February 05, 2013, 18:44:17
There is a more recent report on Richard Montgomery from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that you can find at this link http://assets.dft.gov.uk/foi/dft-f0007971/f0007971-summary-report.pdf (http://assets.dft.gov.uk/foi/dft-f0007971/f0007971-summary-report.pdf). It contains a number of images of the current disposition of the wreck.

The report is based on surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009 and its conclusion are below:

5. Conclusions

5.1 The overall conclusions drawn from the 2008 and 2009 surveys are that, in general, the hull appears to be reasonably stable. The overall picture is one of slow but continual deterioration, however, some areas of the hull appear to display evidence of a more accelerated rate of deterioration.

5.2 One of the main areas of concern highlighted by both surveys is the area across hold 2 in the forward section of the wreck. Tween deck and lower hold 2 contain a mixture of munitions, including more than 2000 cases of cluster fragmentation bombs (fuzed and unfuzed), nearly six hundred 500lb SAP bombs (TNT) and over one thousand 1000lb SAP bombs (TNT).

5.3 Whilst much of the hull appears to be deteriorating relatively slowly, one of the main concerns is that these specific areas of accelerated deterioration might lead to structural collapse or allow the escape of munitions. Although some munitions studies have been carried out, these are not sufficient to predict with any certainty what the effect of significant structural collapse would be on the munitions cargo.

5.4 The long-standing policy has been one of monitoring with non-intervention. This is for two main reasons: 1) regular surveys have shown the hull to be reasonably stable; 2) although there are many unknowns, expert opinion has suggested that the munitions cargo is likely to be stable if left undisturbed and the effect of more intrusive work is difficult to predict. Therefore, only limited intrusive work has been carried out (the most recent being 2003 ultrasonic hull thickness analysis and 1999 remedial work to remove loose sections of masts and derricks). However, it has always been noted that there may come a point when the risks associated with non-intervention will become greater than the risks associated with a carefully planned intervention operation (such as dealing with escaping cargo material, or imminent or actual significant structural collapse).

5.5 Whilst significant structural collapse does not appear to be imminent, surveys suggest that this prospect is getting closer.


So is this a major danger or will the contents of her hull gradually disperse? I don't think anyone knows the answer to this. What is clear is that there is (or at least was) over 1.5 Megatons of explosives on board.

Richard Montgomery is just one of the unpleasant legacies of war - in various places off the coast of several countries are areas where vast quantities of far more toxic materials were dumped including shells containing poison gas and even sarin. These may also come back to haunt us......
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 06, 2013, 19:30:32
Protection by Blockships

Protection of the wreck could be achieved by placing blockships on the sandbank across the most likely lines that drifting vessels could take.  These lines of approach shown in Fig. 4 indicate that 3 blockships would be required; to the east, the north-west and the south-west of the wreck with the probability of a fourth to the south east.  Assuming that the scour holes around each blockship would be similar to those around the present wreck then the block-ships should be at least 1 000 ft from the wreck to prevent any serious interaction of scouring.

The fact that the present wreck sat initially upon the bank and ultimately sank into it, to a depth of about 40 ft, raises the question as to what would happen to a blockship under similar circumstances.  This requires a knowledge of the process by which the vessel sinks into erodible material.  To determine this a series of model tests were undertaken in a channel with a scalar vessel sitting initially on a flat erodible bed and subjected to oscillatory flow.

The Model

The model tests were idealised and undertaken to study the general movement of material from around the vessel and its model of sinking.

The model vessel was built as a rectangular hulk to a scale of 1:200 and was 25” long 3.5” beam and 2.1” high.  The tests were made in a channel 8 ft wide using an erodible bed of granulated anthracite.  An initial test was made with the vessel cut in two halves and at 80° to the flow (Plate I).  Tests were then made with the full length vessel at 80°, 45° and 10° to the flow.  Each test, started with the erodible bed screeded level, was run with uniform flow of about 5 ins/sec; the direction being changed every 30 minutes.  The velocity for general bed movement but resulted in velocities around the vessel high enough to produce scouring.  The period of 30 mins was chosen to represent the flood and ebb flow.  At each change of direction of the flow, measurements were made of the undermining of the vessel along each side and also the level of both ends of the vessel.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 08, 2013, 16:42:08
Model test results

(a)   Vessel in two halves at 80° to flow.  The sinking of the two halves into the erodible bed is shown in Fig. (5) and Plate I.  The initial rate of sinking was high but decreased as the vessel sank and ultimately reached a stable position at about 33% of its height.  During the test both halves turned about their three axes and when the test was finished they had a tilt of about 2° from the horizontal in “pitch”, 3° in “roll”, and one half had turned so that it was at 88° to the flow.  The two halves had also separated by about 1”.

(b)   Full length vessel at 80° to flow.  The rate of undermining along the sides of the vessel is shown in Fig. (6) and its rate of sinking in Fig. (7).  Undermining of the vessel was steady and uniform until after about 6 ½ hours the vessel was sitting on a lens of material about 2” long (Fig. 6).  At this point it started to sink and its rate of sinking (Fig. 7) was similar to that for the two halves (Fig. 5).  Its equilibrium depth however was greater, about 45% of its height.  The vessel sank in a series of pitching movements (Plate II) and at the end of the test it had a residual pitch of about 1°.  During the test the vessel slowly tilted about its longitudinal axis to a maximum of 5°.  At the end of the test the vessel was at 89° to the flow, this movement started when the vessel started to sink (Plate IIK).

(c)   Full length vessel at 45° to flow.  Undermining of the vessel (Fig. 8) was slower and was hindered by deposition of material from the scour holes along the sides.  After about 4 hours scouring occurred under the centre of the vessel.  This rapidly increased and when it met with the undermined part at one end the vessel moved about ½” in the direction of tilt.  The sinking of the vessel (Fig. 9) was at about the same initial rate as the previous tests but after 14 hours running, when the test was terminated, it has sunk to nearly 50% of its height.

(d)   Full length vessel at 10° to flow.  Undermining of the vessel was erratic due to the deposition of material alongside.  The vessel tilted and sank slightly after about 7 hours.  It was soon apparent that the rate of sinking would be very slow and as a result the test was abandoned.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 09, 2013, 14:04:31
Discussion of model tests

The model tests have shown that the mechanism whereby the vessel has sunk into the sandbank was by the formation of scour holes at both needs of the vessel, due to the shedding of turbulent eddies.  This was followed by a progressive scouring of material from underneath the vessel until the length of material on which it was resting could not support its weight.  At that point the vessel sank into the scour holes, this process continued until an equilibrium position was reached.

The following points are to be noted:

(1)   Where the velocity of flow is uniform along the length of a vessel undermining will occur uniformly from both ends giving rise to a situation in which the vessel is supported on a small lens of material prior to settling.  In this position it will be easily turned or moved either by small variations in velocity along its length or by impact from other vessels.  It will also be subjected to hogging forces.  The two halves of the present wreck are angled to each other and this was also observed in the model tests where the velocity differential along the vessel was only 4%.

(2)   The way in which the model vessel was undermined indicated that this phenomenon will occur to a vessel of any length in similar circumstances provided that the increased velocities around it are sufficient to move the bed material.

(3)   Where the velocity of flow is not uniform along the length of a vessel undermining will occur more rapidly from one end.  This will ultimately result in the vessel tilting and the possibility exists that with a large velocity difference the vessel could slide into the region of the higher flow.  Blockships placed between the present wreck and the Medway Channel would be subjected to this effect and could slide towards or into the Channel where the velocities are higher.  It should be noted that the two halves of the present wreck had parted by 40 ft up to May 1965.  This effect occurred in the test with the vessel in two halves and also in the test with the full length vessel at 45° to the flow.

(4)   Differences of velocity in either direction, i.e. in flood or ebb, produced different rates of scour along each side of the vessel and this gave rise to a lateral tilting of the vessel as it sank.  The present wreck has been subjected to higher flood velocities than ebb velocities and this has produced a starboard tilt of the two halves of the wreck of between 10° and 15°.  In the model tests where the difference in velocity in either direction was about 5% the vessel tilted about 5°.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: busyglen on February 09, 2013, 14:38:19
This is getting more interesting.

S4.

I agree, they certainly have looked at all angles, and it's comforting to know that all of this has been done. 

Thanks Kyn, due to your interest, you have been able to uncover a lot more than I could ever have imagined. :)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 09, 2013, 14:43:00
There is still loads to go!  And my next trip up National Archives will provide some more ;)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 10, 2013, 19:01:35
Effect of blockships on the Medway Channel

Bed movement.  The effect of a blockship upon the stability of the bed of the Medway Channel is difficult to assess.  On the basis that the present wreck has had little appreciable effect it would be assumed that blockships placed to the N.W. and E of the wreck, as shown in Fig. 4, would also have little effect.  Blockships placed to the south of the wreck may have some effect particularly as the local scour around them could extend into the Medway Channel.  It seems likely that material scoured from around the blockships would be carried away by the higher velocities and little deposition would occur in the Channel.

Tidal flow.  Navigational difficulties could be presented to small vessels due to the possibility that blockships near the channel angled to the flow could produce cross currents in the Medway Channel.  This phenomenon was evident in the tests with the vessel at 45° to the flow where a strong directional effect on the flow downstream was produced.  It is well known that once a jetting effect is established it persists for a considerable distance in the direction of flow.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 11, 2013, 19:32:57
PROTECTION BY A BARRIER CONSTRUCTED AROUND THE WRECK

An alternative solution to the problem is to encircle the wreck with a barrier which could provide complete protection.

An outline proposal of such a scheme is shown in Fig. 10 and is based on the following considerations:

(1)   In plan the shape is elliptical to give a streamlining effect and thus reduce interference with the existing tidal flow.  Appendix I contains a note on the effect that such a structure would have upon the tidal flow.

(2)   The alignment of the major axis is along the line 068° (true) which is the direction of the maximum flood and ebb velocities in the vicinity of the wreck.
The physical dimensions of the barrier, i.e. the length and width in plan, the cross sectional shape of the mound and the size of material to be used will have to be determined by considering the following points.

(i)   The plan dimensions will be determined by how near to the wreck tipping of placing operations can be allowed.  The proposed barrier, which has a width of 1 00 ft was based upon two criteria; keeping clear of the existing scour holes and being centred about the wreck.  If the scour holes could be filled in, say, with sand, then the barrier could be built nearer to the wreck i.e. be smaller in width and length.  It is understood that the majority of the remaining explosives are in the forward half of the wreck, if this is so then the south side of the barrier could be placed much closer to the stern half of the wreck thus reduced its influence upon the Medway Channel.  Appendix II contains a note on the possible risks involved.

(ii)   The top of the proposed barrier will have to be determined from a consideration of the degree of protection required, i.e. full protection would require the crest of the barrier to be near high water.  Since, however, the risk of the wreck being hit is reasonably small consideration could be given to building the crest at a lower level.  The wreck has sunk into the sandbank to such an extent that its decks are nearly flush with the top of the bank and consideration might therefore be given to removing the masts and superstructure to a given level, see Appendix II.  It should be noted that the lower crest of the barrier the less will be its effect upon the tidal flow.  In this respect it may be further noted that maximum flood velocities occur about 4 hours before high water when the tidal level is just below mean water (+ 10.3 ft).

(iii)   The cross section of the proposed barrier and the material of which it would be built will have to be determined rom a consideration of wave conditions and the speed and mass of a vessel that is likely to drift towards the wreck.  One solution would be to use large material as this would give a massive but porous barrier thus reducing its effect upon the tidal flow.  Assuming that the barrier has a side slope of 1 in 2.5 and was exposed to waves 10 ft high, a double layer of 2 ton boulders would be required.  Consideration might also be given to the use of tetrapods or some form of pre-cast concrete block.  These would have the advantage that they could be placed rather than tipped thus resulting in the minimum of vibrations at the wreck, see Appendix II.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 13, 2013, 14:01:26
CONCLUSIONS

The main conclusions to be drawn from this investigation are as follows:

1.   The wreck of the S.S. Richard Montgomery appears to have almost reached a stable position and the process of accretion on the bank, noted prior o 1944, has been re-established.

2.   Blockships placed on the bank to give protection to the wreck will ultimately sink into the bank.

3.   Blockships placed between the wreck and the Medway Channel will be undermined and may in the process slide towards the Channel.

4.   A protecting barrier around the wreck is feasible from an hydraulic standpoint although great care will have to be taken both in the design and in the construction of such a structure.

5.   The presence of a barrier encircling the wreck will give an increase in velocity extending across the Medway Channel.  This effect can be minimised by building a streamlined structure aligned to the flow as far away as possible from the channel.

REFERENCES

1.   Admiralty Chart No. 3683 – Sheerness and Approaches 1890-1968.

2.   Kotschin, N.J., Kibel, I.A., Rose, N.W.  Theoretische Hydromechanik Vol. 1  Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1954.

3.   Medway Ports Authority – Surveys of Approaches to River Medway – Drawing Nos. 1000 and 1001 (1963-1968).


Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 15, 2013, 14:31:49
APPENDIX I

The effect of the proposed barrier upon the Medway Channel

The proposed barrier around the wreck will result in an increase in the tidal flow in its immediate vicinity.  The magnitude of these effects will depend very largely upon the plan size of the structure, upon its crest level and to a lesser extent upon its porosity.

The greatest increase in velocity will occur on a line along the extended minor axis.  This increase can be calculated making the assumptions that the structure is solid, has vertical walls and extends about the water level.   The velocity at any point along the extended minor axis is given by the equation (2):

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3674.jpg)
This equation has been evaluated for the following three cases; a circle, a 2:1 ellipse and a 4:1 ellipse, each having a value of b = 1000 ft.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Ted Ingham on February 24, 2013, 12:27:20
A few photographs taken of the Richard Montgomery from my boat in the 1980/90's.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Ted Ingham on February 24, 2013, 12:38:50
A photograph of the sister ship to the Richard Montgomery the Jeremiah O'Brien.
Both were launched in June 1943.
She was on passage from Chatham Maritime to the Pool of London and is seen
here approaching Garrison Point,Sheerness.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 24, 2013, 15:02:35
%inVelocity
Distance from, Major Axis along Minor Axis y ft.Multiples of semi minor axisCircle2:1 Ellipse4:1 Ellipse
5001.01005025
7501.5443521
10002.0252418
12502.5161815
15003.0111313
17503.581011
20004.0689

These results show the value of streamlining the structure and thus minimising its effects.  They also show that reducing the plan size of the structure reduces the extent of its effects.  For example a 2:1 elliptical shape  1000 ft wide gives an increase in velocity of 24% on the north side of the Medway Channel approximately 1000 ft from the centre of the wreck, whereas with a width of 500 ft the increase in velocity at the same point would only be 8%.

It must be stressed that if the barrier is made fairly low and porous then the values in the above table could be significantly reduced.

The maximum interference by the barrier will occur at maximum flood velocity i.e., at about mean water.  If the barrier is built with its crest at this level or higher then the increases in velocity, of the order given in the table above, could result in some scouring of the bank and perhaps part of the Medway Channel directly opposite the barrier.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 28, 2013, 15:49:26
APPENDIX II

Some possible risks involved in constructing a barrier

Suggestions have been made in this report with respect to the proposal to build a barrier around the wreck which of implemented may involve setting up undue vibrations and therefore the possibility of triggering off an explosion.
They are:

(a)   The proposal to fill the scour holes with sand.

(b)   The cutting away of the masts and superstructure of the wreck.

(c)   The tipping or placing of rock or precast blocks near the wreck.

With respect to ‘(a)’ it should be noted that considerable changes are taking place in the scour holes as a result of tidal flow.  Surveys around the wreck made by the Medway Port Authority in July/August and October/November 19683 show that between the two surveys a large column of material was removed from the landward side of the wreck and deposited into the scour holes filling them on average by at least 10 ft.  It would therefore seem that carefully filling the scour holes with sand is not likely to be dangerous.

With respect to points ‘(b)’ and ‘(c)’ it should be noted that breaking waves on the wreck particularly at low water could produce large shock forces and vibrations which would be readily transmitted to the explosives.  It might be considered advisable to set up an accelerometer on the wreck to measure the maximum magnitude of wave induced vibration and then to see if the work under points ‘(b)’ and ‘(c)’ above could be undertaken without exceeding the maximum vibration.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 28, 2013, 15:56:59
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3677.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3678.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3679.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3680_renamed_1054.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3681.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: sheppey_bottles on February 28, 2013, 16:45:42
Here is a copy of an old Thames/Medway estuary chart for this area showing buoys etc..

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 06, 2013, 13:23:39
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3682.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3683.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3684.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3685.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3686.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 07, 2013, 08:46:56
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3688.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3689.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3690.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3691.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3692.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3693.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3694.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 11, 2013, 21:37:53
8th March, 1971.

Capt. D. Gibbons,
Harbour Master,
Medway Ports Authority,
Authority’s Offices,
Sheerness Docks,
Sheerness, Kent.

I enclose two cuttings which I am sure you will have seen about the extraordinary ability of ships to run into even the most obvious and well established seamarks.  These instances, and the recent spate of disasters in the Channel, do make me wonder whether we are not risking our necks in accepting the wreck of the “Montgomery” on our doorstep.  If her cargo really is as dangerous as has been claimed a collision could have the most disastrous effects – especially if the ship were one of the 200,000 ton tankers for which Grain are now planning.

I see elsewhere that the similar hazard presented by the wreck of the old battleship Natal off Invergordon is being dealt with by a Naval Clearance Diving Team.  I wonder if the time has not come for MPA, or perhaps BP as your major customer, to insist that action be taken to dispose of the “Montgomery”.



MEDWAY PORTS AUTHORITY

Harbour Masters Office

30th March, 1971.

Captain Sir Edward Archdale, Bt., D.S.C., R.N.,
Queen’s Harbour Master,
H.M. Dockyard,
Chatham,
Kent.

Dear Captain Archdale,

Thank you for your letter dated 8th March, concerning the possibly increased risk that the presence of the wreck of the “Richard Montgomery” off Sheerness presents, now that larger tankers are scheduled to call at the Refinery on the Isle of Grain.

I apologise for not replying at an earlier date, but wanted to fully brief myself on steps taken to date before committing myself to a reply.

I think one important point is that the old battle ship “Natal” could be more closely aligned to the wreck of the “Bulwark” now lying in Kethole Reach, than to the wreck of the “Richard Montgomery” which contains several thousand tons of explosives.

Appreciating your point that it may be time for the Medway Ports Authority of B.P. to insist on some action being taken to safeguard the wreck, I was under the impression that the consensus of opinion among the experts is that any attempt to clear the wreck has a strong element of risk attached.

For our part my Authority’s policy at the moment is to await the outcome of the current investigations into the establishment of a rubble mound barrier around the wreck to obviate the possibility of a vessel accidently running into it.  I know that Mr. Gill has often expressed a view which infers – ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.

I am sorry I cannot be more encouraging on this matter from an official standpoint, but do agree with you that something ought to be done, or plainly we must accept the fact that every passing year increases the chance of a vessel striking the wreck.

Yours sincerely

C. N. F***S
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 12, 2013, 10:52:45
Draft
REPORT OF REVIEW OF THE SITUATION REGARDING THE WRECK OF THE SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY” – 1971

1.   The United States vessel, the SS “Richard Montgomery”, ran aground in 1944 on Sheerness Middle sand in the Thames Estuary and broke into 2 parts forward of the bridge. The vessel had on board nearly 9,000 tons of bombs, detonators, etc of which about half was salvaged.  The rest is still in the wreck, which has now sunk deep into the sand and mud.  It is 1½ miles from Sheerness and about 700 ft to the north of the Medway Approach Channel.  The masts and derricks are visible at all states of the tide; the decks are always covered even at low water.  2 lighted wreck buoys and an electric fog-horn mark the wreck and a 24 hour river patrol caries out a check when in the vicinity of the wreck.

2.   In 1952, explosives experts came to the conclusion that it was best not to disturb either the ammunition or the wreck.  In 1964, a Working Party including representatives of the Ministry of Defence, the Port of London Authority and the Medway Conservancy Board advised that the wreck should still be left alone.  They recommended an up-to-date diving survey and this was conducted by naval divers in 1965 and confirmed the views of the Working Party.  In 1966, United States Services representatives carried out a re-appraisal of the explosive risks arising from the wreck.  They recommended that the cargo should be salvaged by naval personnel and dumped in deep water but recognised that a danger of spontaneous explosion still existed, although they thought the likelihood was decreasing with the passage of time.  Because of this danger, which would be magnified by salvage operations, and in the light of the views of British explosives and salvage experts, it was decided that the wreck should be left undisturbed.

RECENT SURVEY AND PRESENT POSITION REGARDING REMOVAL OF THE AMMUNITION

3.   A close survey over the area of the wreck was carried out by the Medway Ports Authority in September/October 1970 and this shows that whereas the wreck was in 2 pieces it is now in 3, the forward half having split just forward of the foremast.  This section contained the majority of the bombs and it is possible that some of these could have come out of the holds and be lying on the sea bed around the wreck.  However no bombs have been dredged up from the area which might have come from the wreck.  The experts consider that due to chemical reactions consequent on immersion the munitions are still unacceptably hazardous to remove and it has been decided that no attempt should be made to remove them.

4.   It appears that the scour holes around the wreck are becoming larger and deeper.  The minimum depth between the southern end of the wreck and the Medway Approach Channel and between the northern end and the Great Nore Anchorage are several feet deeper than on a survey by the Port of London Authority in 1952.  It seems therefore that there is a distinct possibility of a N – S breach through Sheerness Middle sand along the axis of the wreck and that the wreck may eventually be pushed section by section into the scour holes and become buried.

CONSIDERATION OF THE POSSIBILITY OF DETONATING THE WRECK

5.   IF all the ammunition was completely detonated at the same time it is likely that there would be over a radius of 2 miles structural damage including some cracking of secure walls and some collapse of insecure ones.  Outside this radius minor damage eg damage to windows could occur.  Debris would be scattered in the Medway Approach Channel and could present hazards to shipping.  A tidal wave of about 14 ft would be possible in the Medway Approach Channel and also a bore might form in the Thames and/or Medway.

6.   The contents are probably somewhat scattered by now and the simultaneous explosion of all the ammunition may be difficult to achieve.  If only part of the detonation occurred undetonated bombs may be hurled into the Medway Approach Channel.

7.   It would be necessary before the detonation to stop shipping in the Medway and parts of the Thames and to evacuate Sheerness.

8.   In such circumstances and bearing in mind that the risk of spontaneous explosion is gradually receding it has been decided that the contents should not be detonated.

INVESTIGATION INTO THE POSSIBILITY OF PROTECTING THE WRECK BY BARRIER

9.   With the help of the Hydraulics Research Station, Wallingford a thorough investigation has been carried out into the feasibility of erecting a barrier around the wreck to prevent a ship colliding with it.

PROTECTION BY BLOCKSHIPS

10.   Consideration has been given to the possibility of protecting the wreck by placing blockships across the most likely lines that drifting vessels could take.  Blockships placed on the sandbank will ultimately sink into the bank as has the “Richard Montgomery”.  Moreover placed between the wreck and the Medway Approach Channel they will be undermined and may in the process slide towards or into the Channel.  Also navigational difficulties could be presented to small vessel due to the possibility that blockships near the Channel angled to the flow would produce cross currents in the Medway Approach Channel.  Such a protection against vessels hitting the wreck is not therefore considered to be feasible.

PROTECTION BY A BARRIER CONSTRUCTED AROUND THE WRECK

11.   This could be effected by:-
a.   Tipping rubble around the wreck at a suitable distance from it.  If the barrier is built with its crest at about mean water level or higher then the increase in velocity of the tidal flow in its immediate vicinity could result in some scouring of the bank and perhaps part of the Medway Approach Channel directly opposite the barrier.  If built below this level to facilitate maintenance, say to allow a vessel of 6-8 ft draught to pass over, protection would not be complete.  There is also the danger of pieces of rubble getting into the Channel where tankers often have only 2-3 ft clearance.  Moreover it is possible that the tipping operations could trigger off an explosion of the ammunition in the wreck.  The estimated cost of a rubble barrier is around £1½ million.

b.   2 ton boulders or tetrapods placed carefully around the wreck which would have less effect on the tidal flow, as they would provide a porous barrier, and the placement of which would be less likely to cause the ammunition to explode than the tipping of rubble.  It would cost in the region of £4 million to build such a barrier which would probably prove unstable and could require continuing maintenance.

c.   A floating barrier anchored by heavy chain which would probably stop small vessels hitting the wreck.  Apart from the danger of the barrier floating on to the wreck it would require maintenance at 3 yearly intervals and of course would not stop heavy tankers.

12.   The costs and tidal effects mentioned above are in respect of an elliptical shaped barrier (1,000 ft wide) to give a streamlining effect and thus reducing interference with the tidal flow; the alignment of the major axis would be along the line 0 68° (True) which is the direction of the maximum flood and ebb velocities in the vicinity of the wreck.  The tidal effects of the barrier could be reduced if it were possible to:-

a.   To fill in scour holes around the wreck

b.   To cut away the masts and superstructure of the wreck


This would enable a smaller ellipse to be used and a lower barrier to be built but would involve a greater risk of the ammunition being detonated.  It must also be borne in mind that a barrier itself would present an additional hazard to any ships which went off course and, in the case of large tankers colliding with it, could result in an explosion which could trigger off the ammunition in the wreck.  The nearer the barrier were to the wreck the greater the risk from such a collision.

CONCLUSION REGARDING THE QUESTION OF A BARRIER AROUND THE WRECK

13.   It will be seen from photographs 10-11 that whilst it might be possible to build certain types of barrier around the wreck which should prevent a ship hitting it there are in each case a number of attendant disadvantages which would seem far to outweigh the advantage to be gained, bearing in mind the very small risk of the wreck being hit by a ship.  The wreck is on a sandbank some 700 ft from the Medway Approach Channel and no ship has collided with it in 26 years.  Moreover there is a risk of triggering off the explosion of the ammunition in the wreck during constructing of a barrier o by a ship hitting the wreck.  In the circumstances it is not proposed to proceed with the construction of a barrier around the wreck.

CONTINUING ACTION TO PROTECT THE WRECK FROM INTERFERENCE AND TO MARK ITS PRESENCE

14.   Although it has been decided to continue to leave the wreck undisturbed, a close watch will continue to be kept upon the situation and further reviews will be held from time to time.  Meanwhile the 2 lighted buoys and electric fog-horn will still mark the wreck and a 24 hour river patrol carry out a check when in its vicinity.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 16, 2013, 14:09:54
DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT

Flag Officer Medway
HM Dockyard
Chatham
Kent

16 August 1971

WRECK OF THE SS RICHARD MONTGOMERY

Reference your No 264/3 dated 28 July 1971, new weather-proof notice boards have now been ordered and are due for delivery from the manufacturers in one month when they will be fixed.

L V Relph
For Area Works Officer



Department of Trade and Industry

Captain M Magnus Osborn OBE RN
Assistant Queen’s Harbour Master
HM Dockyard
Chatham
Kent

29 September 1971

Dear Sir

Replies have now been received from all the members of the Working Party concerning the draft report of the review of the situation regarding the SS “Richard Montgomery” and in the light of the comments, which on the whole agree with the conclusions of the report, it has been decided not to make any amendments thereto.

It will now be necessary to write to interested parties viz. local authorities and MPs who have been in touch with the Department over the past few years about the wreck and a draft letter is attached together with a draft press notice which it is intended to issue.

Unless we hear from you by the 15th October 1971 we will assume that you have no comments on the above documents.

Yours faithfully
A C T Slade



CONFIDENTIAL

DRAFT LETTER TO GO TO INTERESTED PARTIES VIZ., LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND MP’S

Dear Sir

WRECK OF SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY” ON A SANDBANK TO THE NORTH OF SHEERNESS

As you will know the Department have been studying the feasibility of placing a barrier around the wreck of the SS “Richard Montgomery” to protect it against drifting ships.  This study has been carried out in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence (Navy) and other interested Authorities and with the assistance of the Hydraulics Research Station at Wallingford.

A number of different kinds of barrier have been considered including the sinking of blockships across the most likely lines which are drifting ships would take and the construction of a complete barrier around the wreck either by the tipping of rubble or placing of 2 ton boulders or tetrapods.

Whilst it might be possible to build different types of barrier which should prevent a ship hitting the wreck it is considered that there are in each case a number of attendant disadvantages which outweigh the advantage to be gained.  For instance there would be interference with the tidal flow, danger of triggering off an explosion of the contents of the wreck whilst constructing the barrier, the likelihood of the barrier being unstable and the possibility of pieces moving into the Medway Approach Channel and endangering shipping.  Moreover a ship hitting the barrier, which would be a much larger target than the wreck, might cause an explosion of the contents of the wreck.  Bearing all this in mind and the apparent small risk of a ship hitting the wreck (27 years have now passed since the vessel ran aground) and triggering off an explosion of the contents it is not proposed to proceed with the construction of a barrier.

The Department have also this year conducted a general review of the situation regarding the wreck and its contents and a close survey over the area has been carried out by the Medway Ports Authority.  The view of experts consulted by the Department is that due to chemical reactions consequent on immersion the munitions are still unacceptably hazardous to remove.

Consideration was also given to the possibility of detonating the contents of the wreck but this would be likely to cause structural damage over a radius of 2 miles which in turn could endanger life, and possible hazards to shipping; also one could not be sure that all the munitions had been destroyed.  In such circumstances and bearing in mind that the risk of spontaneous explosion is gradually receding it has been decided not be detonate the contents.

Although it has been decided to leave the wreck undisturbed, a close watch will continue to be kept upon the situation and further reviews will be held from time to time.  Meanwhile the 2 lighted buoys and electric fog horn will still mark the wreck and a 24 hour river patrol carry out a check when in the vicinity.  There are also Warning Notices on the wreck and the buoys.  These services are maintained by the Medway Ports Authority.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 19, 2013, 10:28:45
A C T Slade Esq.
Department of Trade and Industry
Marine Division Branch 3B
Sunley House
90 High Holborn, London WC1V6LP

11 Oct 71

1.   Please refer to your letter MNA 13/4/037 Part 3 of 29 September 1971.  The proposed draft letter and press notice on the review of the situation regarding the SS “Richard Montgomery” have been noted, and the Flag Officer Medway has only one comment to make about the text.  The final paragraph of the draft letter ascribes responsibility for the warning notices on the wreck and buoys to the Medway Ports Authority.  This is incorrect.  These notices are maintained on behalf of the Ministry of Defence by the Department of the Environment.

2.   It is, however, also noted that the documents contain no reference to the suggestion put forward in the Flag Officer Medway’s letter of 28 June 1971, a copy of which is attached for reference, proposing removal of the unfused bombs in No. 1 hold, and countermining of the remainder.

3.   In the absence of any reply to the above suggestion it must remain the view of the Flag Officer Medway that this proposed course of action represents a reasonably safe and entirely effective method of finally disposing of this long standing hazard to safety and navigation.

L W R Taylor
Captain
For Rear Admiral
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 20, 2013, 08:57:05
Department of Trade and Industry

Captain L W H Taylor
Office of the Flag Officer Navy
HM Naval Base
Chatham
Kent

15 November 1971

Dear Sir

WRECK OF SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”

Please refer to your letters of 28 June and 11 October about the possibility that the unfused bombs in No 1 hold might be removed provided this could be done without undue risk and the remaining ammunition countermined.

With the break-up and general deterioration of the wreck the precise whereabouts of the ammunition must be doubtful and in view of the fact that the copper azide in the fused bombs could have become very sensitive it is felt that it would be an extremely dangerous operation to attempt to remove the unfused bombs from the wreck.  If such an attempt were to be made serious consideration would need to be given to the temporary evacuation of Sheerness and to the halting of shipping in the Medway Approach Channel.  Moreover the ammunition may be dispersed owing to the break-up of the wreck and it is felt that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to ensure that all the ammunition has been destroyed.  Some bombs and debris could be blown into the Medway Approach Channel thus creating a hazard to shipping.

In all the circumstances it is considered that the wreck should continue to remain undisturbed.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Mr S J Hawkins in ERDE who concurs with the views expressed.

Yours faithfully

A C T Slade



Mr A C T Slade,
Department of Trade and Insustry,
Marine Division Branch 3B
Sunley House,
90 High Holborn,
London

26 November 1971

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your reply under the above reference to Captain Taylor of RN Chatham on the subject of the “Richard Montgomery”.  Although you did not send copies of the Captain’s letter I gather from your reply and from a telephone call from Miss Witt that he suggests that it might be possible to unload the No 1 hold of the wreck.

This was considered at ERDE some 16 months ago when copies of the Sailing Draft and other documents relating to the cargo were made available to us.  These showed that no fused material was stowed under No 1 hatch, the hold and ‘tween decks carrying TNT filled unfazed GP bombs whilst the deep tanks contained booster assemblies and various pyrotechnic devices.

However, in view of the possibility during salvage operations of accidently imparting mechanical impact shocks to the adjacent No 2 ‘tween decks (which contain the potentially very shock sensitive bombs) it was felt to be hazardous to disturb the No 1 hatch cargo.

The recent survey of the wreck, however, shows that the circumstances have changed, in that the wreck is now in three parts, the for’ard section having parted at or near the bulkhead, between No1 and No 2 hatches with the two sections already several metres apart.  The risk of mechanical shocks arising in No 1 hold affecting the contents of No 2 is thus largely, if not entirely, removed and I therefore feel that consideration might well be given to the possibility of unloading No 1 hatch, as Captain Taylor suggests.

Whether there would be a balance of advantage in unloading No 1 hatch could, of course, only be decided by detailed discussions among the interested parties but it seems to me that the following are the principal arguments in favour of the proposal:-

1.   Approximately one third of the total explosive weight resides under No 1 hatch; if this were removed then any subsequent accidental detonation of the remainder of the cargo would result in rather less damage to Sheerness and Southend.

2.   The state of deterioration of the material recovered from No 1 hold might yield valuable clues as to the state of that in other holds.

3.   It would be made apparent to the general public that ‘something was being done’.

4.   The experience gained by the Diving Team of the particular problem of working on this wreck could be useful should it at some later date be considered safe to unload the rest of the wreck.

Clearly, however, any decision in favour of unloading No 1 hatch must be subordinate to a detailed and careful examination of the nature and extent of the hazards involved in the operation.  This again could only be determined by discussion between appropriate experts and might well call for another Diving Survey.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Captain L W H Taylor at HM Naval Base, Chatham.

Yours faithfully,

S J Hawkins
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: ronangel on March 21, 2013, 06:45:00
Unclassified  UK government dera report 1997 condition of the wreck

http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com/download/dera%20report%20july%201997.pdf
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on March 30, 2013, 19:03:19
Medway Ports Authority

Unauthorised Persons on “Richard Montgomery” wreck

At 1053 on Tuesday 8th February, 1972, Mr. C. Bowry aboard “Paul David” reported a 36’ Boat alongside Bridge structure of “Richard Montgomery” wreck.  This boat was not visible from Garrison Point, being on the Eastward side but Medway Patrol who was in Saltpan Reach was instructed to investigate.  Mr. Bowry reported at 1110 that craft had left wreck and heading for Southend.  Description was given as follows:-  Green Hull, Brown wheelhouse with orange roof and small mast, wheelhouse and cuddy well forward, open cockpit.

Medway Patrol was at this time at Garrison Point and was directed by Medway Radio and “Paul David” in pursuit of the Boat, intercepting at 1150, about 1’ from Southend Pier.  Deputy Harbour Master was given preliminary report.

Coxwain Mr. T. Eldridge reported that craft, which had no name, had been hired by Mr. Atkinson, Councillor for Leigh Ward of Southend Council and Southend representative on the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries committee.  When asked for his reasons for being on the wreck, Councillor Atkinson said that they had no reason at all but did not seen concerned, merely pointing out that one of the notices were split.  He conceded that he had received no permission to be aboard the wreck, but had not interfered with it, and claimed to have been in the vicinity for two hours.  On the Harbour Master instructions this information was passed to Southend Police together with the estimated position of the Boat and the Station Officer said that he would deal with it.
Mr. Collins undertook to inform the Department of Trade and Industry.  On leaving the boat Medway Patrol proceeded to the wreck and reported that he could find no signs of interference.

At approx. 1330 Mr. Bowry telephoned Medway Radio.  He said that Mr. Taylor, Pilot of Bella Brovig in GNA had watched Mr. Atkinson’s boat whilst waiting for “Paul David” and estimated that he had actually been alongside the wreck for 25 minutes.  Mr. Bowry also said that he noticed Boat secured with bow on Northern end of midships superstructure and stern pointing to Northern mast.  A light line appeared to stretch from boat’s stern to northern mast and he believes that an orange object appeared to slide down rope prior to boat’s departure.  He believes that marker was left to establish his presence on the wreck.

Owner of unnamed Boat:
Mr. Hill,
34 Pembury Road,
Westcliff-on-Sea.

Also on Board:
Mr. Roy Russell,
2 Dragsway,
Rayley.

Mr. D. Atkinson,
3 Foxwood Place,
Leigh on Sea.

J. E. Millichap
Duty Officer



Medway Ports Authority

Further to Mr. Millichap’s report: Tuesday 8th February, 1972.

At 1520 the Medway Patrol was sent to inspect the “Richard Montgomery” wreck to ascertain if any lines or markers had been laid and at 1530 reported that there were no signs of any markers.  There was a length of orange coloured polypropolene rope entangled in the nets hanging from the wreck’s derrick.  This rope was frayed and thought to be “floatsam” carried to the wreck on the tide.  The Deputy Harbour Master was informed accordingly.

G. Brooks
OPERATIONS OFFICER.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Ex-Chalky on April 06, 2013, 10:13:50
Are there any photographs of the wreck in the early days?

I've seen plenty of recent ones with just masts sticking out of the water, but I remember as a child in the early sixties being on the beach and being able to see rigging on the masts and the entire superstructure out of the water at low tide.

It would be interesting to see pictures at low tide over the years in order to see how the wreck has deteriorated and how it has moved and lowered into the seabed.


Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 07, 2013, 20:21:41
1972
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Ex-Chalky on July 08, 2013, 12:30:30
Thank you Kyn!

My memories are from the early sixties, going out to the wreck on a boat trip from the jetty at Sheerness.   Then, I am sure that the bridge superstructure was still visible.

I've never seen any pictures from the time the ship first broke its back, or any from the forties.

Many thanks.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 08, 2013, 17:25:51
I have some more from this date but none earlier :(  They were changing the signs on-board her when these were taken.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: helcion on July 08, 2013, 23:31:09
Kyn / ex-Chalky    -

Take a look at   -

http://www.bobleroi.co.uk/ScrapBook/SSRichardMontgomory/SSRichardMontgomery.html

A site quite new to me  -  did a little Googling & there it was after a couple of minutes . . . .

Cheers

Helcion
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: scorp1035 on July 09, 2013, 00:04:51
Hi Helcion, this is a link to many old and new photos

https://www.facebook.com/tim.bell.39982/media_set?set=a.1834080293906.2107255.1297398906&type=1

Also many links, videos, etc you may find interesting including the link you have posted on "Facebook SS Richard Montgomery [the wreck]"

https://www.facebook.com/pages/SS-Richard-Montgomery-The-Wreck/200095340014422

Thanks to Kyn for a very nice history site
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: helcion on July 09, 2013, 06:22:53
Scorp105   -

Thanks.     Interesting.     The first one seems to be u/s at the moment.

One of these days I must get around to getting involved with Facebook etc., but I waste enough time on the computer already !

Cheers

Helcion
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 09, 2013, 10:15:55
3 more.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 09, 2013, 18:15:37
Last four :)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: helcion on July 10, 2013, 07:35:50
Good sonar picture at    -

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/times_guardian/news/SS-Richard-Montgomery-survey-released-3123/
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 12, 2013, 10:27:56
Office of the Flag Officer, Medway
H.M. Naval Base
Chatham

Area Works Officer
Department of the Environment

10 Feb 72

RICHARD MONTGOMERY – WARNING NOTICES

1.   The Harbour Master, Medway Ports Authority, has observed that the warning notice recently fitted at the North end of the Richard Montgomery has split.

2.   It would be appreciated if arrangements could be made to repair or replace the notice in the near future.

M Magnus Osborn
Commander
for Rear Admiral



S J Hawkins, Esq.,
Ministry of Defence (PE)
E.R.D.E.,
Powdermill Lane,
Waltham Abbey,
Essex.

18 February, 1972

Dear Sir,

WRECK OF SS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”

Thank you for your letter of 26 November, 1971, addressed to Mr Slade, about the possibility of unloading the unfused bombs in No.1 hold of the wreck as suggested by FO Medway.

We have now sought the comments of the interested parties on receipt of which we will consider whether a further meeting should be held to discuss the proposal.

A copy of the letters received from FO Medway is enclosed.

Yours faithfully

V. Marlow.



V Marlow Esq
Department of Trade and Industry
Marine Division 3B
Sunley House
90 High Holborn
LONDON WC1

22 February 1972

Dear Marlow

1.   Thank you for your letter dated 18 February 1972 addressed to Easton, he is at this time abroad on duty so I will reply.

2.   I do not disagree with Hawkins’ technical assessment in his letter dated 26 November 1971; I am unclear however on the meaning of the term “countermine” in Captain Archdale’s letter dated 28 June 1971.  If, as I suspect, he means “explode by means of an adjacent explosive charge” then I have some reservations.

3.   Any attempt to remove the contents of number one hold must be a calculated risk and the lesson of the operations on the “Kielce” where apparently the entire cargo exploded must be taken into account.

4.   My reservations on “countermining” (with the meaning as in 2 above) are that, notwithstanding the experience with the “Kielce”, no guarantee can be given that all the cargo in the hold will be detonated by an external shock.  It may well be that fuzes which exhibit copper azide formation will initiate the bombs to which they are fitted when subjected to very weak shocks whereas those which either have not corroded or where the copper azide itself has decomposed will be inert; the weapons in that event will only initiate under the influence of a very intense shock or from the effects of penetration by fragments.

5.   The problem falls into two parts.

5.1.   If an attempt is made to remove the bombs from No.1 hold the immediate benefits are those accruing from the reduction in the quantity if explosive; is a reduction in the risk to external life and property.  Against these benefits must be set the possible loss of life in the removal of crew and risks to life and property externally should the attempt end in disaster.  Clearly one proceeds on this course only if the benefit outweighs the probability of a mishap – multiplied by its cost.

5.2.   If and when No.1 hold is cleared the further benefit to be obtained by detonating the remainder of the cargo is obvious enough but again one must weigh the possible disadvantages in that there might be a premature explosion if the crew went too close to the weapons or a failure to detonate some items if they attempted it too remotely.  In the much simpler (technically) deliberate blowing up of the “St Bridget” recently I insisted on multiple cordtex detonating lines with a great deal of redundancy in the initiating system.  I cannot advise a similar system here because of the risk to the crew in setting it up.

6.   There is obviously a great temptation to say “let us do something” but I counsel caution and careful consideration of the risks involved.  If a further meeting is called I will be happy to attend or be represented.

Yours sincerely
E G Whitbread
HM Chief Inspector of explosives
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 15, 2013, 13:55:29
Department of Trade and Industry
Marine Division 3B
Sunley House  90 High Holborn  London  WC1

The Flag Officer Medway,
H.M. Naval Base,
Chatham.

10 March 1972

Dear Sir,

We have received a letter from a Member of Parliament about a TV programme which appeared on “Nationwide” on 1st March 1972 and in which a Leigh fisherman claimed that he had trawled up a bomb in his net and had deposited it at the site of the wreck of the ss “Richard Montgomery”.

The Member of Parliament has asked-

(a)   Whether part of the cargo has been dispersed over a wide area or was the bomb taken from some other source? and,
(b)   What action can now be taken to prevent unauthorised persons dumping anything at the site of the wreck aside from alleged bombs?

A further letter has now been received from the Member of Parliament informing us that 2 more Leigh fishermen confirmed that they have trawled up bombs and have dumped them back.  One of the fishermen, who is a trawler skipper, is of the opinion that there should be far more protection.  He alleges that in bad weather the audible signal can only be heard when one is almost on top of the wreck and that the lights are not visible in conditions of poor visibility.

The Member of Parliament concludes by saying that if a ship rammed  the wreck there could be a most serious disaster and has asked for an assurance that improvements will be made to the warning signals and lights round the wreck.

I should be most grateful for any comments you are able to offer so as to assist the Department to furnish an early reply to the Member of Parliament.

Yours faithfully
V Marlow



From:   Captain L W H Taylor Royal Navy

V Marlow Esq.
Marine Division 3B
Department of Trade and Industry
Sunley House
High Holborn
London WC1

16 March 1972

1.   Thank you for your letter of the 10 March 1972 about the wreck of the “Richard Montgomery”.  May I preface my reply by again pointing out for the record that Flag Officer Medway has no official standing or responsibility in respect of this matter, and that the comments which follow are, as before, intended merely as a contribution which I hope will prove helpful.

2.   There is no information in this office to indicate that there has been any dispersal of part of the cargo over a wide area.  On the contrary it is understood that some, at least of the bombs and other explosives recovered by fishermen in the area of the wreck in recent years, have been proved not to have come from the “Richard Montgomery’s” Cargo.  Likewise there is no information in this office regarding the source of the bomb trawled up by the fishermen and referred to in the television programme on 1 March 1972.

3.   I regret that I am unable to offer any suggestions as to the action which might be taken to prevent unauthorised persons dumping bombs or other material in the area of the wreck.  I would have thought that this could only have been achieved by a continuing process of surveillance and/or patrols and this would, no doubt, be ruled out on the grounds of cost.  However conspicuous the warning notices are made, and however draconian the penalties which they threaten, they are at present difficult if not impossible to enforce and this must be obvious to any would be offender.  It may, however, be relevant that the Medway Ports Authority have, I understand, on at least one recent occasion, intercepted and cautioned a vessel observed alongside the wreck.

4.   It would appear that several recent incursions into the area have been made with the express purpose of defying the warning notice in order to gain publicity for the parties pressing for action to be taken by the Authorities to neutralise, or dispose of the wreck.

5.   The buoys, lights and sound signals currently deployed to warn mariners of the existence of the wreck are of a standard normality appropriate to an obstacle of this kind.  They are, of course, under the control of the Medway Ports Authority who are, I understand, advised in this matter by Trinity House.  The channel is in regular use by Naval Ships and craft, and the Naval Authorities would welcome any addition to the size, number, or capabilities of these facilities.

6.   One suggestion which has been put to me is that a floating boom might be moored around the wreck to act as an obstruction to would be intruders.  This suggestion would appear to have some merit but I regret I must add a rider to the effect that I am not in a position to commit the Royal Navy to any assistance in the provision or maintenance of such a boom, at least without reference to the Ministry of Defence (Navy).

7.   It would seem that comments, enquiries, and pressures of the type referred to in your letter must be expected to continue whilst the “Richard Montgomery” and her contents remain in their present location and condition.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 22, 2013, 13:17:18
Department of Trade and Industry
Board of Trade
Marine Division 3B
Sunley House 90 High Holborn London WC1

The Flag Officer Medway
H.M. Naval Base
Chatham
Kent

Date: 17 March 1972

Dear Sir

In view of the number of recent approaches to the Department, incidents and press reports expressing public concern about the wreck of the “Richard Montgomery” it has been decided to call a meeting of interested Departments and also the Port of London Authority and the Medway Ports Authority to discuss the situation regarding the wreck and in particular the following matters:-

1.   Security and warning arrangements.

2.   The risk if an attempt were made to remove the contents of No. 1 or No. 2 holds.

3.   The advisability of a diving survey being carried out this year to ascertain whether bombs have come out of No. 1 or No.
2 holds have been dispersed around the wreck.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday 28th March, 1972 at 1030 hours at the above-mentioned address (Room 3/8A) and it is hoped that you will be able to attend on this date and if not to send a deputy.  Should a representative from your Department or Authority be unable to attend the Department would be grateful to receive your written comments on the matters concerned.

A C T Slade
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 25, 2013, 20:27:09
Southend Chamber of Trade

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry,
Department of Trade and Industry,
1, Victoria Street,
London S.W.1.

18th April 1972

Dear Sir,

USS. “RICHARD MONTGOMERY.

Please find enclosed a copy of a report published by this Chamber, giving details of the U.S. Liberty Ship “Richard Montgomery” which is aground off Sheerness with it’s hold full of bombs.

Also attached is a copy of a Press Release which has accompanied this report to all National and Local Newspapers who have been invited to a Press conference at the Hall of the Institute of Journalists at 2-4, Tudor Street, London E.C.4. on Thursday next, the 20th April 1972 at 11.00 a.m.

The report is sent for your information on the understanding that no part or parts of it will be conveyed to any person for publication before the embargo time for the Press Release which is 12 noon on Thursday the 20th April 1972.

Yours sincerely,
V.T. Steward,
General secretary.



PRESS RELEASE

THE CONTENTS OF THIS RELEASE AND THE ACCOMPANYING REPORT ARE NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCASTING BEFORE 12 NOON on THURSDAY 20TH APRIL 1972.

The Government seems to have the wrong facts about the wreck of a munitions ship which poses a safety hazard to towns around the Thames Estuary.  This is one of the findings in a report on the U.S. Liberty Ship, Richard Montgomery which swung aground off Sheerness, Kent in 1944.

The report, published by Southend Chamber of Trade, reveals for the first time, details of the ship’s original cargo and reports of the emergency salvage operation.  This shows, by comparison with official statements on the wreck, that the Government has there to remain on board more than 1,000 tons of ammunition than is actually the case.  He report adds, however, that most of the remaining cargo (General Purpose and Semi-Armour Piercing Bombs) is still effective.

“The nearby centres of population are exposed to a serious explosive hazard which will continue undimished so long as the bombs remain”, the report says.  At the same time, it proves, by diagrams & photographs, that the wreck, which has now broken into three sections, has not sunk deep into the mud as the Trade Department has stated.

The report concludes that the wreck is unsafe and that the chances of explosion are not remote.  It expresses concern at the consequences of the possible further break-up of the ship; the effects of heavy seas or irresponsible navigation in the area; visits by sightseers; malicious attempts to detonate the cargo; or the salvaging of any of the wreck’s parts.  Copper cable has already been stripped from the craft and there remains a bronze propeller worth at least £2,500.

Various official bodies which have been concerned in the life of the wreck have “gathered a weak collection of wrong and inadequate information which has been used to generate incorrect advice, bad decisions and to frame unsound policies which are unrelated to reality” the report states.

THE MEN BEHIND THE REPORT

DAVID COTGROVE – is a well known Southend caterer closely associated with the Thames fishing industry and he is chairman of the Local Affairs Committee of Southend Chamber of Trade & Industry and Treasurer of Southend Hotel and Catering Association.

DAVID ATKINSON – is a Southend Councillor and a member of the Kent & Essex Sea Fisheries Committee.  He is also a former national chairman of the Young Conservatives.

ALL ENQUIRIES ABOUT THE REPORT SHOULD BE MADE DIRECT TO THE PRESS OFFICER – Brian Meggison at Southend (0702) 522068 and NOT TO SOUTHEND CHAMBER OF TRADE.

N.B.  Figures 2 and 5 mentioned in the report are photographs which will be available at the Press Conference.  The Conference will start at 11am prompt and conclude at 12-45pm.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 27, 2013, 16:02:57
The explosive Cargo
of the
USS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”

A study into the developing hazard from a marine wreck
in the Thames Estuary between Sheerness and
Southend-on-Sea

David A. Atkinson
Councillor for the County Borough of Southend-on-Sea
Member of the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee

Richard Anthony Baker
Hon. Secretary, Rochford Hundred Historical Society

David F. Cotgrave
Chairman, Local Affairs Committee
Southend-on-Sea and District Chamber of Trade and Industry

This study outlines the circumstances of the stranding and loss of the “Richard Montgomery” and her subsequent history as a marine wreck.  The condition, environment and security of the hull are discussed and the explosive hazard is assessed in the light of a complete inventory and description of the remaining cargo.  It finds that the officially published statements relating to the wreck are wrong and also draws attention to the inadequate level of interest and concern displayed by the several departments involved in the matter.



Published by
Southend-on-Sea & District Chamber of Trade & Industry Ltd.
845 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex.



Contents

1.0   Introduction
1.1   The Background
1.2   The intention of this study
1.3   Procedure and Method
1.4   Public Response to our Enquiries

2.0   Wreck
2.1   Wartime Wrecks in the estuary
2.2   A Quarter Century of Peace
2.3   The Growth of Public concern

3.0   The Official View of the Situation
3.1   Public Statement
3.2   The Date of the Stranding
3.3   Responsibility of the Wreck
3.4   The Environment of the Wreck
3.5   The security of the Wreck
3.6   The explosive Cargo
3.7   The Explosive Hazard
3.8   A Summary of the Official Statements
3.9   A Commentary on the Official Statements

4.0   The Loss of the USS “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”
4.1   The Liberty Ships
4.2   USS “Richard Montgomery” 7176 G. R. Tons.  Official No. 243756
4.3   Her Last Voyage
4.4   The Circumstances of the stranding
4.5   The Emergency Salvage Operation
4.6   The Enquiry into the Loss
4.7   Background Evidence

5.0   The Environment of the Wreck
5.1   The Study by the Hydraulics Research Station
5.2   Environment Data for the Wreck Area
5.3   The Development of the Wreck’s Environment
5.4   Direction and Strength of the Tidal Streams
5.5   The Wreck on the sea-Bed to-day

6.0   The Security of the Wreck
6.1   The range of Hazards
6.2   Types of Disturbance
6.3   Instances of Disturbance
6.4   A Security Check

7.0   The Cargo of the “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”
7.1   The Stowage Plan and Salvage reports
7.2   Summarised Inventory
7.3   The Loose Bombs
7.4   Fuses and Bursters
7.5   Cluster Fragmentation Bombs
7.6   The Non Explosive Cargo
7.7   The Principal Explosive Material
7.8   The general Purpose Bombs
7.9   The Semi Armour-Piercing Bombs
7.10   The Effectiveness of the High Explosive Fillings (G.P. & S.A.P.)
7.11   The Result of “Aging” on High Explosive

8.0   Conclusions
8.1   The Explosive Hazard of the USS “Richard Montgomery”
8.2   The Accuracy of the Ministerial Statements (Sections 3.1 to 3.7)
8.3   The Quality of Official Knowledge.

Fig. 1   Layout of the USS “Richard Montgomery”

Fig. 2   Superimposed Frames showing Medway Water Ebbing near the Wreck

Fig. 3   Illustration of Current Velocities and Directions

Fig. 4   “View” of Wreck from the North East

Fig. 5   Model of the “Wreck” and Sea Bed

Fig. 6   Sailing Draft

Fig. 7   Cargo Inventory


Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on August 28, 2013, 16:02:13
1.0   Introduction

1.1   The Background

In the House of Commons, on April 23rd 1952, Dr. R.F. Bennett, Member of Gosport, asked the First Lord of the Admiralty “what responsibility he holds in respect of the “Richard Montgomery” wreck.  What action he has taken, or intends to take, with regard to the vessel and her cargo, and what steps he is taking to ensure that the cargo does not blow up”.

Commander Noble replied “The answer to all three parts of the question is none.  The responsibility lies with the Port of London Authority”.

Dr. Bennett’s question was the first of many occasions on which the subject was to be raised in the House, and much has been written and said elsewhere during the past twenty years, but to no avail.

The wreck, with its explosive cargo, still lurks off the Sheerness shore in the full view of the communities which it threatens.

There has only been one fundamental change in the whole situation since Dr. Bennett’s question.  The high explosive is now 20 years older.

1.2   The Intention of this Study

Since it is incredible that such a concentration of high explosive could be allowed to remain in this situation, it seems reasonable to enquire into the matter and establish the facts and circumstances of the last voyage of the USS “Richard Montgomery”, here stranding, and her subsequent history as a marine wreck, and to compare this data with the officially published material to test its accuracy and publicly criticise weak arguments and unsound policies.

1.3   Procedure and Method

Our first objective was to gather the officially published material, mainly through the indices to Hansard and “The Times”.  This was entered in chronological order into the “Calendar of events”, which formed the principal record.

We then collated the official statements and extracted the factual content, which became the principal material for investigation and comment in this study.

1.4   Public Response to our Enquiries

Our lines of enquiry were guided by our local knowledge of the history and background of the various activities in the Thames and Medway Estuaries.  We received every assistance from the persons we interviewed in the way of advice, information, and the loan of documents, and many people expressed their satisfaction that we were undertaking a serious study of the subject.  It is noteworthy that none of those who had important information on the subject had ever been asked about the matter in anyway.

2.0    Wreck

2.1   Wartime Wrecks in the Estuary
After the war ended, a number of wrecked ships remained in the Estuary, and were. For a variety of reasons, visited by watermen, fishermen and yachtsmen returning to the shore.  The majority of these vessels were salvaged and removed, but the “Richard Montgomery” remained, half submerged at low water, still recognisable as a Liberty ship, with her characteristic funnel, ventilators and Oerlikon cannon housings.  She became a centre of attraction when the weather and tide were right; and a list of her visitors would number into hundreds, if not thousands.

2.2   A Quarter Century of Peace

The sea and weather have removed the funnel, ventilators and most of the fittings from the midships island, but although she is barely recognisable as a Liberty Ship, the three masts remain, and the slings and nets of the stevedores continue to dangle from the cargo booms as relics and reminders of brave men who raced against time to get the bombs out, before the sea overtook them.

2.3   The Growth of Public Concern

Although many of the marine community of the Estuary know of the vague rumour that some sort of explosive cargo remained aboard the wreck, it was not until April 23rd 1952 that the matter was first raised in the House of Commons by Dr. R.F. Bennett, and ex naval officer, following a discussion with Sir Stephen McAdden, Member for Southend East.  This stimulated the first official assessment of the problem.

A further twelve years were to pass before one version of the story of the “Richard Montgomery” and her cargo appeared in somewhat horrific form entitled “The Doomsday Ship” as an article in the “Wide World” Magazine published in the autumn of 1964.  It contained some factual material and appears to have been stimulated by two news features on the wreck which had appeared in the “Daily Sketch” in 1962.  Parliamentary questions which followed this article precipitated the second survey of the wreck, and the formation of a Parliamentary Working Party.  The issue has remained active ever since.

3.0   The Official View of the Situation

3.1   Public Statements

The condition of the wreck and its contents, the degree of hazard, and other matters of importance have been conveyed to the public via ministerial statements, parliamentary answers to questions, letters to M.P.s and departmental statements and press releases.  A study of the material shows that the statements cover the following subjects, and is listed below as a summary of the quotation, the individuals involved, and the date.

3.2   The Date of the Stranding

The “Richard Montgomery” was wrecked on August 20th 1944. 
Mayhew (Sec. of State for Defence) – Boston 18/3/65.

3.3   Responsibility for the Wreck

3.31   First Lord of the Admiralty was asked what responsibility he holds in respect of the wreck.  Answer – none – responsibility lies with P.L.A.
Noble (First Lord Admiralty) – Bennett 23/4/52.

3.32   Board of Admiralty has suggested to P.L.A. that is should re-investigate the risks involved in leaving the wrecked ship full of bombs in the estuary.
Earl Jellicoe (Minister of Defence for Navy) – Boston 10/10/64

3.33   The legal position as to who is responsible for the wreck is complicated, although it is clear that the Ministry of Defence legally has no responsibility.
Mayhew (Sec. of State for Defence) – Braine 27/10/65

3.4   The Environment of the Wreck

3.41   Divers had found that the two halves of the ship had sunk bodily into the mud.  They also found that heavy silting in the holds had probably engulfed the remainder of the cargo.
Mayhew (Sec. of State of Defence) – Boston 24/11/65

3.42   The wreck has now sunk deep into the sand and mud.
D.T.I. Press Notice 12/11/71

3.5   The Security of the Wreck

3.51   We have written to the P.L.A. and to Medway Conservancy Board asking them to keep a sharp look out for anyone attempting a private survey and to check.
Mayhew (Sec. of State for defence) – Boston 24/11/65

3.52   We have decided not to attempt salvage, but to continue with the comprehensive precautions to ensure that the wreck is not tampered with.

The Kent Constabulary is ready to remove by force, if necessary, anyone trespassing on the wreck – in addition, the Medway Conservancy Board keep constant radar watch and conduct daily patrols.
Foley (Under Sec. of State for Navy) – Burden 14/12/67

3.6   The Explosive Cargo

3.61   Cargo was 8687 tons of bombs and detonators, of which about half was recovered in 1944.
Mayhew (Sec. of State for Defence) – Braine 27/10/65

3.7   The explosive Hazard

3.71   Chances of explosion were remote if wreck were left along.
Earl Jellicoe (Min. of defence for Navy) – Boston 15/9/64

3.72   Likelihood of explosion no greater than in 1952, possibly rather less.
Mayhew (Min. of Defence for Navy) – Braine 27/10/65

3.73   The risk of spontaneous explosion is decreasing slightly as time passes.
Foley (Under Sec. of State for Navy) – Boston 13/12/67

3.8   A Summary of the Official Statements

The ship was wrecked on August 20th 1944.  Of the original cargo of 8687 tons of bombs and detonators about half, containing 1445 of T.N.T. remains in the wreck which is in two halves and sunk deep into the sand and mud.  The risk is remote and decreasing as time passes, providing it is left undisturbed, and it is continuously guarded by a comprehensive security system under the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry.  It is not in any way the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence (Navy).

3.9   A Commentary on the Official Statements

As far as we know, the statements in this section represent the total information to be released from official sources.  Nearly all this material consists of estimates and opinions which are hedged with uncertainty.  We do not know whose opinions they are, neither do we know what weight to place on them.  Furthermore, it does not appear evident that any great efforts have been made to discover the basic facts of the matter.

The following sections of this study outline the results of our investigations, as described earlier (Sec. 1. 2 & 3).

Although the question of responsibility is part of the issue, we discuss this later, and instead commence with the details of the ship and the circumstances of her loss.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on September 25, 2013, 10:09:34
4.0   The Loss of the USS “Richard Montgomery”

4.1   The Liberty Ships

In 1941 the American shipyards undertook a vast program of expansion to build the enormous tonnage of expendable merchant ships which would be required for the war which was sure to come.  The original design was British and, as the result of tremendous efforts and innovations by the shipyards, about 2700 were built.  (See Fig.1. for layout).  They were nearly all names after men and women notable in the life and history of the United States.

4.2   USS “Richard Montgomery” 7176 G.R.Tons.  Official No. 243756

The 7th of 82 dry cargo (type EC2-S-C1) Liberty Ship to be built at Jacksonville, Florida, by the St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company, and launched July 1943.  Her crew would have numbered approx.. 52, together with some 30 gunners.  She was named after an Irish Soldier, born in Dublin in 1738 who finally settled in America, was elected to Congress, and fought in the war against the British in Canada.  He helped capture Montreal and was killed in the assault on Quebec on Dec. 31. 1775.

4.3   Her Last Voyage

After taking on bombs and munitions at Hog Island, Philadelphia, she sailed from the Delaware river to the Thames Estuary, to await a convoy for Cherbourg.  On arrival off Southend, she came under the authority of the Thames Naval Control at H.M.S. “Leigh”, which was in fact, Southend Pier.  The King’s Harbourmaster, who controlled all shipping movements and anchorages in the Estuary, ordered her to a berth off the north edge of the Sheerness Middle Sand in about 33 feet of water at low water, where she lay at anchor until she went aground.

4.4   The Circumstances of the Stranding

Clearly, the berth to which she was directed by the King’s Harbourmaster was most unsuitable for a vessel of her size, particularly since she was trimmed to a draught of 31 ft. aft, nearly 3 ft. more than was usual for a Liberty Ship.  If the wind fell northerly, at low water she could not avoid touching the shoal, even with the minimum possible scope of anchor cable.

We are informed that she went aground on Sunday August 20th 1944.  She was stranded on top of the Sheerness Middle Sand at the height of the spring tide, so that she was beneaped until the next good spring tide, due about September 5th, could refloat her, provided that a substantial portion of her cargo could be removed in the time, and also provided that she survived intact.

As the tide ebbed, the strain on her hull caused some of the welded plates to crack and buckle with an explosive snap as loud as a gunshot.  This sudden noise was heard and remarked upon by the crew of M.L. “British Queen”, who were fishing at over a mile distance away.  They then saw the crew of the “Richard Montgomery”, naturally apprehensive of the noise, and of the hazardous nature of their cargo, conduct an emergency evacuation of their ship via the life boats and rafts.

The crew and the Master, Captain Wilkie, were taken to Southend and provided with quarters, while the emergency salvage operation was prepared.

4.5   The Emergency Salvage Operation

Messrs. Watson and Gill, Shipbrokers, of Rochester, Kent, were instructed by the Department of the Director of Salvage at the admiralty to mount an emergency salvage operation for the removal of the explosive cargo where she lay.  The job of arranging the unloading was given to Mr. T.P. Adams, Master Stevedore, who was called out at 3.00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 22nd, to inspect the condition of the ship and its cargo, and check the stowage plan, which was given to them by the “Richard Montgomery”s Chief Officer when he came aboard.  The vessel did not appear to be damaged or taking water, and the cargo hatches had not been breached or interfered with in any way.

He engaged stevedores from Rochester to carry out the operation, which commenced at about 10.00 a.m. on Wednesday 23rd August, using the ship’s own cargo handling gear, the winches being powered by steam line from the vessel alongside.

At 3.0 p.m. on Thursday 24th August her hull cracked open at the fore end of No.3 hold, which flooded through to No. 1 and No.2 holds, and she finally broke her back on Friday Sept. 8th, leaving her irrevocably stranded.  Salvage continued until Monday Sept. 25th, when her holds, Nos. 4 and 5 had been cleared, while the remaining contents of the forward holds have remained completely submerged to this day.

The USS “Richard Montgomery” as then abandoned and ignored.  Her wreck was one of many in the River Thames.  There was a war on.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on September 26, 2013, 13:22:08
4.6   The Enquiry into the Loss

A Board of Enquiry was held aboard the “Richard Montgomery” about a week after the stranding, under the Presidency of a Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy (or coastguard).  The Board sat in the ship’s saloon and the proceedings lasted from 10.00 hrs. to 16.00 hrs. without a break, amid “the all pervading stench of leaking fuel oil”, while outside the unloading of her explosive cargo proceeded apace.

The King’s Harbourmaster gave evidence of the berth which he had allocated, and the Pilot confirmed that she had been anchored in this position.  The Board established that look-outs on a number of ships in the vicinity had seen the “Richard Montgomery” swinging towards the shoal in the pre-dawn light and blew their sirens in warning, while the Chief Officer, on being asked why he did not rouse the Master, who was asleep in his cabin, replied, “I don’t know”.

The Board found that the Master had hazarded his ship, and he and the Chief Officer were suspended for twelve months.  It had sat under emergency conditions and had operated in foreign territory under difficulties.  It also did not hear all the evidence relating to the stranding of the “Richard Montgomery”.

4.7   Background to the Evidence

The Court did not hear evidence that the Assistant King’s Harbourmaster had questioned the suitability of the Harbourmaster’s choice of anchorage for the “Richard Montgomery” as being too shallow for a ship of her size and draught and that on being directed to carry out the order, had requested that it be given to him “in writing”.  Neither did the Court hear evidence that the argument grew heated, and attracted attention of the Harbourmaster’s superior officer who listened to the dispute.  The Assistant Harbourmaster suggested that the “Richard Montgomery” should interchange positions with another ship of 24 ft. draught, lying in much deeper water, and due out in the same convoy.  The superior disregarded the assistant’s suggestion and chided him for questioning a decision made by an officer of great experience in the matter.

The Assistant withdrew from the room and the order was carried out.  The Assistant was posted to another section two days later, and did not attend the Enquiry.

5.0   The Environment of the Wreck

5.1   The Study by the Hydraulics Research Station

The first requirements for any assessment of the security of the wreck and its explosive hazard is a full description of its condition and environment.  We have therefore attempted to obtain a copy of the report of studies which were conducted by the Hydraulics Research Station, Wallingford, Berks, at the request of the Ministry of Defence (Navy).  This report is entitled “An investigation into proposed schemes for protecting the wreck of the S.S. “Richard Montgomery”, off Sheerness”.

Our applications were refused on the grounds that it was “not proposed to publish such technical material”.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on September 27, 2013, 11:08:50
5.2   Environmental Data for the Wreck Area

In the absence of this report, we have conducted a limited study of the wreck and its environment at minimum cost, using the following data:-

5.2.1   Photographic material covering the period 1944-72
5.2.2   Admiralty Chart 3683 “Sheerness and Approaches”.  Editions B6, B8, B12, C1, C4.
5.2.3   Medway Ports Authority Charts No. 1000, and No. 1001.
5.2.4   High altitude photos showing “Turbidity Boundaries” and tidal eddies.
5.2.5   Personal visits to the wreck, 18 June 1949 and 7 feb. 1972.
5.2.6   Echo-Soundings recorded in the vicinity of the wreck.
5.2.7   Discussions with masters of local fishing vessels.
5.2.8   Daily reports of the emergency salvage operation 23 Aug. – 25 Sept. 1944.  (Courtesy of Mr. T.P. Adams – Master stevedore)
5.2.9   “The Liberty Ships” L.A. Sawyer and W.H. Mitchell. Published 1970 Messrs. David ad Charles. Newton Abbot.
5.2.10   “A History of the Medway Conservancy Board 1881 – 1969” Robert Marsh, 1971.  Privately published.
5.2.11   Meteorological register, Shoeburyness, August – September 1944.  The Metrological Office.
5.2.12   Tidal Predictions, Sheerness.  August – September 1944.  Institute of coastal Oceanography and Tides.

5.3   The Development of the Wreck’s Environment

The “Richard Montgomery” went aground across the ridge of the shoal, her bows very nearly due north.  A few days after the stranding, her hull cracked transversely at the forward end of No. 3 hold, and flooded the forward section of the ship.

As the cargo was removed from the holds No. 4 & 5, the buoyancy of the stern increased until by September 20th it was hinging on the bow section at deck level and tilting with the tidal movement, such that the whole of the skeg and propeller showed at high water.  After finally flooding, the stern section separated and moved approximately 50 feet southwards and pivoted some 12° clockwise about the after mast before complete losing buoyancy and settling firmly on the ground.  The interaction between the wreck’s two sections and the tidal stream induced a scouring effect which quite rapidly modified the sea bed topography over a considerable area.

A further transverse break in the bow section between the forward mast and the forward end of No. 2 hatch occurred in the early 1960’s.

5.4   Direction and Strength of the Tidal Streams

Because the rivers Medway and Thames can differ considerably in relative turbidity, and “interface” between “Medway” and “Thames” water can sow itself as an abrupt colour discontinuity in aerial photographs when conditions are suitable.  (See Fig.2).  We have examined two successive frames, (numbered 2.097 and 2.080), part of a high altitude aerial survey by Fairey Surveys Ltd.) which show such an “interface” approaching the wreck area in the ebb tidal stream at 12.06 hrs. B.S.T. on May 30th 1966.  The tidal situation was 1 hr. 56 minutes after predicted high water 10.10 hrs. B.S.T. of predicted height 16.9 ft.

The irregular boundary at the interface exhibited several distinctive features which could be identified in both frames, enabling the velocity and direction of the tidal stream to be estimated by measuring the displacement of these features in the known time interval of 45 seconds.

Our measurements show that the wreck had a considerable effect on the velocity and direction of the tidal stream for some 1500 ft. downstream, and about 800 ft. on either side of the wreck.

To the north of this zone we found 068°T, 1.33 M/Sec while to the south we found very nearly the same, 069°T, 1.35M/Sec.  Within the zone, close to the west side of the wreck, velocities varied enormously, in general much lower, and tending to the direction 083°T, while the east side is dominated by the rip of eddies generated by the intensity of the current which flows through the main break at No. 3 hold and proceeds for some 1000 ft. in the direction 083°T before conforming to the general direction of flow 069°T.  (See Fig.3).

We have not obtained any further data, but it would appear reasonable to suppose that the flood tide phenomena would be of a similar nature, although of reversed directions.

5.5   The Wreck on the Sea-Bed to-day

A perspective impression of the wreck on the sea-bed is shown in Fig.4, while Fig.5 shows sections through the wreck and adjacent ground.

It can be seen that the submerged sections of the hull lie listing to starboard in an irregular depression in the sea-bed.  Banks of silt and sand have built up against the hull in places, while elsewhere it is exposed almost down to the turn of the bilge.

The main break between the principal sections passes between the severed parts of No. 3 hold and carries a powerful rip of current at half tide.  There is therefore a strong probability that some of the bombs in No. 3 hold are exposed on both sides of the break, while access to the contents of No. 2 hold is available via the adjacent crack in the hull.

We consider that the wreck and its surroundings form a stable configuration, which will continue indefinitely, provided that the integrity of the hull is maintained.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on September 30, 2013, 11:41:19
6.0   THE SECURITY OF THE WRECK
6.1   The Range of Hazards

The condition and situation of the wreck is such that an assessment of the factors which could result in a dangerous disturbance is required.  These could range from the continuous movement of the waves breaking over it, through the process of natural decay, right up to human intervention motivated by malice.

6.2   Types of Disturbance

6.2.1   Natural break-up and collapse of the hull, deck, cargo, masts and spars as corrosion proceeds within.
6.2.2   External disturbances by heavy seas, tidal currents, movement of sand banks and similar sources of stress.
6.2.3   Accidental impact by weighty flotsam, “drifting ships”, irresponsible navigation and ships “off course” at speed.
6.2.4   Visitors and sightseers clambering around.
6.2.5   Clandestine attempts to salvage valuable parts of the wreck.
6.2.6   Clandestine removal of part of the cargo.
6.2.7   Malicious attempts to detonate the cargo “in situ”.

6.3   Instances of Disturbance

Most of the subsequent material was obtained from persons known to us who were questioned in a friendly and informal manner and can only be a sample of the total activity aboard the wreck during the past 27 years.  The following comments refer to the relevant item in Sec. 6.2.

6.3.1   A comparison between recent and early photos of the wreck shows that a very considerable deterioration has occurred.  Seven cargo booms have fallen on to the wreck below, while five more booms and the three masts have yet to fall.  The loading plan shows that the lower hatch covers of No. 1 and No. 2 holds were never opened, and the 2153 bombs weighing 297 Imp. Tons can fall 1 foot on to the bombs in no. 1 hold, while 2883 bombs of 176 Imp. Tons can drop 10 feet on to those in No. 2 lower hold when the tween decks collapse.
6.3.2   The hull crack at No. 2 hold, aft of the forward mast, probably results from a combination of stresses due to sand movements and tidal scour together with the tension from the long scope of anchor cable causing failure of the corroded hull plating.
6.3.3   We have been given an account by an eye witness of a small motor cargo ship (a 71 ton barge) passing over the wreck between the masts.  Many instances have been reported to use of the practice of “dumping” munitions close to the wreck by fishermen who find bombs brought up in their gear when fishing in the vicinity.
6.3.4   Our records show at least 25 persons known to us who have visited the wreck, some supplying us with photos and cine film of the occasion.  The total number of visitors during the lifetime of the wreck must be immense.
6.3.5   Much of the copper “degaussing” cable was stripped from the hull in 1956.  Among remaining items of value is the four bladed bronze propeller, 18½ ft. in diameter, and valued in the neighbourhood of 5000 dollars (U.S.) in 1968.
6.3.6   Our informant (Ref. 6.3.5) also mentioned that several bombs were visible at low water, lying under water against the scuppers of the forward section on the starboard side.  If his identification was correct (he says that he did not touch them), the question of how they got there is highly relevant, since Mr. T. Adams, in charge of the emergency salvage operation, states definitely that the deck was clear of bombs in 1944.  These could have been “dumped” (Ref. 6.3.3), in which case they would still be there, if the bulwarks are intact.
6.3.7   A threat to “blow up” the ship was made by students in January 1969 as part of a rag day “jape” to gather funds for a charity.  Not surprisingly this resulted in the immediate interrogation of the ring-leaders by the police.  Parliamentary questions were asked and divers checked the wreck for signs on interference.

6.4   A Security Check

The probability that a determined individual would be deterred from tampering with the wreck and its contents seems small, and at present neither the means nor the will exists to detect any such activity if it is conducted in a clandestine manner.

We have ourselves visited the wreck on February 7th, 1972, and stayed in the very close vicinity for 2 hours (09.15-11.15 hrs.), taking photographs and noting its condition.  This was done openly and without any attempt at concealment.

Our presence was reported to the Medway Port Authority by the Coxswain of the Sheerness life-boat, who had been fishing in the vicinity.

We do not consider the wreck to be secure.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 02, 2013, 09:48:57
7.0   THE CARGO OF THE “RICHARD MONTGOMERY”
7.1   The Stowage Plan and Salvage reports

The original cargo as loaded at Hog Island, Philadelphia, consisted of 6862 short tons of munitions for the United States Army Air Force.  A full description showing quantities, weights and disposition in the ship is given in the stowage plan (Fig.6).  We have also studied the daily reports of the emergency salvage operation, which were loaned to us by Mr. T. P. Adams, the Master Stevedore.  These describe each item handled, state the hold from which it was taken, and its disposition in the vessel alongside.  By referring to both these documents, a complete inventory of the cargo remaining aboard was prepared.  Some indication of the magnitude of the quantity and type of material involved is given in the following summary, while the full inventory of original and remaining cargo is given in Fig.7.

7.2   Summarised Inventory

Description and PackingOriginal TonnagePresent Tonnage+
Short   Imp    UnitsShort   Imp    Units
Loose Bombs G.P. Various3045    2719   130641667    1488   5558
Loose Bombs S.A.P.2564    2289   77391435    1282   4103
Cases Bombs Cluster Frag.629     562    9022173*    156*   2618
Cases Bombs Smoke White Phos.107     95     1429107     95     1429
Cases Bombs Demol’n. 100 lb.91      81     1427Nil               
Cases Fuses86      77     152212      11     226
Cases Bursters2       2      28Nil               
Cases Ammo. Small Arms39      35     817Nil               
Cases Signals35      31     89524      21     639
Cases Non Explosives (Fins)264     236    21619134     120    11613
TOTALS6862    6127   -3552    3173   -

*Some of these items may have been incorrectly described in the salvage data, and could be reduced by 39 tons U.S.  We have assumed that all the small arms ammunition was removed.

+The relatively small quantity of ammunition in the ship’s magazine for her own defence was not known and is omitted.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 03, 2013, 19:17:26
7.3   The Loose Bombs

By far the largest classes of remaining material are the G.P. (General Purpose) and S.A.P. (Semi-Armour Piercing) bombs which have a combined weight of 2770 Imp. Tons, and comprises over 85% of the remaining cargo. 

The remaining G.P. 250lb. bombs are stowed all across the forward end of No.1 Tween Deck hold, and the after end of No.2 Tween Dock hold.  All other G.P. and S.A.P. bombs are stowed in the lower hold, with the exception of a stack of G.P. 500 lb. bombs, across the after end of No.1 Tween deck hold.

In the lower holds, these bombs are stowed with their axes lying “fore and aft” and are layered in stacks across the width of the holds, with dunnage boards interspersed to ensure secure packing.  The depth of stacks is about 15 ft. above the floors of the holds.

The position of the contents of the after portion of No.3 hold is not precisely known.  As stated in section 5.3, the stern section of the hull pivoted with the rise and fall of the tide and could have tilted at some 15 degrees to the horizontal.  All or some of the contents could have piled in to the sea bed and now lie under the ridge of sand which passes between the two principal sections.

We have also referred to the break in the bow section at the forward end of No.2 hold, which is evident in the aerial photos taken in 1966.  This break has not increased substantially and we are of the opinion that no bombs have emerged through it.

7.4   Fuses and Bursters

All the fuses and bursters were cased and stowed separately in No.3 Tween deck hold, (all bursters were salved) and it seems likely that the remaining cases of fuses could have survived.

7.5   Cluster Fragmentation Bombs

We have received very little information concerning the cluster fragmentation bombs which are individually packed in wooden transit cases and appear to have an integral arming system.

7.6   The Non Explosive Cargo

The white phosphorous smoke bombs seem to provide a potential toxic hazard of indefinite life span, while the remaining material does not seem well suited to remain active after 27 years of total immersion.

7.7   The Principal Explosive Material

As stated in section 7.3, the G.P. and S.A.P. bombs (comprising of 5558 and 4103 units respectively) altogether weigh 2770 Imperial tons and comprise over 88% of the total remaining cargo.

The condition of these bombs is therefore fundamental to the whole issue, since their detonation alone would produce very considerable damage nearby, while if they are no longer capable of detonation, all the other groups of explosive assembly in the wreck present a hazard which is trivial by comparison.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 07, 2013, 16:38:31
7.8   The General Purpose Bombs

All were made to the same general design and consist of a steel case with a hole at each end for insertion of the arming assembly (fuses, detonators, gaines, etc).  The explosive filling was cast into the case, which was then sealed for storage or shipment by means of waterproof plugs which were screwed into the arming holes.  Although the types of explosive filling are not known, they are almost certainly T.N.T. based.  The tail fins are not fitted, neither are the bombs armed.  We are advised that the high explosive content of this type of bomb is approximately 40% of its nominal weight.

Nominal WeightNumberTotal WeightG.P. Bombs
250 lb2021212 Imp. TonsTotal Weight
500 lb1407301 Imp. TonsHigh Explosive
1000 lb1844730 Imp. Tons647 Imp. Tons
2000 lb286245 Imp. TonsApprox.
Totals –55581488 Imp. Tons

7.9   The Semi Armour-Piercing Bombs

Essentially the same method of manufacture was employed as that used for the G.P. bombs, except that the forged steel cases have a different shape and thickness, and are probably of a tougher grade of metal.  They are similarly filled and sealed with a waterproof plug in the single arming hole, located at the rear end.  Again the high explosive is probably T.N.T. based, but it only represents about 35% of the nominal weight.  There are two sizes of this type of bomb aboard the wreck, as follows:-

Nominal WeightNumberTotal WeightS.A.P.  Bombs
500 lb1925402 Imp. TonsTotal Weight High Explosive
1000 lb2178880 Imp. Tons491 Imp. Tons Approx.
Totals –41031282 Imp. Tons

7.10   The Effectiveness of the High Explosive Fillings (G.P. & S.A.P.)

Certain types of T.N.T. based explosive, such as amatol, contain additives which render them hygroscopic and liable to deterioration by absorbing moisture from the atmosphere.  It is for this reason that all the bombs, irrespective of the filling, were plugged and made waterproof during manufacture.  Since the cases are of thick steel, and are mostly in their original stacks in the hull of the wreck, it must be considered probable that they have remained watertight and that their contents are dry and effective.

7.11   The Result of “Aging” on High explosive

Any particular explosive is manufactured to conform with a specification which defines its sensitivity and stability.  These particular qualities may vary with age, and after a suitable period it is normally destroyed because it is considered unsafe.

The “safe” lifetime of the material aboard the wreck is not known, but all similar high explosive of the same age must have been disposed of very many years ago for safety reasons.

We must therefore assume that the explosive fillings are not as safe as they were on manufacture, and therefore the risk of explosion is not decreasing as time passes.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 31, 2013, 14:24:46
8.0   CONCLUSIONS

8.1   The Explosive Hazard of the USS “Richard Montgomery”

We have established that the principal source of explosive hazard lies in the huge concentrations of G.P. and S.A.P. bombs in the forward section.  Their explosive fillings are certainly effective and it is almost certain that the detonations of any one of these bombs will “set off” the remainder.  The wreck is subject to a variety of disturbances, and since it is not physically secure against any type of interference, we can only conclude that the nearby centres of population are exposed to a serious explosive hazard which will continue undiminished so long as the bombs remain.

8.2   The Accuracy of the Ministerial Statements (Sections 3.1 and 3.7)

It is now obvious that our findings are in fundamental disagreement with the statements made by Ministers in the House of Commons and elsewhere.  In accordance with Section 1.2, we find as follows:-

8.2.1   The original cargo was 6,127 tons; not 8,687 tons.
8.2.2   The remaining cargo is 3,173 tons; not approx. 4,340 (half of 8,687).
8.2.3   The remaining H.E. weight is very nearly 1,200 tons; not approx. 1,445 tons T.N.T.
8.2.4.   The wreck is in three sections; not two sections*.
8.2.5   The wreck is not sunk deep into the sand and mud.
8.2.6   The wreck is not secure against disturbance.
8.2.7   The risk is not decreasing as time passes.
8.2.8   By comparison with absolute safety, the chances of explosion are not remote.

(* As the result of our enquiries, the Marine division of the department of Trade and Industry informed the clerk to the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee by letter dated March 10th, 1972, that out statement is correct.  We would mention that our photos show this break in 1966).

8.3   The Quality of Official Knowledge

We consider that the several departments which concern themselves with the affair of the “Richard Montgomery” have never striven for a real understanding of the circumstances of the wreck and a full knowledge of the quantity, description and stowage of the remaining cargo.

Instead, they have gathered a weak collection of wrong and inadequate information which has been used to generate incorrect advice, bad decisions and frame unsound policies which are unrelated to reality.

The situation has arisen because the problem has been confined to closed groups whose “expertise” has never been exposed to public discussion and criticism.

If discussion had been open, the material contained in this study would undoubtedly have come to light in the normal course of events.  It has always been available, but never sought.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on October 31, 2013, 21:37:53
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3605.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_3605.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3606.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_3606.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3607.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_3607.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3608.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_3608.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3609.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_3609.jpg.html)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 06, 2013, 11:53:05
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3610-Copy.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_3610-Copy.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3611_renamed_4880.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_3611_renamed_4880.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_3611-Copy_renamed_20987.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_3611-Copy_renamed_20987.jpg.html)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: John38 on November 06, 2013, 16:31:51
What an incredible post! Many thanks, Kyn.

If you look at Fig 7 in conjunction with the “Layout of The USS Richard Montgomery” it is possible to calculate all sorts of things.

Assuming the vessel’s un-laden Centre of Gravity (CG) is, say, on a line running vertically through the Funnel, then it is possible to work out the ‘moments’ of each of the bomb loads and ultimately what effect they have on the final Centre of Gravity. Alternatively, one could use a line drawn vertically from tip of the bow and use that as a Datum for calculating ‘moments about a point’. All of which would be useful if they ever tried moving the vessel, or parts of it, or parts of the cargo.

Also they must know the ‘Maximum Floor Loading Strength’ of each deck; that is to say how many tons per sq inch it would take to pierce a hole in the deck: this would be determined by the thickness of the steel. Then they could calculate the rate of corrosion, extrapolate the decrease in Floor Loading Strength and thus forecast when the bombs on the upper decks will fall upon the lower loads.

This isn’t really a Eureka moment (no pun intended) but came to mind when Fig 7 reminded me of an Aircraft Trim Sheet. At the risk of patronising a clever bunch of people: an aircraft is like a ship, and both are like a seesaw. An aircraft has its basic CG determined by weighing it on scales placed under its nose-wheels and its main undercarriages. Using a Nose Datum they calculate the CG of the empty aircraft.

If lots of weights are placed near the tail the aircraft becomes tail heavy and this can be compensated by placing weights forward – like a seesaw – The total amount of weight you can put in each is determined by the Floor Loading Strength and Max Compartment Loading permitted (to stop the aircraft bending beyond safe limits). With an aircraft it was possible to plot the effect of each item on a graph to the right hand side – ultimately one establishes the final location the Centre of Gravity of a fully laden aircraft. This is important – nose heavy means you can’t raise the nose enough on landing (crash, or nose wheel collapses) – tail heavy: can’t get enough flaps/slats/tabs to fly level.

OOOps sorry really got into this!
 

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 08, 2013, 20:17:13
Some close ups of the cargo plan.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 09, 2013, 13:12:10
The last five close ups...
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 10, 2013, 22:51:31
MEMORANDUM

CONFIDENTIAL

Procurement Executive,
Ministry of Defence,
Explosives Research and
Development Establishment,
Powdermill Lane,
Waltham Abbey, Essex.

’Dry Dock’ Salvage Proposal for the Wreck of the SS “Richard Montgomery” Assessment of Explosive Hazards

1.   `A meeting was held at DTI Marine Branch, Sunley House, on 28th March 1972 of organisations concerned with the above wreck.

It was agreed at this meeting that a Working Party of explosive experts be set up to assess possible explosive hazards associated with the ‘dry dock’ salvage proposal and to recommend whether these are at a level sufficiently low to permit that proposal to be implemented.

2.   A tentative list of members of this Working Party is appended.  It would be appreciated if proposed members would indicate their willingness to serve on this Working Party, and suggest any additional members they may feel should be asked to take part.

3.   Details of the ‘dry dock’ salvage proposal and notice of the first meeting will be circulated as soon as possible.

S J Hawkins
ERDE, MOD (PE)

c.c. Proposed membership:

DTI Marine Division 3 (Mr E R Hargreaves, Mr A C T Slade).
DOE Marine Engineering Branch (Mr W J Cozens, Mr D Rowe-Kitchell).
Port of London Authority (Capt. G R Rees).
Medway Ports Authority (Capt. D Gibbons).
Flag Officer, Medway (Capt. L W H Taylor, Lt. Cdr. Johnson-Newall).

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 11, 2013, 20:46:21
This was an interesting one!

From:   Commander C E K Robinson Royal Navy

Office of the Flag Officer, Medway
H.M. Naval Base
Chatham

D Gibbons Esq
The Harbour Master
Medway Ports Authority
Sheerness Docks
Sheerness

10 April 1972

Thank you so much for your letter of 5 April, with its very interesting comments on the HRS report about the “Richard Montgomery”.  It was also noted by HMS Nurton in her recent survey that a very large scour exists downtide of the wreck, so this, too, supports your comment that there is no evidence of filling of the scour.

I understand that, following the meeting of 28 March, we will be meeting shortly to talk about the wreck buoyage position, and I will telephone to arrange a convenient date.

With best wishes,

C. Robinson



MEDWAY PORTS AUTHORITY
Comments on Hydraulics Research Stations
Report on their investigation of “Wreck
Of S.S. Richard Montgomery Off Sheerness”
January 1971 Report No: EX 508

The following comments on the report are listed in seriatim, with page and line number indicated.

INTRODUCTION

Page 1, paragraph 2, line 3.

The depth of water on the bank is on average 26 ft. at High Water Springs.  On the eastern channel side, a large area of 22 ft. at High Water Sprigs precedes the 26 ft. contour, therefore vessels must, in fact, pass over 22 ft. and/or 26 ft. of water before reaching the deeper water that surrounds the stranded vessel.  On the western channel side, an average depth of 25 ft. is encountered with a shoal area of 6 – 12 ft. at 90° to central section (superstructure) before passing into deeper water.  Therefore, a large vessel that is drifting into the danger area would in all probability ground before reaching the wreck.  If high water allowed the vessel to drift over the shoal areas, then the wreck itself would be partly submerged.

The Bank befoe 1944 (1890 – 1937)

Page 2, paragraph 1, line 1.

a)   Summary of comparisons of Admiralty Charts from 1907 – 1923 a period of 16 years:-

(a)   The 3 fathom contour area is reduced.
(b)   The 2 fathom area is extended.
(c)   The 1 fathom contour area is created.

b)   Summary of comparisons of Admiralty Charts from 1923 – 1929 a period of 6 years:-
(a)   The 3 fathom contour area is extended.
(b)   The 2 fathom contour area is reduced.
(c)   The 1 fathom contour area is reduced.

c)   Summary of comparisons of Admiralty Charts from 1929 – 1937 a period of 8 years.

(a)   The 3 fathom contour area is extended.
(b)   The 2 fathom contour area is extended.
(c)   The 1 fathom contour area is extended.

The period of b) and c) which is shorter than period a) shows that although the 1 fathom patch did not show marked growth, the overall bank showed much the same rate of growth as in the first period.  Study of 1967 pattern (History Medway Channel 1886 – 1970) apart from the wreck area, shows a positive comparison with the 1937 pattern.

Therefore, there is very little evidence to support the supposition that the bank had a slower rate of growth in the 1923 – 1937 period.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on November 12, 2013, 08:58:03
A C T Slade Esq
Marine Division Branch 3B
Department of Trade and Industry
Sunley House
90 High Holborn
LONDON WC1V 6LP

9 May 1972

1.   Thank you for your letter of 21 April inviting the comments of the Flag Officer Medway on the report published by the Southend Chamber of Trade about the wreck of SS RICHARD MONTGOMERY.

2.   This report has been read with considerable interest.  In all fairness it must be said that, despite its frequent accusations of official inaction, it is, for an unofficial document, well prepared and well produced, and would appear to contain a reasonably accurate synopsis of the history of the wreck and the present situation concerning it.  If nothing else, the document gives clear evidence of the degree of public concern which still exists on both sides of the Thames Estuary over this long standing hazard.

3.   The comments which follow do not attempt in every case to list the discrepancies between the report and other records held in this office, since it is assumed that these discrepancies are apparent from your own files.

4.   The Flag Officer Medway’s views do not differ significantly from, and he had no comment to offer upon, Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Chamber of Trade Report.

5.   Section 4 purports to state facts about Naval involvement in the original stranding.  Flag Officer Medway has no records covering this period and it would be necessary to refer to Ministry of Defence archives if it were desired to take up these points.  As seen from here, this would be a time-consuming and probably pointless exercise.

6.   No comment is offered on Section 5.

7.   The types of disturbance listed in paragraph 6.2. are all agreed to be theoretically possible.  However, these in 6.2.1, 6.2.2 and 6.2.7 should, perhaps, be regarded as the more likely causes of an explosion.  In the present climate of public security, the risk of maliciously motivated interference with the cargo (6.2.7) must, it is considered, be taken much more seriously than in the past.  With regard to the risk of collapse of the hull, (6.2.1), the possibility should not be excluded of the wreck capsizing into the scour hole alongside, as has happened with other wrecks off the East Coast.

8.   The so called security check referred to in paragraph 6.4 was, as is admitted, known to the authorities, and the identity of at least one of the intruders was known.  No proceedings were initiated as there seemed no point in according free publicity to the escapade.

9.   Neither the expertise not the records are available in this office from which to comment usefully on Section 7.

10.   The comments of the Flag Officer Medway on Section 8 (conclusions) of the report are as follows:-

a)   Para 8.1  (The Explosive Hazard) – Agreed subject to a semantic quibble on the use of the word ‘serious’ in the penultimate line.

b)   Para 6.2  (The Accuracy of Ministerial Statements).

i)   8.2.1, 8.2.2, 8.2.3    A sterile arithmetical argument which even if accepted, does not significantly affect the problem.
ii)   8.2.4  Apparently already accepted by your Department.
iii)   8.2.5  Also a semantic exercise; survey evidence proves that considerable sinkage has in fact taken place.
iv)   8.2.6  Agreed, strongly supported, and the most telling argument for clearance action.
v)   8.2.7  Agreed, if the work ‘significantly’ is inserted before ‘decreasing’.
vi)   8.2.8  The statement as it stands is meaningless.  A better form of wording might have been “The chances of explosion, whilst remote, remain sufficient to engender serious and continuing public disquiet.”

c)   Para 8.3 (The Quality if Official Knowledge).  It would be pointless, if not presumptuous, for the Flag Officer Medway to comment upon this statement, which can only detract from any assessment of the objectivity of this self styled report.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: John38 on November 12, 2013, 13:34:21
There's a really big"BUT" in this letter isn't there?  (As in, We agree with your letter BUT....)

They begin by saying that the previous letter was "...reasonably accurate" before inserting a theoretical 'but' and slowly dismantling it with such phrases as not attempting to "... list the discrepancies," and,  "The so called security check referred to in paragraph 6.4"

My favourite put-downs are:

a semantic quibble on the use of the word ‘serious’

A sterile arithmetical argument

The statement as it stands is meaningless

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on May 05, 2014, 16:01:45
Photo taken yesterday by my brother.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: helcion on July 22, 2014, 07:08:20

19/7/14  -  from the preserved tug KENT.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on July 23, 2014, 12:31:46
21 April 1971.

Dear Goodenough

WRECK OF SS ‘RICHARD MONTGOMERY’

Thank you for your letter of 29 January, addressed to Slade, and for the information contained therein.

We enquired of the Medway Ports Authority as to whether any bombs had been dredged up in the last 2/3 years which could have come from the wreck and Captain Gibbons has now told us that to the best of his knowledge no bombs have been dredged up from the area which might have come from the ‘Richard Montgomery’.   He added that the Medway Ports Authority are currently engaging in a dredging program for the deepening of the Medway Approach Channel, which commenced on the 18 March and is scheduled to last about 5 weeks.  To date no bombs have been dredged up, but a number of shells have been recovered all of which have been positively identified by the Bomb and Mine Disposal Unit from HMS ‘Vernon’, Portsmouth as being of British manufacture and either pre 1900 vintage of pre 1939-45 stock.  He will keep us informed should any other suspect projectiles be found.

Yours sincerely

V Marlow



Sheerness Congregational Church
Hope street, Sheerness, Kent.

20th October, 1971

The Minister of the Environment.

Sir,

Our pastoral duties bring us into touch with a wide cross-section of the population of this area.  In recent weeks, we have noted an increasing degree of concern on the subject of the wrecked ammunition ship which lies in shallow water close to the beaches of Sheerness.  The current strong winds and high tides have given rise to reported movements of the wreck, with an upsurge of anxiety as to the ultimate results.

We feel that modern technology and experience ought to be able to provide some method whereby, without endangering the life of anyone, the effect of a possible explosion could be reduced to its minimum level.  Some of us can remember using sandbags to muffle the explosive power of anti-personnel mines, etc., and wonder if a marine equivalent is both possible and feasible.

We ask that the eradication of this danger should be given the high priority it merits.

Yours faithfully,
Baptist
Church of England
Congregational



2 November 1971

Dear Sirs,

Your letter of 20 October 1971 addressed to the Minister of the Environment about the wreck of the SS “Richard Montgomery” has been transmitted to this Department for a reply.

The Department fully appreciate the public interest and anxiety about this wreck and considerable investigation has been carried out into the situation over the years to decide upon the best course of action to safeguard the public and allay their fear.  The Department have been advised by experts that interference with the wreck could trigger off an explosion of the contents, and because of this and of further advice that the danger of spontaneous explosion was decreasing with the passage of time it has been decided at recent reviews to continue to leave the wreck undisturbed.  This year there has been a further review of the situation, including a study into the feasibility of placing a barrier around the wreck to protect it from drifting ships, and it is hoped to make the results available shortly.  I will see that you receive a copy of any press report issued in this connection.

In your letter you mentioned the possible hazard from aircraft using the planned new airport at Foulness.  The Department have already taken expert advice in this matter and have been informed that vibrations of sonic booms emanating from aircraft flying overhead are most unlikely to have any effect on the munitions in the wreck.

You may be assured that the Department will continue to keep a close watch on the situation and that further reviews will be held from time to time.  Meanwhile 2 lighted buoys and an electric fog horn still mark the wreck and a 24 hour river patrol carries out a check when in the vicinity.  There are also warning notices on the buoys and the wreck.

Yours faithfully

A C T Slade



Sheerness Congregational Church
Hope street, Sheerness, Kent.

16th November, 1971

To: The Department of Trade and Industry.

Dear Sirs,

S.S. “Richard Montgomery”

1.   In reply to your MNA 13/4/037 (4) of yesterday’s date.

2.   We are not satisfied that sufficient attention has been paid to the natural anxiety of a population which lives very near a hazardous wreck, and whose anxieties are reinforced with every extra-high tide or strong wind.  This anxiety, naturally, is keenest among those responsible for children who are daily in close proximity to the wreck.  We remember that the “Texaco Caribbean” was fully 5 miles off Folkestone when she exploded, yet we managed a great deal of damage over a wide area.

3.   Neither are we satisfied that the point made about Foulness Airport has been given sufficient attention, as the use of aircraft involves more than the incidence of sonic booms.

4.   The barrier that you had in mind, we presume, was a floating barrier; we had in mind some kind of bulwark against the effects of explosion which could rest on the sea bed and both muffle the explosion laterally and prevent the minor tidal wave which could result.

5.   Whilst we have the greatest confidences generally in experts, Aberfan and its aftermath is a potent reminder that even experts may be respectfully asked to think again.

6.   We trust that some further thinking will be done on this subject.

Yours faithfully,
Baptist
Church of England
Congregational




23 November 1971

Dear Miss Witt

Your letter of the 22 November addressed to Tony Goodenough has been passed to me, as I have taken over for him, and I have read the letter and enclosures with interest.

I regret that I cannot see what further comments this Department can be usefully expected to make – there is nothing really new in the Reverend Cockerell’s remarks and the kind of incidents which he appears to envisage as setting off the bombs in the “Richard Montgomery” would in themselves qualify as Acts of God.  Presumably the Churchmen of Sheerness are in a better position to anticipate these than we are!

One final point – the marking “CONFIDENTIAL” insofar as this Department understands it refers to “information the unauthorised disclosure of which would be detrimental to the interests of the nation”.  I don’t really feel that such a security marking can be justified in the present case.  Because I’ve told you what CONFIDENTIAL means, I’ll now have to grade this letter “RESTRICTED!”.  Perhaps in subsequent correspondence we can dispense with security markings.

Yours sincerely

B.D. Thomas.



Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: filmer01 on July 23, 2014, 15:02:49
B.D.Thomas = Sir Humphrey?  :) :)

You couldn't make it up - could you?
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Sentinel S4 on July 23, 2014, 20:21:50
B.D.Thomas = Sir Humphrey?  :) :)

You couldn't make it up - could you?

This guy was brilliant! I would love to have asked him a really direct question. just to see what kind of answer finally came out. Yes Sir Humphrey to a 'T'....

S4.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: howard on July 24, 2014, 20:20:59
B.D.Thomas = Sir Humphrey?  :) :)

You couldn't make it up - could you?

This guy was brilliant! I would love to have asked him a really direct question. just to see what kind of answer finally came out. Yes Sir Humphrey to a 'T'....

S4.
I must have read this with a different viewpoint to you chaps. I rather thought that he was talking with his tonge in his cheek and gently extracting the michael.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Desbrow on August 20, 2014, 22:04:09
Reading that the Richard Montgomery ran aground 70 years ago today I thought I'd share the following recollection/travel tip info.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be on holiday in San Francisco.  As part of the trip my hosts had booked a harbour tour that went out under the Golden Gate Bridge and close by Alcatraz.  They were not taken aback by my excitement upon seeing the grey, anonymous looking World War Two cargo ship that we passed by on our way out of port.  San Francisco has the only remaining unaltered Liberty ship still afloat. 

It's a strange experience for an Islander to see a whole ship below those familiar masts and quiet an eye opener to realise what a large vessel lies just under the waters off Sheerness.

If you are ever in the San Francisco area do take the opportunity to have a look at the SS Jeremiah O'Brien.

There's a website for her here that has some great info and photos, including when she was in dry dock, that are interesting to view in conjunction with the periodic site sonar images that are taken of the Montgomery.  Here's the link:

 http://www.ssjeremiahobrien.org/ (http://www.ssjeremiahobrien.org/)

I see from that site that she took part in the 50th anniversary of D-Day and made her way up the Thames.  Did anyone see her when she visited in 1994?
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Sentinel S4 on August 20, 2014, 22:22:59
Yes, but I did not have a camera at the time...... I would like to get into her engine room as she has a proper steam engine.......

S4.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: howard on August 21, 2014, 15:04:08
Have you been on 'Shieldhall' yet S4?
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Sentinel S4 on August 21, 2014, 16:59:47
Sadly not. I did manage the Clearway before she was broken up, lovely little dredger with a three cylinder triple...... Enough said.

S4.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: helcion on October 04, 2014, 21:37:16
She’s still there !

Masts of the MONTGOMERY, taken from the WAVERLEY at pretty close to low water as she entered the Medway on 2/10/14.     
At least 15 Cormorants, can't read the large KEEP AWAY DANGER sign on one of the masts.

Plus, at no extra charge, the Medway pilot departing as the WAVERLEY headed back to towards the Thames a little later.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: helcion on October 04, 2014, 22:22:46
Whoops !      The pilot boat photo left here vertical but has come up on the forum as horizontal.

I'm darned if I can get it the right way up  -  could one of the moderators kindly weave their magic on it   -   thanks.

How do you send 'portrait' format pix ?
Thanks again.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 17, 2015, 22:31:05
22 Hemyock Road,
Selly Oak,
Birmingham B29 4DG.
26/11/71

Mr. A.C.T. Slade,
Department of Trade & Industry,
Marine Division Branch 3B,
90 High Holborn,
London WC1V 6LP.

Dear Sir,

Re: Wreck of the SS “Richard Montgomery”.

Thank you for your letter of the 16/11/71, with regards to the above matter, and had your reference MNA 13/4/037 (4).  Please accept my apology for the delay in the reply, but I was away on a short holiday.

My idea is to blow up the vessel, thereby removing its danger.  To do this, we must first construct a steel dome around the vessel, with a hole at its apex that has a Diameter of two feet, to give the blast an outlet.  The hole will be covered with reinforced steel mesh wire, and some springs, thereby preventing any heavy metal to escape from the blast.

Though I have every confidence that this idea will be successful, I shall be only too happy to come down to London, and support my plan from any objections which may occur.

Trusting that I have been of some assistance.

Yours faithfully,

V.D.S.J. Persad.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 30, 2015, 23:46:51
Head of Salvage Department.

Salvage Operations on S.S. “Richard Montgomery” at East Nore Sands.

On Wednesday 23rd August 1944, I proceeded to the vessel which was lying aground at East Nore Sands loaded with bombs, detonators and ammunition.

Three gangs of stevedores (Messrs. Watson & Gill) mustered at Chatham, left Sheerness at 9.0 a.m. and on arrival commenced rigging derricks etc. at Nos. 1, 3 and 5 holds.

At 9.45 a.m. *.s. “Empire Nutfield” arrived alongside and moored on the starboard side forward.

At 1.0 p.m. discharge of cargo (bomb fins) commenced at No.3 hold using two gangs, and at 2.0 p.m., after shifting timber etc. No.1. hold commenced discharging bombs, both to S.S. “Empire Nutfield”.

At 2.55 p.m. s.s. “Flathouse” moored alongside on the port side aft and discharge from No.5 hold commenced to No.1. hold of s.s. “Flathouse”.

At 4.30 p.m. discharge ceased for the day and gangs left for Sheerness arriving at 5.10 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 3 hold to “Empire Nutfield” 1,020 fin assembly parts
From No. 5. Hold to “Flathouse” 12 – 250-lb. bombs.

Steam tug “Atlantic Cock” supplying steam for winches at the after of the ship.

On Thursday 24th August, at 8.15 a.m. three gangs left sheerness for ss. “Richard Montgomery” and on arrival resumed discharging of No. 3 hold by hand to s.s. “Empire Nutfield” and from No. 5 hold to No. 1. Hold of s.s. “Flathouse” steam being supplied by tug “Atlantic cock”.

At 1.0 p.m. flexible steam pipe etc. was obtained from Sheerness Dockyard and placed on board and connected up at 2.30 p.m.

At  2.45 p.m. commenced discharging No.1 hold into No. 2 hold of s.s. “Empire Nutfield”.

At 3.0 p.m. discharge ceased at No.3 hold, as tide rose above the cargo and ** stevedore gang rigged derricks at No. 2 hold and cleared damage from No.1 hold.

At 4.30p.m. work ceased for the day and workmen landed at Sheerness at 5.10 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1 hold 20 – 500-lbs. bombs and 20 – 250-lb. bombs to No.2 hold of s.s. “Empire Nutfield”.
From No.3. hold to s.s. “Empire Nutfield” (No.3 hold) 1,000 Fin Assembly parts.
From No.5. hold to s.s. “Nuthouse” (No.1. hold) 307 – 250-lb. bombs.

On Friday 25th August three gangs left Sheerness at 8.45 a.m. to s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and on arrival resumed No.1. hold into No.2. hold of s.s. “Empire Nutfield” and No.3. old into No.3. hold of s.s. “Empire Nutfield”, and No.5. hold to No.1. hold of s.s. “Flathouse”, the tug “Atlantic Cock” supplying steam.  At 3.0 p.m. tidy submerged cargo in No.3 hold and No.3. gang transferred to No.5. hold to clear damage.  At 4.30 p.m. ceased discharging and workmen arrived at Sheerness at 5.0 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1. hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 254 – 250-lb. and 78 – 5—lb. bombs.
From No.3. hold to No.3. old s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 505 cases fuses.
From No.5. hold to No.1. hold s.s. “Flathouse” 409 – 250-lb. bombs.

On Saturday 26th August at 8.30 a.m. stevedores (three gangs) left Sheerness for s.s. “Richard Montgomery”, and on arrival resumed discharging Nos. 1, 3 and 5 holds, tug “Atlantic Cock” and s.s. “Empire Nutfield” supplying steam.  Work ceased at 11.30 a.m. and workmen arrived at Sheerness at noon.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1. hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 96 – 500-lb. and 25 – 250-lb. bombs.
From No.3 hold to No. 3 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 301 cases fuses.
From No.5. hold to No.1. hold s.s. “Flathouse”. 124 – 250-lb. bombs.

On Sunday 27th August at 8.45 a.m. three gangsa left Sheerness for the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”, and on arrival resumed discharging No.s 1, 3 and 5 holds, the tug “Atlantic Cock” and s.s. “Empire Nutfield” supplying steam.

No.3 hold 29 cases of bursters were placed on deck forward ready for ****** transport to shore, work being started at this hatch at 10.30 ******* tide left the cases.  At 10.30 a.m. the steampipe from tug “Atlantic Cock” was carried away by swell from passing vessels and was connected up again by 11.15 a.m.

At 3.0 p.m. the cargo in No.3 hold again submerged.  Commenced discharging No.2 hold, part crew from s.s. “Empire Nutfield” engaged in breaking stowage and clearing the damage.  Work ceased at 4.30 p.m. and workmen landed at 5.0 p.m. at Sheerness.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1 hold to No.2 s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 268 – 250-lb. abd 35 – 500-lb bombs.
From No.2 hold to No.3 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 65 cases fuses.
From No.3 hold to no.3 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 425 cases fuses.
From No.5 hold to no.1. hold s.s. “Flathouse” 295 – 250-lb. bombs.

On Monday 28th August three gangs left sheerness at 10.0 a.m. after inspecting accommodation prepared for the workmen by the Naval authorities.  On arrival on board s.s. “Richard Montgomery” discharging was resumed at Nos. 1 and 5 holds, the tug “Atlantic Cock” and s.s. “Empire Nutfield” supplying steam.  (Cargo at No.3 hold submerged throughout the day).

The 29 cases of bursters which had previously been placed on deck were loaded into the barge “Gladys” which was towed to Upnor by the tug “Tampeon”.

At 6.30 p.m. work ceased and stevedores were landed at Sheerness at 7.0 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1. hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 219 – 500-lb. bombs.
From No.2 hold to No.3 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 737 cases Cluster Fragmentation Bombs.
From No.5 hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 282 – 500-lb. bombs.

On Tuesday the 29th August at 8.45 a.m. four gangs left Sheerness for the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and on arrival resumed discharging Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 holds, the tug “Atlantic Cock” and s.s. “Empire Nutfield” supplying steam.  The tug “Atlantic Cock” towed “YC83” from Sheerness to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” with four submersible pumps for pumping Nos. 1 and 2 holds where water was making rapidly.  These pumps were placed in position, one in No.1 hold and one in No.2 hold and the generator hove on board the s.s Richard Montgomery’s” deck aft and run when connected up.

At 6.30 p.m. work ceased and stevedores landed at 7.10 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1. to No.2 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 335 – 250-lb. bombs and 38 – 500-lb. bombs.
From No.2 to No.3 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 519 cases Fragmentation bombs.
From No.4 to No.4 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 778 cases fragmentation bombs, 99 cases of bomb assemblies, and 273 Fin Assembly parts.
From No.5 to No.2 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 300 – 500-lb. bombs.

On Wednesday 30th August at 7.15 a.m. pumping commenced at Nos. 1 and 2 holds to keep water below level of cargo.  At 9.30 a.m. four gangs of stevedores after placing their baggage at the Barracks outside Sheerness Dockyard where they were to be billeted, left for s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and on arrival resumed discharging Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5 holds, the tug “Atlantic Cock” and s.s. “Empire Nutfield” supplying steam.

The cargo in No.1. hold was clear of water and in No.2 hold water was showing in the after end, which was cleared by noon.
Pumping continued throughout the day reducing the water in No.2 hold (when a space had been cleared to place the pump about 10-ft. below cargo level) to about 8-ft. below the tween decks.  Water was reduced in No.1. hold to about 14-feet below the deck.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1. hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 435 – 250-lb. bombs.
From No.2 hold to No.3 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 803 cases Fragmentation Bombs and small arms ammunition.
From No.4 hold to No.4 hold s.s “Flathouse” 23 Bomb Assembly cases, 143 cases Wire Assembly parts, 196 Fin Assembly parts, 1 demolition Bomb, 10 cases Fragmentation Bombs.

At 6.30 p.m. work ceased and stevedores landed at 7.0 p.m.

On Thursday 31st August at *a.m. pumping was resumed in Nos. 1 and 2 holds to keep the water below cargo level.  (Water was gaining in Nos. 1 and 2 holds at the rate of 2-ft. 6-ins. per day.  At 8.15 a.m. stevedores – four gangs – left Sheerness and on  arrival resumed discharging Nos. 1, 2,4 and 5 holds, the tug “Atlantic Cock” and s.s. “Empire Nutfield” supplying steam.

At 4.50 p.m. signalled destroyer “D.11” which was proceeding to Sheerness to slow down.  At 4.55 p.m. the destroyer proceeding at high speed broke the moorings of the two ships and the tug lying alongside the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.  The s.s. “Flathouse” which was just taking the ground rolled violently falling with each roll heavily on to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” causing heavy damage to the port side of s.s. “Flathouse”.

At 6.30 p.m. work ceased for the day and stevedores landed at Sheerness at 7.10 p.m.

A small motor pump from s.s “Empire Nutfield” was used to pump the fore peak of the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 1. Hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 386 – 250-lb. bombs.
From no. 2 hold to nos. 3 and 4 holds s.s “Empire Nutfield” 669 cases Fragmentation bombs.
From No. 4 hold to No. 4 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 1,005 cases Fragmentation Bombs.
From No. 5 hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 450 – 250-lb. bombs and 80 Fin Assembly parts.

On Friday 1st September four gangs left Sheerness at 8.15 a.m. (also Dockyard Pumping Crew), and on arrival resumed discharging Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 holds, the tug “Atlantic Cock” and s.s. “Empire Nutfield” supplying steam.  The water in Nos. 1 and 2 holds was kept to about 7-ft. below the tween decks.

Work ceased at 6.30 p.m.  No. 2 hatch was battened down as the deck amidships was submerged at high water.

At 7.0  p.m. the stevedores landed at Sheerness.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1. hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 190 – 500-lb. bombs.
From no.2 hold to Nos. 3 and 4 holds s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 805 cases Fragmentation Bombs and small arms components.
From No. 4 hold to No. 4 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 150 cases Fragmentation Bombs and 504 – 100-lb. Demolition Bombs.
From No.5 hold to No.2 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 415 – 250-lb. bombs and 116 – 500-lb. bombs.

On Saturday 2nd September at 8.15 a.m. four gangs and pumping crew left Sheerness for the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and on arrival resumed discharging Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 holds, the tug “Atlantic Cock” and the s.s. “Empire Nutfield” supplying steam.  Wind Southerly, fresh, Water in Nos. 1 and 2 holds kept to 7-ft. below tween decks.  Work ceased at 11.30 a.m. and No.2 hatch battened down.  Stevedores landed at 12.15 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.1. hold to No. 2 hold s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 65 – 500-lb. bombs.
From No.2 hold to Nos.3 and 4 holds s.s. “Empire Nutfield” 201 cases Fragmentation Bombs.
From no.4 hold to No.3 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 420 Fin Assembly Parts.
From No. 5 hold to No.1 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 63 – 500-lb. bombs.

At 1.0 p.m. the writer and Foreman Stevedore left Sheerness on the tug “Atlantic Cock” for the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” to watch her over high water as S.West wind was increasing in force with rough sea.

On arrival No. 4 hold was securely battened down with the assistance of Officers and engineers of s.s. “Empire Nutfield” and s.s. Flathouse” and another tarpaulin was placed on No. 2 hatch and battened down and the generator transferred to s.s. “Flathouse” for safety.  At 2.30 p.m. the tug “Atlantic Cock” proceeded to Sheerness and ceased work.  The Salvage Officer and Foreman Stevedore left the ship at 5.40 p.m. by “Peacemaker” and arrived at Sheerness at 6.20 p.m.

On Sunday 3rd September at 2.30 a.m. owing to strong SW – NW gale the s.s. “Empire Nutfield” left the s.s. “Richard Montgomery and proceeded to anchorage.  Heavy seas were breaking over the vessel and washed the tarpaulins and hatches from No.2 hold causing the fore-end to flood and sink.  Owing to the gale at s.s. “Flathouse” lying on the weather side was unable to leave the vessel.

At 9.15 a.m. four gangs left Sheerness and arrived at the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” at 10.0 a.m.  Discharge was resumed at Nos. 4 and 5 holds, the tug “Atlantic Cock” supplying steam.  The stevedores gangs were doubled, the work being difficult owing to the weather which remained bad, seas breaking over the s.s. “Richard Montgomery’s” fore feck all day making pumping impossible forward.

At 11.0 a.m. the s.s. “Empire Nutfield” proceeded to Sheerness and anchored.

At 4.30 p.m. work ceased and stevedores landed at 5.10 p.m.

Cargo Discharged:-

From No. 5 hold to No.1 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 195 – 1000 bombs.
From No.4 hold to No.3 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 34 – 1000 bombs.

Two stevedores gangs were released to-day.

On Monday 4th September at 8.30 a.m. two gangs left Sheerness for the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and on arrival resumed discharging Nos. 4 and 5 holds.  Wind S.W. strong and freshening with rough sea, which prevented pumping forward.

A submersible pump was placed in No.4 hold and loose water was pumped from the fore end of the hold.  Discharge continued throughout and at 1.30 p.m. weather became too bad for further work and after battening hatches stevedores left the ship for Sheerness on s.s. “Flathouse” and tug “Atlantic Cock” which arrived at Kethole Reach and anchored at 3.15 p.m. stevedores arriving at Sheerness by tug “Atlantic Cock” at 4.15 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.4 hold to No.3 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 26 – 1000-lb. bombs.
From No.5 hold to No.1 hold s.s. “Flathouse” 92 – 5000-lb. bombs.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: mikeb on January 31, 2015, 12:39:02
Very interesting Kyn, working conditions for the stevedores & ships crews must have been "difficult" at best. I hope they were paid well!

I thought it might be of interest to delve into the three ships engaged in the salvage, even if it adds nothing to the Richard Montgomery story itself:-

S.S. Flathouse was built in 1931 and broken up in 1961 at Grays Essex.

S.T. Atlantic Cock was built in 1932 and apart from war service when she was requisitioned (she was mined on the Clyde in 1941), spent her working life on the Thames. Scrapped in 1971.

S.S. Empire Nutfield Built in Dublin 1909 and was requisitioned in both World Wars. Empire Nutfield was scuttled in 1946 in the Bay of Biscay loaded with "obsolete chemical warfare ammunition"! I have not been able to find a photo of her.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on January 31, 2015, 22:01:43
Thank you for adding the additional information.  It is good to have a lead on other vessels mentioned for those that want to look into it more.

There are another 7 pages or so to be transcribed when time permits.  It is interesting to read the report as this hasn't really been touched on yet.  As you say the conditions must have been quite uncomfortable and probably quite scary considering what they were doing!
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on February 19, 2015, 17:44:09
Proceeded to s.s. “ Empire Nutfield” and s.s. “Flathouse” at Kethole Reach with Salvage Officer and Foreman stevedore.

Later the tug “Atlantic Cock” towed “Y.C.83” from Sheerness and took on board the generator and equipment for pumping and towed her to Sheerness.  The cargo in s.s. “Empire Nutfield” was made secure for proceeding to sea.  Examination of s.s. “Flathouse” shewed leaking rivets in port bilge and further loading was cancelled.

The Salvage Officer and Foreman Stevedore proceeded to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” on the tug “Atlantic Cock” and stood by over high water.  Wind S.W. Strong to gale with rough sea and seas breaking over No.4 hatch.  The 19-ft. 6-in. draft mark was showing aft at high water.

On Wednesday 6th September at 8.0 a.m. two gangs left Sheerness on the tug “Atlantic Cock” which towed “Y.C.83” to s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.  The gangs were employed in shifting fin assemblies from lower holds of Nos. 4 and 5 to space in ‘tween decks in order to uncover bombs which would be required in the bottoms of next vessel loading.

The submersible pump in No.4 hold was used tor educe the water.

At 1.30 p.m. the tug “Atlantic Cock” connected up steam and a second pump was rigged and placed in No.4 hold.

At 2.30 p.m. No.4 hold was battened down again as tide reached top of the hatch.

At 3.0 p.m. work ceased and stevedores proceeded to Sheerness on the tug “Atlantic Cock” which towed “Y.C.83” arriving at 3.30 p.m.  The Salvage Officer arranged the hire of the barge “Princess Mary” for discharge tomorrow.

On Thursday 7th September at 8.0 a.m. owing to strong N.N.E. breeze and rough sea operations were cancelled.  The tug “Atlantic Cock” with “Y.C.83” left for s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and on rounding Garrison Point found sea too rough to proceed.  The “Y.C.83” was placed at North Wall and the tug “Atlantic Cock” with the Salvage Officer proceeded to the vessel and watched her over high water and later returned to Sheerness.

On Friday 8th September at 8.15 a.m. the tug “Atlantic Cock” left Sheerness with the “Y.C.83” with stevedores (two gangs) and pumping party and the “Cracker” towed barge “Princess Mary” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.  On arrival two gangs levelled off coal (34 tons) which was lying in the lighter and resumed discharging from No.5 hold, timber for dunnaging the barge and then bombs, the tug “Atlantic Cock” supplying steam.

One gang at No.4 hold hove up fin assemblies and stowed them on deck after filling vacant space in the ‘tween deck.  The weather was too bad to work on the weather side.  Loose water was pumped down from No.4 hold.  At 3.15 p.m. stevedores left he ship (fore end of No.4 hatch submerged), and arrived at 4.15 p.m.  At high water the vessel’s stern was standing out of the water at an angle of 35°.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.5 hold to “Princess Mary” 163 – 500-lb. bombs.

On Saturday 9th September at 8.30 a.m. two gangs left Sheerness on the tug “Atlantic Cock” which towed “Y.C.83” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.  The tug “Westcreek” towed the “Princess Mary” to port side of the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”, but owing to the strong N.*. wind and rough seas was unable to lie **** and the “Westcreek” towed her back to Sheerness.

Resumed discharging cargo from No.4 hold, the tug “Atlantic Cock” supplying steam (fin assembly parts) and No.5 gang placed fins which were stowed on deck into the “Y.C.83”.  Pumping loose water from No.4 hold was continued.

At 11.30 a.m. work ceased and stevedores landed at Sheerness at 0.10 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.4 hold and from after deck to “Y.C.83” 1,166 fin assembly parts.

On arrival the tug “Atlantic Cock” was dispensed with.  The tug “Gondis” left Gravesend towing the barge “March” to Sheerness.

On Sunday 10th September at 8.30 a.m. the gangs left Sheerness on the “Gondis” which towed barges “Patna” and “Y.C.83” and tug “Westcreek” towed “Princess Mary” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”

On arrival discharge was resumed from Nos. 4 and 5 holds, and continued until 5.30 p.m. the “Gondis” supplying steam.  Loose water was pumped from No.4 hold.

The “Westcreek” towed the “Princess Mary” to Stangate Creek and the “Gondis” towed “Patna” and “Y.C.83” to Sheerness.  Stevedores landed at 6.0 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.4 hold to “Patna” 750 fin assembly parts and 89 – 100-lb. bombs,
From No.5 hold to “Princess Mary” 337 – 500-lb. bombs.

On Monday 11th September at 9.30 a.m. the tug “Craker” towed barge “Chanda” and the “March” to the port side of the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and the “Con**” left with two gangs and towing the “Patna” and “Y.C.83” to the vessel.

On arrival discharge was resumed from Nos. 4 and 5 holds the “Gondis” supplying steam.  Loose water was pumped from No.4 hold, and at 6.15 p.m. work ceased.  The “Cracker” towed the “March” and “Chanda” and “Gondis” towed “Patna” and “Y.C.83” to Sheerness arriving at 6.50 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.4 hold to “Patna” 465 cases Fragmentation Bombs.
548 Fin Assembly Parts, 16 cases Fire Arming, 1 case detonators.
From No.5 hold to the “Chanda” 419 – 500-lb. bombs.

On Tuesday 12th September at 8.15 a.m. two gangs left Sheerness on the “Gondis” which towed “Chand**” and “Y.C.83” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and tug “Advice” towed barge “March”.

On arrival sea was too rough to work on the port side and the Gondis” towed “Chanda” to Sheerness and returned and supplied steam.  Loose water was pumped from No.4 hold.

At 6.15 p.m. work ceased and the “Gondis” towed the “Y.C.83” and “Advice” towed “March” to Sheerness arriving at 6.40 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No.4 hold to “March” 743 fin assembly parts, 103 cases Fragmentation Bombs and 36 – 100-lb. Demolition Bombs.

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Maid of Kent on February 19, 2015, 22:06:21
Just a quick thank you to helcion for the photo of the pilot boat - sent the link to my friends who are sitting watching the pilot 'jump' They were delighted
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 09, 2015, 08:57:14
On Wednesday 13th September at 10.0 a.m. the “Gondis” left Sheerness with two gangs and towing “March”; the tug “Panther” towed the barges “Barry” and “Cowes” and s.v. “Yantlet” towed “Y.C.83” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.

On arrival derricks were altered to suit the work (vessel’s stern being high out of the water) and discharging was resumed from Nos. 4 and 5 holds, the “Gondis” supplying steam; the “Yantlet” at anchor preparing four steam pumps for pumping the fore end of the vessel.

At 7.45 p.m. stevedores landed at Sheerness.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “March” 6 cases Fragmentation Bombs. 887 – 100-lb. Demolition Bombs.
From No. 5 hold to “Barry” 320 – 500-lb, Bombs.

On Thursday the 14th September at 10.30 a.m., two gangs left Sheerness on the “Gondis” which towed “Barry” and s.v. “Yantlet” towed “Y.C.83” and “Panther” towed “Cowes” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.

At high water work was resumed in Nos. 4 and 5 holds the “Gondis” supplying steam.

The s.v. “Yantlet” prepared and laid a 3-ton anchor with 15 fathoms of cable chain and 120 fathoms of 4 1/2-in. wire off the starboard quarter of the vessel, and prepared another anchor for laying out.

Work ceased at 7.30 p.m. and stevedores left the ship on the “Gondis” which towed the “Cowes” to Sheerness, “Panther” towing “Barry” and s.v. “Yantlet” the “Y.C.83” arriving at 8.15 p.m.

Thick fuel oil was mixed with the water in No. 3 hold today and this was reduced by submersible pumps.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “Cowes” 149 – 1000-lb. Bombs.
From No. 5 hold to “Barry” 304 – 500-lb. Bombs.

On Friday 15th September at 8.0 a.m. two gangs left Sheerness on the “Gondis” which towed “Barry”to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”, - the “Panther” towed “Cowes” and s.v. “Yantllet” towed the “Y.C.83”.  On arrival discharge was resumed in Nos. 4 and 5 holds, the “Gondis” supplying steam.

The s.v. “Yantlet” laid a 3-ton anchor with 15-fathoms of cable chain and 120-fathoms of 4 ½-in. wire off the vessel’s port quarter and connected steam to and ran for testing purposes 4 – 8” steam pumps.

At 6.15 p.m. work ceased.  Bombs discharged from NO. 4 hold have been lying in fuel oil and are difficult to handle.  The s.v. “Yantlet” towed the “Y.C.83” to Sheerness, the “Gondis” towed the “Barry” and the “Panther” towed the “Cowes” to Stangate Creek loaded.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “Cowes” 166 – 1000-lb. Bombs.
From No. 5 hold to “Barry” 333 – 500-lb. Bombs.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: kyn on June 09, 2015, 20:24:43
Unfortunately the following page is too blurry to read clearly enough to transcribe.

At 10.15 a.m. the “Panther” left the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” proceeded to Stangate Creek and towed the barge “Instow” to the “Yantlet” lying at anchor off the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.

At 5.50 p.m. stevedores and craft left the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” (Fresh easterly wind and rough sea).  The “Panther” towed the “Capella””, loaded, to Stangate Creek and the “Gondis” towed the “Teak” to Sheerness arriving at 6.20 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “Teak” 140 – 1000-lb. Bombs.
From No. 5 hold to “Capella” 433 – 500-lb. Bombs.


The “Panther” towed the “Teak” to Stangate Creek (loaded).

On Tuesday the 19th September at 7.0 a.m. the s.v. “Yantlet” towed the “Y.C.83” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” to pump the fore end of the vessel if the hatch coamings came clear.

At 8.15 a.m. two games left Sheerness on the “Gondis” after who had towed the “Capella”, loaded, loaded, to Stangate Creek, and the “Panther” towed barge “Pelton” from stagnate Creek to port side of the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and towed the “Instow” to starboard side.

On arrival discharge was resumed from Nos. 4 and 5 holds, steam being supplied by the “Gondis”.  The “Panther” towed the “Y.C.83” from the s.v. “Yantlet” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”, and loose water and oil were pumped from cargo in No.4 hold over high water.

At 4.30 p.m. work ceased.  The s.v. “Yantlet” towed the “Y.C.83” and the “Gondis” towed the “Instow” and the “Panther” towed the “Pelton” to Sheerness arriving at 5.0 p.m.

At high water the s.s. “Richard Montgomery’s” stern stands sharply out of the water.  Her propeller and skeg are showing and work in holds is difficult.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “Instow” 138 – 1000-lb. Bombs.
From No. 5 hold to “Pelton” 307 – 500-lb. Bombs.

The forward hatch coaming showed 4-ins. above water at low water today, and the pumping operation was postponed until the higher spring tides beginning on the 1st October.

On Wednesday the 20th September at 8.15 a.m. two gangs left Sheerness on the “Gondis” which towed the “Instow” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”, the “Panther” towing the “Pelton” and s.v. “Yantlet” towing “Y.C.83”.

On arrival discharge was resumed from Nos. 4 and 5 holds and oll and water were pumped from No. 4 hold.

At 10.0 a.m. the “Panther” left the s.s. “Richard Montgomery” and proceeded to coal hulk “C.109” in Medway and bunkered, returning to the vessel at 1.0 p.m. when the s.v. “Yantlet” left for Gravesend.

At 6.30 p.m. stevedores left on the “Gondis” which towed the “Instow” to Sheerness.  The “Panther” towed the “Pelton” to Sheerness and later towed the “Instow” (loaded” to Stangate Creek.

At 7.10 p.m. the stevedores landed at Sheerness.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “Instow” 16 – 1000-lb. Bombs.
From No. 5 hold to “Pelton” 399 – 500-lb. Bombs.

On Thursday 21st September owing to dense fog two gangs were delayed and left Sheerness at 10. A.m. on the “Gondis” which towed the “Pelton” and the “Y.C.83” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”, and the “Panther” towed the “Didcot”.  On arrival discharge was resumed in Nos. 4 and 5 holds, steam being supplied by the “Gondis”.

Oil and water were pumped from No. 4 hold during high water.  At 6.30 p.m. stevedores and craft left the ship, the “Gondis” towing the “Pelton” and the “Y.C.83” and “Panther” towing the “Didcot” to Sheerness, arriving at 7.15 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “Didcot” 119 – 1000-lb. Bombs
From No. 5 hold to “Pelton” 2 – 500-lb. Bombs, and 3327 fin assembly parts, completing discharge of No. 5 hold except for about 200 fin assembly parts stowed in the fore end of the ‘tween decks.

The “Panther” towed the “Pelton” to Stangate Creek (loaded) and the “Panther” was dispersed with.

On Friday the 22nd September owing to fog one gang was delayed from leaving Sheerness until 9.0 a.m., the “Gondis” towed “Y.C.83” and the “Didcot” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.

On arrival discharge was resumed from No. 4 hold, steam being supplied by the “Gondis”.

Oil and water were pumped from No. 4 hold.

At 6.15 p.m. discharging ceased for the day and at 6.30 p.m. the “Gondis” towed the “Didcot” and “Y.C.83” to Sheerness, arriving at 7.10 p.m.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “Didcot” 120 – 1000-lb. Bombs.

On Saturday 23rd September at 8.10 a.m. the “Gondis” left Sheerness with one gang towing the “Didcot” and “Y.C.83” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.

On arrival discharge was resumed from No. 4 hold and oil and water pumped out.

At 11.25 a.m. stevedores left the vessel on the “Gondis” which towed the “Didcot” and the Y.C.83” to Sheerness.

Cargo discharged:-

From No. 4 hold to “Didcot” 67 – 1000-lb. Bombs.

The “Gondis” towed the “Didcot” to Stangate Creek (loaded).

On Sunday 24th September during strong wind and sea, one gang left Sheerness on the “Gondis” which towed the “Queenbury”, and the “Y.C.83” to the s.s. “Richard Montgoemry”.  Discharging was resumed from No. 4 hold, on arrival and 175 – 1000-lb. bombs placed in the “Queenbury”.  Oil and water were pumped from No. 4 hold.

At 3.50 p.m. discharging ceased.  The “Gondis” towed the “Queenbury” and the “Y.C.83” to Sheerness arriving at 4.30 p.m.

On Monday the 25th September at *.15 a.m. one gang left Sheerness on the “Gondis” which towed the “Queenbury” and the “Y.C.83” to the s.s. “Richard Montgomery”.

Discharge from No. 4 hold was resumed on arrival and water and oil pumped out as discharge progressed.  At 5.50 p.m. discharge of No. 4 hold was completed and stevedores left the ship returning to Sheerness on “Gondis” which towed the “Queenbury” and the “Y.C.83” to Sheerness, arriving at 6.20 p.m.  The “Gondis” towed the barge “Queenbury” to Standage Creek and was dispensed with.

The total amount of cargo discharged to date is 3,175 tons, today’s discharge from No.4 hold being 124 – 1000-lb. Bombs.

J. W. Edwards
Assistant Mooring & Wreck Raising Officer.
12th October 1944.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: helcion on December 21, 2015, 08:15:05
Interesting report with an excellent sonar scan of the wreck   -

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/sittingbourne/news/bomb-ship-is-cracking-up-48058/
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: grandarog on December 21, 2015, 20:31:24
Another chance for Ronangel to spread alarm with his links.Scroll down the comments he's right there.Mike Barker must be too busy with his job as Father Christmas to comment.  :)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: davpott on December 21, 2015, 21:48:38
Another chance for Ronangel to spread alarm with his links.Scroll down the comments he's right there.Mike Barker must be too busy with his job as Father Christmas to comment.  :)

I did notice somewhere recently that it was a terrorist target. I didn't bother read the details as I immediately gathered the source of the story.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: helcion on December 21, 2015, 22:43:58
I wondered how long it would take before he surfaced . . . . .
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Nemo on December 22, 2015, 21:32:55
I suppose anything is possible but I have difficulty in picturing a group of terrorists brain-storming things to blow up on a wet and windy Tuesday night using whatever the £1.03 in the kitty will buy and coming up with "the Messines Ridge, only underwater this time - the Montgomery". I think it gives terrorists a bad name and whatever adjectives you apply to them, 'stupid' isn't one.  I'd be more worried if a post-it sticker was found affixed to the masts saying "we've cracked it and tomorrow is boom-time!"
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: grandarog on December 23, 2015, 21:00:32
Another scare mongering reporter picked up ,this time national news paper.
http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/625023/Anti-terror-ISIS-WW11-Police-Islamic-State-SS-Richard-Montgomery-Kent?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=DX%2Fad22%2Fcpc%2FKentISIS&utm_term=DX%2Fad22%2Fcpc%2FKentISIS&utm_content=DX%2Fad22%2Fcpc%2FKentISIS
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: peterchall on December 23, 2015, 22:39:19
Who can doubt that ISIL would blow it up if they could? Whether or not they actually could I’m not qualified to say.

But if the paper is quoting a transport minister and the security services correctly,.they consider it enough of a threat to do something about it.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Sentinel S4 on December 24, 2015, 09:10:24
A few years ago Terry Smith wrote a rubbish (my opinion) book about a bunch of Middle Eastern terrorists doing this very thing with the Monty. I still have the book on my Kindle, it really is bad but it did highlight a problem. I pretty well upset Ronangel and the buffoon (MBE) by giving away the ending of the tome, I think they might have been consulted by Mr T Smith during the research. The truth is that the book actually gives a stage by stage way of detonating the Monty, if you can get the correct gear together. SPOILER ALERT! The plot fails by some good luck and a little effort from the hero. At the end it does highlight that the LNG tankers could do far more damage than the Monty ever could, they are the equivalent of the Hiroshima bomb floating around in a narrow channel.

However let me ask this of you: The IRA were far more inventive than ISIL, during their campaign Chatham was a 'legitimate military target' so why the hell did they not blow her up? I really think that we do not have much to worry about, it must really be a slow news season or the buffoon (MBE) is running out of beer tokens, this is scare mongering at its lowest form and I for one am sick to the back teeth of the hype...

S4.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Bilgerat on December 24, 2015, 12:48:27
Maybe I'm being a little naive here, though I do try to take Government assurances about things with a bucketful of salt. I would like to think that if the Monty is that dangerous and that given the potential consequences of getting it wrong, that the Government with all the practically unlimited resources available to them would have done something about it by now.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Nemo on December 24, 2015, 17:21:45
Thanks a bunch Bilgerat! It's Christmas Eve, the presents are purchased, I still have all my internal organs, and no.1 granddaughter visits tomorrow. And then in the same post you put 'Government with unlimited resources' and 'do something'.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
Give me a light that I may safely tread
And he replied, Neem, that light of which you spoke
Is the sign of a government, felt obliged to have a poke!

 :)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: 80sChild on April 18, 2016, 13:10:05
I saw a programme last night on Channel 4 called Hidden Britain by Drone, and it was hosted by Tony Robinson.
In it they travelled around the country visiting various points of historical interest, and used the Drones to film great arial shots of the landmarks.

And last night they explored this wreck. They explained the history of the American ship, how it got marooned off the coast of Sheerness (they showed radar images of it having broken in half), and it's possible future (there's still a strong debate going on as what's to be done with I t- many have voiced concerns about the inherent danger of hundreds of tons of ammunition that could go off and cause vast damage, whilst others have said any attempts to intervene could prove disastrous).

If I'm honest I've never actually SEEN the wreck itself (even from a safe distance) but I've heard (and read) a lot about it.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: conan on December 04, 2017, 23:14:57
There's some good stuff on the ship here, including this sonar image


(https://i.imgur.com/BE01IKZl.jpg)

http://www.bobleroi.co.uk/ScrapBook/SSRichardMontgomery/SSRichardMontgomery.html

Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Derek45 on December 20, 2017, 12:46:05
Two photos I took in the sixties from The Silver Star, which was owned by Reg Carter, a Maidstone and District bus driver.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: MartinR on December 20, 2017, 23:11:27
Quote
If I'm honest I've never actually SEEN the wreck itself (even from a safe distance) but I've heard (and read) a lot about it.

To be honest there's not a lot to see.  Four decent sized buoys including an unusual yellow cone and yellow can, and a string of small orange ones surrounding the prohibited area.  Three barnacled masts with peeling warning boards and that's your lot.  I've never been closer than half a cable from it, but even with binoculars it's a case of oo ah, seen that, move on.  No 1, The Thames (aka Grain Tower) is far more interesting if you're in that area.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Twyfordbridge on June 27, 2018, 17:05:47
The Captain of the SS Richard Montgomery.

According to Wikipedia, various websites and the Southend Dept of Trade & Industry lengthy document included in this post by Kyn, the Captain was a Charles Wilkie.

According to a book by Greg Williams, Liberty Ships of WW II, the Captain was actually Frederick Willecke, born in Bremen Germany on 19 Jan 1890, later becoming a US citizen. After the Montgomery incident he remained here and traveled back to USA from Southampton on the John Ericsson departing Nov 30 and arriving home in New York on 12 Dec 1944.

Meanwhile, whilst still here in UK he probably had a few drinks in the Southend Masonic Hall where he was made an Honorary Member on 31 Oct 1944.

I don’t know, but would imagine that he preferred to be known as Captain Wilkie as a shortened version rather than Captain Willecke... which when pronounced correctly would have sounded ‘Villecke’, maybe just a bit too German sounding in the circumstances.
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Twyfordbridge on October 02, 2018, 16:44:20
I don’t think this has been shared on here already, apologies if wrong.
Captain Willecke, Master of vessel, signed report on the sinking.
Courtesy and permission from Daniel Blamey, Essex Coastguard who I believe obtained it from Leonard NADEL a crew member who also supplied his own memories of the incident
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: conan on October 02, 2018, 19:52:35
Twyfordbridge ,I've shrunk these down to make them easier to read

(https://i.imgur.com/A01tTtoh.jpg)

(https://i.imgur.com/Ftd6PjCh.jpg)
Title: Re: SS Richard Montgomery
Post by: Twyfordbridge on October 02, 2018, 20:13:23
Thank you again Conan. Herb Collector has told me how to resize photos. Think I’d better practice before posting the others🙄