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Rudely but surely they bedded the plinth of the days to come.
Behind the feet of the Legions and before the Norseman’s ire
Rudely but greatly begat they the framing of State and Shire
Rudely but deeply they laboured, and their labour stand till now.
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Author Topic: SS Richard Montgomery  (Read 194743 times)

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Offline filmer01

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #192 on: July 23, 2014, 15:02:49 »
B.D.Thomas = Sir Humphrey?  :) :)

You couldn't make it up - could you?
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #191 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.




Offline helcion

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #190 on: July 22, 2014, 07:08:20 »

19/7/14  -  from the preserved tug KENT.

Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #189 on: May 05, 2014, 16:01:45 »
Photo taken yesterday by my brother.

John38

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #188 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


Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #187 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #186 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #185 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).


Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #184 on: November 09, 2013, 13:12:10 »
The last five close ups...

Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #183 on: November 08, 2013, 20:17:13 »
Some close ups of the cargo plan.

John38

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #182 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!
 


Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #181 on: November 06, 2013, 11:53:05 »





Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #180 on: October 31, 2013, 21:37:53 »









Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #179 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: SS Richard Montgomery
« Reply #178 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.

 

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