When we first got our boat in 2004 we took her for a fortnight’s holiday in the Med. The River Medway I mean, one of the tributaries to the Thames near the estuary. The weather, unlike this September was glorious, and we enjoyed a true Indian summer, swimming, sunbathing & generally messing about on the river.
One morning was mistier than the others, so we decided to go for a little explore round the Swale. As we headed out into the river, the following image came into view through the mists…
…surrounded by yellow red and green navigation and warning buoy of the exclusion zone, the masts of the SS Richard Montgomery could be seen, emerging from the mists.
Sunk in 1944 when she ran aground following dragging her anchor, the ship was loaded with 1,500 tons of explosives. The salvage operation failed to recover much of the cargo, and as a result the ship was designated as a dangerous wreck and an exclusion zone was placed around it.
A survey conducted in 2000 found that the wreck still contained 1,500 tons of TNT high explosive which could be detonated by a collision, an attack or even shifting of the cargo in the tide.
According to a BBC news report in 1970 a 5m tidal wave would be generated by the blast however subsequent reports have stated that the wave would be about 1m high, still enough to cause flooding to some coastal towns.
In 1967 a similar wreck in Folkstone from 1946 exploded with force equivalent to an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, which has discouraged the salvage of the munitions from the Montgomery.
Seeing the masts of the SS Richard Montgomery slowly appear through the mists was most definitely the spookiest thing I have ever seen at sea!
Here’s the post that reminded me of my photo, thanks Jody!
To find out more about this weeks Travel Theme, hop over to ‘Where’s My Backpack?‘