Fears grow that WW2 wreck could explode on Kent coast

“Perhaps the biggest question of all is: who will take responsibility for what happens if it all goes wrong?”


It is 75 years this Tuesday since the SS Richard Montgomery sank off the Kent coast on its way to allied-occupied France. But the remains of the US cargo vessel, which went down on 20 August 1944, with more than 6,000 tonnes of munitions on board, continue to haunt the Thames estuary.

With politicians and salvage experts divided over the extent of the threat that the most monitored wreck in British waters poses beneath the waves, there are fresh fears that the ship is breaking up, leading to concerns its potentially explosive cargo could be scattered across the seabed.

Two surveys, from November 2017 and April 2018, indicate that the wreck is stable overall but is showing accelerated levels of deterioration.

Labour peer Lord Harris, who takes a close interest in the vessel, said that experts had told him “the wreckage of the SS Richard Montgomery may only have a few years remaining before it disintegrates completely”.

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