Curiosities No.2: The SS Richard Montgomery shipwreck

In my reply to PaulS’ comment on my reasons for visiting the Isle of Grain, I said I’d explain in a series of posts in the coming days.

One reason was to see the site of the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery, a shipwreck with more than 1500 tons of unexploded ordnance.  The wreck is 1.5 miles from shore, and lies at a depth of 15 m. At all states of the tide, her three masts are visible above the water.

I’ve long known about the wreck, and felt a need to see its location. The weather was misty on the day of our visit to the Isle of Grain, and such that I could barely see the three masts from the shore. Although I had a better view through our binoculars. I’ve no desire to see the wreck any closer than from shore. Curiosity now satisfied.

In August 1944 the ship was carrying over 6,000 tons of munitions. Arriving in the Medway estuary she was waiting to join a convoy to Cherbourg in France. Perhaps she was given poor directions on where to anchor, being to close too the Nore sandbank. After dragging her anchor, she ran aground on the sandbank, breaking her back in the process. The BBC’s report in 2015 of the events of the shipwreck and recovery of most of her cargo are reported HERE.

The state of the vessel is constantly monitored. The most recent Marine & Coastguard Agency survey report on its state is Dstl_Phase_2_Summary_Report 2017, and an earlier more detailed one – SSRM_2015_Summary_Report_final.  Rather than write more about the wreck here, I’ve attached two videos, both are overly dramatic, but then that’s the whole point.  The videos come after some photos of the wreck.

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