Military Review

Fear of repeating Beirut. Will the transport sunk at the Thames estuary explode?

31

The masts of the sunken transport Richard Montgomery


The echo of the explosion in the port of Beirut swept across the planet, bringing out some of the skeletons in the closet. Once again in Great Britain they started talking about the Richard Montgomery transport that sank during the Second World War. The ship sank at the estuary of the Thames at shallow depth in September 1944. Everything would be fine, but on board the transport that was heading to France, there were about 1,5 thousand tons of various ammunition. And, although experts estimate the likelihood of an explosion as unlikely, if it happens, it will seem little to anyone.

Richard Montgomery Liberty type transport


Transport Richard Montgomery belongs to the ships of the "Liberty" class, which became the real workers of the Second World War, providing transportation for the Allies in various theaters of war. The US-designed ship has been built in a huge series of over 2700 ships. The ships' displacement reached 14 tons, the maximum speed was up to 450 knots (just over 11 km / h).

The ship turned out to be quite successful both in terms of its cargo capabilities and production technology. The cruising range was up to 20 thousand nautical miles. In one flight, 2840 jeeps, 440 light or 260 medium jeeps could be taken on board tanks, up to 300 thousand 105-mm shells. But in practice, loads were often combined. The records that were set during the assembly of these ships testify to the adaptability of the project. So, in November 1942, the SS Robert Peary transport was built in 4 days 15 hours and 29 minutes (this is the time from bookmark to launch). This transport not only survived the war, but was also actively operated until 1963. Yet it was a propaganda trick, albeit a very successful one. But even without this, the average speed of building ships by the end of 1942 was brought to 42 days, and 18 shipyards collecting transports of the Liberty type produced the fleet three finished ships every day.


Liberty-class transport ship at sea

The transport of interest to us, Richard Montgomery, was laid down in Jacksonville, Florida. The ship was built by St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company. It began its activity in April 1942, having released 82 transport ships of the "Liberty" type until the end of the war. The Richard Montgomery was the seventh ship of this type built at the Jacksonville shipyard. The bookmark of the ship took place on March 15, 1943, and already on June 15 of the same year, the ship was launched.

Many ships of the "Liberty" type received their own names in honor of the famous historical leaders or distinguished servicemen in battles. The hero of our story was no exception. The ship was named after Richard Montgomery, an Irish national who began his career as a soldier and officer in the British army. And later he became one of the heroes of the US War of Independence, already being a General of the Continental Army.

Last voyage of Richard Montgomery transport


In August 1944, the ship was working in the Atlantic. Arriving in Great Britain, the transport was supposed to deliver military supplies to the port of Cherbourg, which completely came under the control of the Allies at the end of June 1944, but was not fully operational until mid-August. The ship Richard Montgomery, which was loaded with approximately 7 tons of various ammunition, was due to arrive in the UK, joining the HX-301 convoy, which was to travel to Cherbourg to deliver military supplies to the Allied forces fighting in France.

Arriving at the Thames estuary, the transport anchored near the port city of Sheerness, awaiting the complete formation of the convoy. On August 20, the ship weighed anchor at high tide. This was followed by a series of strange mistakes, which led to the fact that the ship was carried out on a wide sandbank near Shearness and the shipping channel in the direction of the Medway River, which flows into the Thames estuary near this city. The ship ran aground and damaged its hull. The peculiarity of the Liberty-class ships played a role here. These vessels were good and technologically advanced, but no one seriously counted on their long-term operation, focusing on mass construction.


The place where the transport sank

The entire operation of the ships of this series was accompanied by problems with the strength of the hull. On earlier transports, these problems were more pronounced, but they still could not be completely eliminated. Twelve ships of this project literally broke right into the sea, and in total, about 1,5 thousand cases of cracks in the hull structure were noted on the ships during operation. This was partly due to the rush during construction, the use of a new technology for welding hulls, and the involvement of unskilled workers in the face of a shortage of personnel. Their role was also imposed by the frequent operation of ships with overload and temperature drops in the North Atlantic.

On the second day after running aground, the Richard Montgomery began literally cracking at the seams, aided by the strength of the tides in the area. The ship could not be removed from the shallows for two weeks. At the same time, all this time, work on unloading the ship did not stop in order to save the cargo, as well as to reduce the draft of the ship. Ultimately, the ship's hull could not withstand the loads and finally broke, the water quickly flooded the front holds. At the same time, the unloading of ammunition from the aft holds continued until September 25. It was on this day that the ship, which broke into two parts, completely sank.

According to the official version, most of the dangerous goods were removed from the transport. And yet, approximately 1400 tons of various ammunition remain in its holds. At the same time, as the Guardian newspaper wrote a year ago, some experts believe that there may be twice as many explosives on board the ship than is officially believed. According to official information, there are 15 286 kg bombs, 910 4439 kg bombs, 450 1925 kg bombs, as well as 230 fragmentation and cluster bombs, various explosive substances, fuses, white phosphorus ammunition, smoke charges, signal flares, etc.

Fear of repeating Beirut. Will the transport sunk at the Thames estuary explode?

Sunken Transport Richard Montgomery

What is the danger of a sunken ship?


Currently, the sunken ship is well researched, its condition is regularly monitored by British divers and special expeditions. The ship, broken in two, lies at a depth of 15 meters on a large sandbank. At the same time, all three masts of the ship constantly stick out above the water, regardless of the beginning of the ebb or flow. It is known that the ship is lying on the bottom with a roll to starboard. Due to the presence of a large number of explosive substances on board, the vessel is under constant control of the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency. And the flood site itself is marked on all maps and highlighted by warning buoys. Despite this, over the past years, almost 24 accidents have occurred here, and once a cargo ship actually collided with debris, damaging the propeller. This only increases the risk of a possible explosion.

How sad the British joke, if the ship had sunk at the walls of the country's parliament, some work on the extraction of ammunition would have already been carried out. On the other hand, this is not so easy to do. Especially when you consider that there are unfortunate examples of such operations in English history. In July 1967, an attempt to retrieve explosive cargo from the Polish cargo ship Kielce, which sank in the English Channel near Folkestone back in 1946, ended in failure. The ship exploded during the preparatory work. As a result, a crater 6 meters deep was formed at the bottom, and the explosion itself was comparable to an earthquake equivalent to 4,5 on the Richter scale. The explosion caused real panic in Folkestone, although there were no casualties in the city. At the same time, experts note that Kielce sank at a distance of 4 miles from the coast and at greater depths.

Transport "Richard Montgomery" is much more dangerous, as it lies at a shallow depth about a mile from Sheerness. The explosion of the ship can pose a danger to all ships passing in the area, as well as to the city itself with a population of 20 thousand inhabitants and the nearest settlements, in which all windows will definitely have to be changed. In this case, glass fragments themselves will act as a striking factor and can seriously injure people. Also, one of the consequences of the explosion could be a miniature tsunami with a wave height of 4 to 16 feet (1,2 to 4,8 meters). Such a mini-tsunami will cause flooding, which will cause significant economic damage to the surrounding areas.


Image of sunken ship parts

Recent studies show that the ship's hull is increasingly corroded. Experts estimate the likelihood of a serious explosion as small. But such a scenario is not completely ruled out. An explosion can occur if the cargo is severely moved or the ship collides with debris. In an area where about five thousand ships pass every year, this cannot be ruled out. The fact that a large number of fragmentation bombs filled with fuses remain on the upper deck of the ship above the bow holds adds fuel to the fire. Their fall into the holds together with the structures of the ship and the subsequent explosion can cause a chain reaction. Also, experts do not completely exclude the possibility of an explosion in the process of spontaneous destruction of ammunition.

In any case, at the present time, work continues to monitor the condition of the vessel. And the explosion in Beirut will only give this problem additional attention. Among the latest actions the British authorities are ready to take is a project to cut the masts, the tops of which are visible above the surface of the water. The best military experts will be hired to remove the masts. At the same time, the process of removal itself is associated not so much with the elimination of the possibility of collision with other ships, but with the weakening of the pressure that they exert on the ship's hull, which collapses over time. According to experts, at present, the masts are already creating an excessive load on the entire structure of the sunken ship.
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  1. Mitroha
    Mitroha 14 August 2020 10: 08 New
    +6
    This is an invitation to terrorists, an invitation. They themselves suggested.
    1. Insurgent
      Insurgent 14 August 2020 10: 15 New
      27
      Fear of repeating Beirut. Will the transport sunk at the Thames estuary explode?

      The ship sank at a shallow depth in the Thames estuary in September 1944.


      Это происходит в Great Britain, "mistress of the seas",или в захудалом бандустане,который не в состоянии с 1944(!!!) of the year, due to glaring poverty and technical backwardness, to clear the fairway belay ?

      Где ваши "British scientists"And"Grand fleet"???
      1. BDRM 667
        BDRM 667 14 August 2020 10: 39 New
        +8
        Quote: Insurgent
        Где ваши "Британские учёные" и "Grand Fleet" ???


        Quote: Insurgent
        Это происходит в Great Britain, "владычице морей"
        -------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------- - has not been able to clear the fairway since 1944 (!!!), due to sheer poverty and technical backwardness



        It looks like all british, not just the notorious "British scientists" wassat работают исключительно против "external enemy" находя его в "новичках","хакерах", "недемократической вакцине" и так далее, и так далее...

        There is no strength left to see what is happening right under their noses.
      2. NDR-791
        NDR-791 14 August 2020 10: 43 New
        +7
        Come on!!! Lady of the seas !!! Smelly cod until 54th on coupons sold laughing I just don’t understand why it hasn’t blown up yet? The Thames estuary, countercurrents, tides, storms are good there. Does it lie shallow and does not move?
        1. Fibrizio
          Fibrizio 14 August 2020 11: 10 New
          +9
          And why should he bang? The transport of the initiating charges and the main body is usually separate. I, too, when going on a hunt, sometimes drop cartridges. They do not explode (and they will not explode, no matter how I throw them, only if the stars converge). And then there's all sorts of crap on them, depreciation.
          1. NDR-791
            NDR-791 14 August 2020 12: 27 New
            +2
            From the article ..Oil is added to the fire by the fact that a large number of fragmentation bombs filled with fuses remained on the upper deck of the ship above the bow holds.
            Probably not bombs, but fenders of the first shots. And under them are the cellars. And 127mm or even 100mm is a lot. And so I do not equip cartridges for hunting with TNT wassat and I try not to shoot those who have lain for more than five years belay
            Liberty tactical and technical characteristics:
            Displacement - 14 450 tons.
            Overall dimensions: length - 134,57 m, width - 17,3 m, draft - 8,5 m.
            Power plant - one steam engine, two boilers, power - hp 2500
            The travel speed is 11-11,5 knots (20,4-21,3 km / h).
            Cruising range - 20 000 nautical miles.
            Crew - 38-62 man (merchant seamen), 21-40 man (military sailors).
            Armament: 127-mm (or 102-mm) gun at the stern to protect against enemy submarines, 76-mm gun on the tank, up to 8-X20-mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns.
            1. Fibrizio
              Fibrizio 14 August 2020 12: 52 New
              0
              Да ладно Вам, 5 лет для патронов не срок если перепадов температуры не было. Лично знаю копателей кто стреляет из своих car 98 копаными патронами (только капсюля меняют). И летит, очень даже хорошо. А вот отсыревшие или при хранении в неотапливаемом помещении (особенно гладкие), тут да, разорвет вряд ли, но может "не полететь".
        2. GTYCBJYTH2021
          GTYCBJYTH2021 14 August 2020 13: 06 New
          -2
          Quote: NDR-791
          Come on!!! Lady of the seas !!! Smelly cod until 54th on coupons sold laughing I just don’t understand why it hasn’t blown up yet? The Thames estuary, countercurrents, tides, storms are good there. Does it lie shallow and does not move?

          You know a lot about cod, fish, apparently ...... Do you eat sturgeon and sterlet with trout? So after all, it is in the first place in nutritional value among the fish of the Northern Hemisphere, which is caught all year round
  2. RealPilot
    RealPilot 14 August 2020 10: 32 New
    +5
    Да... И ведь множество подобных грузов лежат в морях. Только вспомнить историю с Данией, которая запрещала якорное позиционирование баржи "Фортуна" (СП-2) у острова Бронхольм из-за рисков взрыва сброшенных на дно боеприпасов.

    And the British, yes, missed the deadline for safe lifting. But they could solve the issue. Although, during the war, expediency looks different, which must be taken into account.
    1. BDRM 667
      BDRM 667 14 August 2020 10: 45 New
      +2
      Quote: RealPilot
      множество подобных грузов лежат в морях. Только вспомнить историю с Данией, которая запрещала якорное позиционирование баржи "Фортуна" (СП-2) у острова Бронхольм из-за рисков взрыва сброшенных на дно боеприпасов

      "История с Данией" - вопрос чисто политический хоровода вокруг СП-2 .
      Quote: RealPilot
      And the British, yes, missed the deadline for safe lifting. But they could solve the issue. Although, during the war, expediency looks different, which must be taken into account.


      What prevented them from clearing after the war? Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, even thirty years after her?
    2. Sergey39
      Sergey39 14 August 2020 10: 58 New
      0
      Quote: RealPilot
      missed the deadline for safe lifting.

      Yes, now only the blasting remains in place. Or wait until it dissolves itself.
      1. Old Skeptic
        Old Skeptic 15 August 2020 16: 05 New
        +1
        Great idea!
        We vote!
        I am for! good
  3. Alex_You
    Alex_You 14 August 2020 11: 03 New
    +2
    Until it bursts in the water. An acquaintance of the Ministry of Emergency Situations showed the laying of shells right under the ship near the pier.
    The fact that a large number of fragmentation bombs filled with fuses remain on the upper deck of the ship above the bow holds adds fuel to the fire.

    This is on the verge of fantasy, why equip bombs with fuses during transportation?
    Either the Americans (or the British) are so stupid and lazy, or someone is terrifying.
  4. g1washntwn
    g1washntwn 14 August 2020 11: 18 New
    0
    From the sunken ships periodically poisonous substances gurgle ... and nothing. And here it is not a fact that it is loudly banging, if something spontaneously and explodes is dangerous only by the fact that unexploded power supplies are scattered into the nearby town and throughout the fairway.
  5. Bear040
    Bear040 14 August 2020 11: 27 New
    +1
    White phosphorus is a funny thing, it doesn't need oxygen to burn and explode, so it can explode properly
  6. KVU-NSVD
    KVU-NSVD 14 August 2020 11: 36 New
    +2
    Where are the fragmentation bombs with fuses on the deck? Maybe anti-aircraft ammunition in case of an attack? And even if there were combat-ready shells or bombs, they would definitely have been removed first of all during emergency unloading of a damaged ship ...
  7. Captain45
    Captain45 14 August 2020 18: 51 New
    +3
    Агентство ОБС сообщило, что возле "Ричарда Монтгомери" заметили мелькнувшую пару ласт с надписью "Петров". Ждут "Васечкина" laughing
  8. Viktor Sergeev
    Viktor Sergeev 14 August 2020 19: 14 New
    0
    You would also call the article: Terrorists on the Note.
  9. Krasnoyarsk
    Krasnoyarsk 14 August 2020 20: 24 New
    0
    = So, in November 1942, the SS Robert Peary transport was built in 4 days 15 hours and 29 minutes (this is the time from laying to launch). =
    = But even without this, the average speed of building ships by the end of 1942 was brought to 42 days, =
    = The ship was laid down on March 15, 1943, and on June 15 of the same year, the ship was launched. =
    Вот попробуй и пойми, за сколько дней строились корабли типа "Либерти".
    In over 4 days, in 42 days, or in 90 days?
    1. iRoccka
      iRoccka 14 August 2020 23: 09 New
      0
      вам ничего не говорит фраза "средняя скорость постройки" ?
      according to information from article 18 shipyards built ships of this type, somewhere they built quickly, somewhere slowly, and the average construction speed is 42 days
      1. Krasnoyarsk
        Krasnoyarsk 15 August 2020 07: 50 New
        0
        Quote: iRoccka
        вам ничего не говорит фраза "средняя скорость постройки"

        Do you believe that a ship of this displacement can be built in 4,5 days?
    2. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 15 August 2020 18: 13 New
      +2
      Quote: Krasnoyarsk
      Вот попробуй и пойми, за сколько дней строились корабли типа "Либерти".
      In over 4 days, in 42 days, or in 90 days?

      All three terms are correct, depending on what counts as a building. smile
      If we take the assembly time on the slipway (from ready-made blocks) from the moment the structures are exposed to launching, then it will be a little over four days.
      If you take average construction time from the beginning of steel procurement and manufacturing of blocks to delivery to the customer is 42 days.
      And if we take specific vessels, then there is a large spread from the average. So 90 days is fine.

      Конкретно по SS Robert Peary - это был результат капиталистического соревнования между верфями Кайзера. До этого Орегонская верфь спустила на воду "Либерти" за 10 дней. Когда Кайзера спросили - а можно ли быстрее, тот пообещал лично ФДР уложиться в половину срока. И верфь в Ричмoнде собрала корабль из 250-тонных готовых блоков за 4 дня 15 часов и 29 минут. Всего же от закладки киля до сдачи заказчику прошло 7 дней, 14 часов и 32 минуты.
      При этом средний срок постройки "Либерти" на верфи в Ричмoнде составлял 50 дней. Скорость постройки ограничивали нехватка стали и мощностей для сборки блоков.
      Тем не менее, SS Robert Peary стал отличным примером реальной оптимизации производственного процесса - разгрузки узких мест производства (для ССЗ - это стапели, которых просто нельзя построить много) путём переноса операций с них на другие, менее загруженные участки. Зачем строить корпус и набивать его механизмами и системами на стапеле, занимая его на долгое время? Можно заранее подготовить в мастерских готовые блоки "с полным фаршем" и задействовать стапель только для их соединения друг с другом.
      1. Krasnoyarsk
        Krasnoyarsk 15 August 2020 20: 11 New
        0
        Quote: Alexey RA

        All three terms are correct, depending on what counts as a building.

        Of course, from steel cutting to delivery to the customer.
        Otherwise it is from the evil one.
        1. VicktorVR
          VicktorVR 17 August 2020 15: 21 New
          0
          Well, after all, no one counts the construction time of the house from the moment the first brick was made, kg of cement for the panels ...
          1. Krasnoyarsk
            Krasnoyarsk 17 August 2020 20: 39 New
            0
            Quote: VicktorVR
            Well, after all, no one counts the construction time of the house from the moment the first brick was made, kg of cement for the panels ...

            Of course not. The countdown starts from the beginning of digging a foundation pit.
  10. 2 Level Advisor
    2 Level Advisor 15 August 2020 06: 24 New
    0
    There is such a legacy of the war, there are many places .. In Feodosia, Jean-Jaures transport has been lying near the coast with ammunition since 1942 .. I just strongly doubt that they can bang in 78 years .. although in the 80s I still remember the conversations that need to be pulled out, but if it bangs, half the city will be blown away ..

    "В 1978 году рассматривалась возможность поднятия судна. После изучения материалов Керченско-Феодосийской десантной операции и исследования самого объекта водолазами, было принято решение не поднимать «Жан Жорес». В формулировке решения прямо не было сказано о наличии боезапаса, но и не отвергалось его наличие. Как сообщил начальник ОСВОД Феодосии Александр Черноволов «…не подымать из-за возможной детонации возможных боеприпасов…»."

    2019 год. Большую часть подняли недавно. "Сотрудники крымского и севастопольского Главных управлений МЧС России подняли с поверхности затопленного грузового теплохода "Жан Жорес" в акватории Феодосийского залива более 6,5 тысячи боеприпасов."

    I think only now, because the danger has already passed ..
  11. pleschakovai
    pleschakovai 15 August 2020 15: 56 New
    0
    Well, the terrorists were invited !!! Well done, however !!! Why have you not cleared the fairway in time, for so many decades, gentlemen, capitalists from intoxicating albion ???
  12. Kapkan
    Kapkan 18 August 2020 11: 58 New
    +1
    Petrov? Boshirov? And you know, comrades, that there are amazing spiers at the mouth of a certain river ...
  13. Charik
    Charik 18 August 2020 13: 30 New
    -1
    it would be necessary to warm up the boat from space from the satellite
  14. Maks1995
    Maks1995 21 August 2020 08: 51 New
    0
    IMHO, all this contradicts even the school physics course.
    Therefore, the Angles can sleep peacefully.
  15. kamakama
    kamakama Yesterday, 23: 28 New
    0
    Это место известно как мели Гудвина. Можейко описал их как кладбище кораблей Северной Европы, одно из самых опасных мест для судоходства в мире, наряду с ревущими сороковыми и Сейблом. Там на дне лежат еще галеры Цезаря. Что там лежит еще - никто не знает. Ничего, песочек затянет, рано или поздно