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This shipwreck could send a tsunami crashing into London | UK News

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This shipwreck could send a tsunami crashing into London | UK News

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The SS Richard Montgomery wreck in the Thames Estuary, Kent, could explode and cause a deadly tsunami (Picture: Getty Images)

A shipwreck full of explosives in the Thames Estuary could cause a devastating tsunami, say experts.

The Kent and Essex shorelines and even London could bit hit with enormous wave if World War II ship the SS Richard Montgomery exploded.

The vessel has lain on the bottom of the estuary, less than a mile from the small town of Sheerness, since 1944, after being wrecked on the Nore sandbank,

Its three masts are visible above the waterline, making it a popular tourist attraction.

But the wreck contains 1,400 tonnes of explosives and with the structure now severely corroded there are fears the masts could collapse on the bombs, triggering a massive explosion.

Medway Council has previously called the ship a ‘Doomsday wreck’.

A parliamentary report from the council suggested a blast ‘would hurl a 1,000ft wide column of water, mud, metal and munitions almost 10,000ft into the air – risking wildlife and the lives of many people’.

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Researchers at Defence Research and Development Canada told New Scientist in 2022, meanwhile, that the Montgomery has the potential to be ‘one of the world’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, causing widespread destruction and death.’

The Department for Transport (DfT) have drawn up plans to trim the mast to reduce the risk of them triggering an explosion, with specialists surveying the ships since 2022.

However, works were delayed after a company offered the contract to carry them out found artillery on the seabed, which it removed last summer, reports The Express.

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A map showing location of the Montgomery wreckage and surrounding areas that could be impacted in the event of an explosion (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

It has since identified another 18 ‘objects’ on the sea bed.

In 2022, Professor David Alexander, from University College London, an expert in risk and disaster reduction who has studied the SS Richard Montgomery in detail, told the BBC it’s time authorities removed the explosives.

He acknowledged, however, the work would not be cheap, and ‘there’s only one company in the world that could do that’ and would ‘probably need robots’.

A Navy Frogman Is Pictured Near The Shipwreck in 1981 (Picture: James Gray/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock)
SS Richard Montgomery at sea before it sank

He added: ‘I think over the last 77 years the government has thought to itself ‘well, the longer we leave it, the safer it gets’.

‘It appears if you talk to experts in explosives, that is the opposite of the truth.’

The Montgomery sailed to the UK from America in the summer of 1944, but when it arrived at the Thames Estuary a force 8 gale caused the ship’s anchor to drag it into a sandbank.

Then, thanks to a flaw in the ship’s design, the hull snapped in two and the vessel sunk to the bottom of the river.

How the broken up wreck looks underwater

Specialist teams managed to remove more than 5,000 tonnes of munitions which were stored onboard the ship.

But plans to remove the rest were halted once the ship became flooded, leaving around 1,400 tonnes still onboard.

There are three types of bombs still thought to be on the boat: unfused TNT bombs, about 800 fused cluster bombs and a large number of smoke bombs.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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