INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT S S RICHARD MONTGOMERY
On August 20, 1944, an American cargo ship named S S Richard Montgomery carrying huge amount of explosives, meant for use in the ongoing Second World War, ran aground on a sandbank in the Thames Estuary, near the town of Sheerness, in England. A salvage operation was launched, but before the ship’s cargo could be recovered in its entirety, the ship broke in half and sank.
To this day, the wreck of SS Richard Montgomery remains in place, lying in the shallow waters of the estuary about 2.5km from Sheerness. The masts of the ship can still be seen above water. Buoys float near her carrying warning signs that state: Danger - Unexploded ammunition. Do not approach or board this wreck.
S S Richard Montgomery was a Liberty ship, a type of low-cost, cargo ship that was mass-produced in the US during World War II. A Liberty ship could carry troops as well as cargo, and could be constructed in as few as 42 days.
Named after an Irish soldier who was killed during the American Revolution, S S Richard Montgomery set sail from Hog Island, Philadelphia, loaded with more than 6,000 tonnes of munitions. She travelled from the Delaware River to the Thames Estuary, and anchored while awaiting the formation of a convoy which would then travel to France.
It was while waiting in the Thames Estuary for the convoy to arrive that S S Richard Montgomery started to drift towards the sandbank, unknown to the ship’s captain who was reportedly asleep at the time.
For reasons unknown, the ship’s chief officer on duty failed to alert the captain and the ship ran aground.
Once the tide went out, the weight of the ship’s cargo became too much for her hull to bear and the ship broke her back. She settled on the sand banks near the Isle of Sheppey, 2.5km from the coast of Sheerness.