U.S.S. Richard Montgomery.
One of 2710 ships built under the lend lease act for Britain by the USA during World War II. These ships were primary built to assist with the supply of food & war material supplies to Britain during the Second World war. The ships were to become known as Liberty Ships because of their role of supplying a blockaded Britain. Although Liberty ships were built by different shipyards in America the general specifications of the type of the Liberty ship that the Richard Montgomery was built to is as follows;
Dimensions of Ship:
Length : 134.5 meters.
Width : 17.3 meters.
Height : 24.9 meters.
Draft : 8.5 meters.
Weight : 7176 Tons.
Propulsion Unit : 3 cylinder, Fuel oil powered, 2,500 Horsepower unit.
Maximum Speed : 11 Knots.
Total Crew : 81.
The Richard Montgomery was launched in July 1943. Built by the St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company located at Jacksonville, Florida. In August 1944 the Richard Montgomery sailed from Hog Island, Philadelphia, America, the ship was carrying a cargo of some 6,000 tons of assorted munitions loaded in the ship’s 5 cargo holds.
Once the ship arrived in the Thames it was instructed by the Naval control point located on the end of Southend pier to anchor just off of the Sheerness middle sands just off Sheerness Island. To await for the rest of the ships to join the convoy that was bound for Cherbourg, France. The water level over these particular sands varies considerably due to the tidal system in the Thames. On the day concerned the maximum depth of the sands at low tide was some 7.3 meters the Richard Montgomery’s draft with cargo onboard was 9.4 meters! This was not a problem as the ship was anchored just off the sands. Then on the 20th of August due to the action of the wind on the ship it drifted over the sands once the tide had reached low water the vessel ran aground. The problem now was that the tides over the next 2 weeks were receding giving insufficient depth of water at high tide to refloat the ship.
It was decided to remove the cargo from the holds in order to try & refloat the ship as soon as possible. Before this could be put into practice the stress of the weight of the ship resting on the sands took effect causing the hull to crack open. Still an effort was made to refloat the ship by unloading its cargo this began on the 23rd of August & continued until 25th of September 1944. By this time the ship had broken its back on the sands just forward of the number 3 cargo hold causing some of the contents to be washed into the surrounding sands. The number 1 & 2 cargo holds becoming submerged & unsalvageable. The remaining cargo of some 3,000 tons being left to this day to be destroyed by time & the action of the tides. The ship is constantly monitored by the Port of London Authority & has had detailed surveys carried out upon it over the years.
Pictured Below 1 of 2 of the remaining Liberty ships still afloat today.
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