The SS Richard Montgomery was a US Liberty Ship, constructed in 1943. In 1944 it was part of a convoy delivering explosives with 7,000 tonnes on this ship along. Whilst heading to Sheerness on August 12th 1944, the ships anchor was caught in the sandbanks off the Kent coast, causing the vessel to become grounded. A salvage mission to unload the cargo onboard lasted over a month before the ship became fully submerged, where it has remained with 1,400 tonnes of explosives for almost 80 years.
The Montgomery is the only shipwreck in English waters to be protected by law due to it being so dangerous. The Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 lists this wreck as well as the MV Braer (near Sheltland) as being so dangerous that it needs an exclusion zone. Several buoys around the wreck protect a 500m radius preventing any ships or people getting close to it and if that isn’t enough, long range CCTV and radar is also in place to protect it.
In May 2020 the Ministry of Defence were looking for companies to apply to remove the masts over safety fears that they could break and trigger an explosion. In December 2021 it was announced that the Royal Navy had been chosen to remove the masts from the wreck as this would be safer than removing the explosives – work is expected to start in June 2022.
Sources: Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Kent Online.