Published: 17:03, 10 August 2020
| Updated: 18:43, 10 August 2020
An explosion on board Sheppey bomb ship the Richard Montgomery could be greater than the horror blast which demolished Beirut docks, it is claimed.
Veteran wreck-watcher Tim Bell, 75, from Scrapsgate Road, Minster, said: "The wreck has half as much again of explosive potential power of the dreadful explosion in Lebanon.
"There are 3,632 tons of ordnance still on the wreck which amounts to about 1,400 tons of TNT. Ammonium nitrate is only about 40% as effective as TNT. Therefore, 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which was the amount which exploded in Beirut, was equivalent to about 1,000 tons of TNT."
Mr Bell added: "It also makes me worried about the liquefied natural gas storage tanks on the Isle of Grain and the LNG ships which sail past Sheerness to reach the terminal.
"These ships travel with very little clearance under their keel at times of low water. If a gas ship collided with one of Richard Montgomery's thousands of bombs scattered on the seabed I hate to think what might happen."
Tony Ennis, director of Haztech Consultants, has been reported as saying that ammonium nitrate has an "explosion efficiency of approximately 40% that of TNT."
The fully loaded Second World War American liberty ship SS Richard Montgomery sank on August 20, 1944, off Sheerness after dragging its anchor and running aground on a sand bank where it broke its back. Many of its munitions are still on board.
The government has admitted it is exploring new ways to ensure the wreck remains safe.
And the Ministry of Defence is offering to pay £5 million 'danger money' to any company prepared to hack off the rusting masts of the 'bomb ship.'