The United Kingdom’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency has revealed images of a sunken World War II ship that contains dozens of highly explosive “Blockbuster bombs” and an estimated 2,000 cases of cluster bombs.
SS Richard Montgomery has been laying on the seabed just off the East coast of England near Sheerness, Kent since 1944. The ship gained notoriety as a “ticking time bomb” due to the 1,400 tons of undetonated explosives still in the ship’s hold. As such, surveys are regularly conducted on the ship to keep tabs on its condition.
The images were gathered using “multi-beam sonar and laser scanning” to understand the rate of deterioration of the shipwreck in the 2013 report on the sunken vessel. Despite the daunting statistics on the number of explosives on board, the Maritime & Coastline Agency has said in official reports that “the risk of a major explosion is believed to be remote.”
The ship, built in 1943 in Jacksonville, Florida, was intended to transport military supplies to the U.K. However, in 1944, it ran into a sandbank and became flooded. After failed attempts to rescue the volatile ship, it was eventually left to sink and it has remained on the sandbank for the past 71 years. The rusting masts of the ship still poke out of the water’s surface, however, the wreck is surrounded by a 500-meter (1,640-foot) exclusion zone.