SS Richard Montgomery Areas With Asbestos Exposure

SS Richard Montgomery

Built by the St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company of Florida between March and August 1943, the SS Richard Montgomery was to only see one year of active service, ending up aground in the Thames Estuary with several tons of munitions on board. During the salvage operations that followed, the ship’s hull broke in two and a number of its bays got flooded, forcing the Rochester-based stevedore company hired for the job to leave part of the cargo on board, where it still sits today. Because of this, the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery is considered dangerous and clearly marked as such on maritime maps, while also monitored both visually and by radar. Besides the 1,400 tons of explosives, the ship also carries a less obvious hazard – the liberal quantities of asbestos used in its construction. On a 14,245-ton Liberty ship of the period, this could have been found virtually everywhere, used to insulate the piping and wiring that went throughout the ship, all electrical equipment, engine components and even kitchen appliances.

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Shipmates on SS Richard Montgomery