back to article Thar she blows: Strava heat map shows folk on shipwreck packed with 1,500 tonnes of bombs

People wearing Strava-enabled fitness trackers appear to have been poking around a Thames shipwreck containing nearly 1,500 tonnes of explosives from the Second World War. In addition, other fitness fanatics appear to have been wandering around military training sites – including danger areas used for live-fire tank and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely.....

    Soliders and other military types, on duty, whether on training exercises, or in active zones are banned from waerning such devices? Please don't tell me they also take their personnal mobile phones along with them for the ride too?

  2. RyokuMas Silver badge

    Re: Surely.....

    Never underestimate the ability of a human being to be irretrievably stupid.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Surely.....

    Yep, they sure do. Article in the local press about it today.

    Pete

  4. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Re: Surely.....

    Please don't tell me they also take their personnal mobile phones along with them for the ride too?

    Cast your mind back to the Iraq war and you may recall that soldiers' personal mobiles were the primary form of communication between many units because the newly supplied radio gear was so naff. The partial Bowman system first issued to infantry squads was quickly nicknamed 'Better Off With Map And Nokia'.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: Surely.....

    "irretrievably stupid."

    For anyone stepping on a large piece of ordnance irretrievable would be no more than the truth.

  6. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Re: Surely.....

    'Better Off With Map And Nokia'.

    At least back then you could go more than 1/2 a day before the battery ran out!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Surely.....

    Bu their wereable will record an incredible achievement in high and long jump.... at high speed! Friends will be instantaneously envious!

  8. phuzz Silver badge

    Re: Surely.....

    "Surely soldiers [...] are banned from wearing such devices?"

    Not in the slightest, actually they've been encouraged to wear them.

    I suspect that most military's policies regarding fitness trackers will be getting updated in the next few days.

  9. Michael Thibault Bronze badge

    Re: Surely.....

    "Never underestimate the ability of a human being to be irretrievably stupid."

    So what you're saying is "200 feet into the air" and "over a large area" is good enough?

  10. Michael Thibault Bronze badge

    Re: Surely.....

    "instantaneously envious"

    Pix or it didn't happen!

  11. Adam 1 Silver badge

    Re: Surely.....

    > 'Better Off With Map And Nokia'.

    > At least back then you could go more than 1/2 a day before the battery ran out!

    And if it did run out, you could unclip the back and put your spare battery in. You didn't even need some weirdly shaped screwdriver and plastic lever and half a dozen highly carcinogenic chemicals on hand to unglue the old one.

  12. Stu Mac

    Re: Surely.....

    Still can. Moto E4+

    A soldiers friend.

  13. SquidEmperor

    Re: Surely.....

    LG V20

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you fancy trying to remove unstable highly explosive material from a tidal river, feel free.

  16. Stuart Castle

    I suspect it's not so much "Out of sight, out of mind", more that it's 1,500 tonnes of potentially unstable explosive that is sited near one of the most densely populated parts of the UK. There is also fact it it sitting on some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, and that if it should detonate, it's likely to restrict access to Tilbury Docks (one of the 3 main container ports for the UK).

  17. Mine's a pint

    There's the MV Captayannis sunk in 1974 off Greenock.

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/MV+Captayannis/@55.9756092,-4.7438802,624m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x4889ae610ab4c12b:0x7a98169c821b5a5f!8m2!3d55.9756062!4d-4.7416862

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You forgot to mention

    the gas terminal

    even a relatively small detonation, flinging relatively few viable explosives would be enough to create some fireworks. It would also not be entirely clear how long you had to wait before you consider that any more would not be dislodged after being destabilised by the initial ignition.

    Only needs one ship with engine failure to bash it, or a sudden, significant structural failure (not unlikely either), or someone, gosh, attempting to do it deliberately.

    There are a few tonnes of WW1 explosives kept nicely out of sight underground too, that were never removed or exploded (look it up) but they are not near said, shipping lanes, gas terminals, docks etc.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That ordinance will eventually rust and decay. Better to deal with in manner that can be controlled, than leave it to chance (Even if the likelihood is small).

  20. Mark 110 Silver badge

    Re: You forgot to mention

    So I heard on the radio the other day (comedy show, unreliable) that the reason we can't have a tunnel between Scotland and NI is that we have dumped so muchh dodgy ordinance (including chemical weapons) into the Irish Sea that its not safe.

    Is that true?

  21. bed

    Re: You forgot to mention

    Yeah, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort%27s_Dyke

  22. macjules Silver badge

    1,500 tonnes of potentially unstable explosive that is sited near one of the most densely populated parts of the UK

    Surely Southend On Sea isn't that populated? Or are you referring to the IQ levels of Essex?

  23. grod

    Re: You forgot to mention

    > So I heard on the radio the other day (comedy show, unreliable)

    I find The News Quiz as reliable, if not more so, than many other more traditional news outlets.

  24. werdsmith Silver badge

    1500 tonnes is not on the scale of the 6800 tonnes of WW2 leftover ordnance that the British military used to try to blow up Heligoland in 1947.

  25. DeeCee

    but damn it would look nice, you could cover the losses with adds from youtube vids

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the blast zone

    Southend's population is around 175,000. I live a few yards from the estuary on the fringes of the predicted explosion. We would certainly lose our windows to the air blast (I think most houses in town would) and would definitely be swamped by the tidal wave. There is the possibility of further smaller explosions - gas mains, boilers etc and whether there would be the wherewithal to fight these fires. Local emergency services would struggle to cope. The power would likely be out for days. Sheeness would get it even worse.

    Then there the possibility of the oil refinery going up, what would happen to any container ships heading up and down the estuary channel to Tilbury Docks and what the long-term economic impact would be in the aftermath.

    Nobody wants to play Jenga with the wreck but irresponsible thrill-seekers who want bragging rights do go out to it. They are gambling with more lives than just their own.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >near one of the most densely populated parts of the UK

    Pah. It's only Essex and parts of East London. Think of the money to be made on rebuiding it! It's not like it hasn't been explosively decommissioned before.

  28. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Surely Southend On Sea isn't that populated?

    No - but eastern and central London is and wouldn't appreciate the mini-tidal wave that the explosion would generate.

  29. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Canadian ship borne explosions.

    I know I'd heard of an ship carrying ordinance going bang in Canada. A little searching turned up this.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Explosion

    I hear rumors the anchor was found miles away but the article doesn't specify other than "scattered fragments of Mont-Blanc for kilometres".

    In memory of those affected. PP

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Korev Silver badge

    Water movement?

    These bombs were loaded with TNT. They could be transported fused because the design included a propeller mechanism at the front which only screwed the fuse into position as the bombs fell from an aircraft.

    Would (has?) water movement from tides and currents also activate the "propellors"?

  32. wayne 8

    Re: Water movement?

    More likely the propeller needs to spin in air after being dropped from a fast bomber at a specified minimum altitude.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Water movement?

    This explains how they work

    https://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/pearl-harbor-blog/aerial-bomb-fuzes/

  34. Stuart Halliday

    Re: Water movement?

    Or a big fish...?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Water movement?

    I guess they bombs were in boxes to avoid the propeller being free to turn. But if they were wood-made, they will have decayed. Yet, encrustations may block the propeller. But you can't be sure about what happened and in what state they are without actually looking at them closely... and while TNT is quite stable until forcibly activated, other things may not.

  36. flashgit

    Re: Water movement?

    The main body of the wreck is contained within Thames Estuary silt (mud) that protects it to a certain extent. Remember that the wreck has been subject to 4 tidal flow per day since it sank, so it is now tried and tested :-)

  37. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Re: Water movement?

    I guess they bombs were in boxes to avoid the propeller being free to turn. But if they were wood-made, they will have decayed.

    Possibly not as decayed as you might expect. I think that so long as the wood is constantly submerged it actually fares quite well - it's when it keeps getting wet then exposed to air that the rot really sets in

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Water movement?

    and while TNT is quite stable until forcibly activated

    as are a number of explosives. I remember plasticque being burned on a far (before the main event/demo) :-)

  39. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Re: Water movement?

    A small amount of plastique is ideal for brewing a cuppa in adverse weather conditions.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Possibly not as decayed as you might expect."

    In shallow water, if not buried in the mud with little oxygen, a lot of organisms will actively demolish wood.

  41. John Crisp

    Re: Water movement?

    Not quite. I think it sits on some lumpy bits, and the tide sluicing round has a habit of moving sand and mud. On top of that, time and corrosion are doing their thing so the wreck is slowly falling to bits.

    Government reports here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-ss-richard-montgomery-information-and-survey-reports

  42. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: Water movement?

    Well, most of those fuses have a safety pin that has to be pulled (or rusted away) which leads to the fuses themselves having rusted cases and parts so probable that the activating mechanism is rusted into place or has pretty much disintegrated since I doubt they used non-ferrous metals or stainless steel.

  43. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Re: Water movement?

    don't try this at home, children.

  44. Spanners Silver badge
    Pint

    Re: Water movement?

    I saw it burn through the bottom of a mess tin. This was part of training so it may have been faked.

  45. GX5000
    Pint

    Re: Water movement?

    A Cuppa?!

    Oh god that explains the Tide Pod eaters!

    I'm not brewing no plastique!

    I ain't eating no DM12 or C4!

    These people probably use DetCaps to pick their teeth!

  46. Paul Woodhouse
    Trollface

    maybe they need more warning signs

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah -

    "Hey Russia why worry about undersea cables when one small bomb will take out 1/3 of the UK's port capacity"

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hello comrade, how do you know my plan.

  49. Jtom Bronze badge

    That could be a suicide mission. Thankfully, there are no radical groups who do such things. (sarc)

  50. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Mushroom

    explosive ordnance disposal personnel

    Surely their training included removal from their person of anything which has even the slightest and remotest possibility of setting off an explosive? If I go onto certain sites, I have to hand over anything with a battery, transmitter, source of ignition before entering. I'm reasonably confident that bomb disposal peeps are even more aware and strict with this procedure.

    I have no doubt orders are flying all over the world now with regard to any devices personal may have to STOP USING THEM NOW!!! while command figures out what to do about it. At the very least, military joggers should be turning off their devices and changing their routes and times with immediate effect.

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