When Stand Up Paddleboarder, Shane Skinner recently posted a picture to social media of him paddling over and touching the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery, he could never of imagined the whole thing would quite literally blow up in his face. Shane was exploring the waters around the Isle of Sheppey on his SUP when he paddled up to and touched the mast of the World War II cargo ship, no big deal you may think?
The reason so many people have condemned Shane’s actions is that the SS Richard Montgomery, which now lies on a sandbank in the Thames Estuary was carrying thousands of tonnes of explosives when in sank. Around 1400 tonnes of those explosives still remain within the wreck and because of the potential loss of life and severe damage that would be caused should the wreck ever explode, it is ringed with buoys and huge notices ban anyone approaching the wreck.
Shane has received plenty of condemnation for his act, but there are many who can’t see what all the fuss is about. After all Shane was only passing over the top of the wreck and planted his hand on a mast, it’s not like he was smashing his SUP into the wreck and dropping rocks down onto the corroded boat below. Could he really have triggered any sort of explosion with an inflatable paddleboard? Especially as the wreck sits alongside one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
What do you think? Was Shane acting recklessly when he paddled over the wreck of the Montgomery or do you think it was just a bit of harmless exploration? Below this article you can find an interesting archive video courtesy of Thames News from 1981 featuring Colin Baker interviewing the team of frogmen who were charged with surveying the wreck.