HC Deb 24 November 1965 vol 721 cc489-90
10. Mr. Boston

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the report of the working party which has been inquiring into the wreck of the ss." Richard Montgomery "lying off Sheerness.

Mr. Mayhew

On 18th March I told my hon. Friend that the working party had recommended an up-to-date diving survey.

The divers found that the two halves of the wreck had sunk bodily in the mud. They also found that heavy silting in the holds had probably engulfed the remainder of the cargo.

This reinforces the working party's conclusion that the best and safest course is to leave the wreck alone.

Mr. Boston

Will my hon. Friend accept that the trouble he has taken on this is warmly appreciated? Does he realise that there is concern because the wreck is regarded as a hazard to shipping and also because some explosive experts have said that the corrosive effect of sea water may mean that the 3,000 tons of high explosives still said to be on board may be becoming more dangerous?

Mr. Mayhew

I would not accept that view. It is the considered view of our experts that the risk of an explosion is slowly getting less. As for the problem of the wreck being a menace to shipping, it is, of course, marked with two buoys, an automatic fog signal and is on the charts. I think that that is the best we can do.