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?
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 …
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'.
> '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.
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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).
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.
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.
I know I'd heard of an ship carrying ordinance going bang in Canada. A little searching turned up this.
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
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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"?
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
'At the very least, military joggers should be turning off their devices and changing their routes and times with immediate effect.'
Why? The routes are undoubtedly following paths that are all on Ordnance Survey Maps and the time of day isn't readily available from the Strava map. Sharing your Strava profile with people you don't know is risky but that is hammered home in annual security briefs.
Using them in an active theatre is a different matter entirely.
If I go onto certain sites, I have to hand over anything with a battery, transmitter, source of ignition before entering.
That might be because of ignitable gases in the air rather than actual explosives. (And it's why in theory you're not supposed to have mobile phones at petrol stations. For this purpose they count as "hazardous areas".)
It's showing people sailing past it. It's clearly marked with 8 yellow buoys and two of the Montgomery's masts sticking out of the water. The Montgomery's a favourite place for people to do a day trip from Chatham, Gillingham, Rochester etc. as a little trip out into the Thames Estuary.
The people to the south of the Montgomery, on The Isle of Sheppy, are either the webbed-feet locals or people sailing dinghies/jetskis.
Sailed past this wreck many times over the past decade. Never seen anyone go closer than 50m from the buoys and cardinal markers that clearly show the site. I doubt that anyone with a fitness tracker has actually been "ON THE WRECK". That's just the article headline writer getting overexcited.
Some parts of that are on Pembrokeshire coastal path and are accessible to the public....
However, that section of the path is no access allowed at certain times (posted in advance, when live firing may occur) - this avoids walkers being at risk.
Anyone who has completed the Pembs coast path will be aware of need to check CastleMartin access dates.
So, certainly no surprise that some parts of CastleMartin show strava use
So, certainly no surprise that some parts of CastleMartin show strava use
Exactly this. Most of Salisbury Plain is also open to the public at various times. A friend learnt to drive on the roads there at weekends, and another (an OTC Member on exercise) had a pizza delivered to a 6-figure grid reference by a local pizza shop who I suspect make quite regular trips to bored squaddies who don't fancy their ration packs that evening.
Equally however, there are times when you do not pass the closed gates and red flags if you have any regard for your immediate welfare.
Upvoted, and thank you.
The "open to the public part time" was my immediate thought too, but stravas and other such didn't exist when I was last in that part of Pembrokeshire. Not sure GPS existed either. How did we survive.
Wouldn't it be nice if "journos" actually had a clue what they're writing about before they put pen to keyboard. I know it might limit the opportunities for informative comments like these, but hey.
Fwiw, the 2nd hit from typing "when is castlemartin open to the public" into a famous search engine returns a web page which contains the published and up to date info on "when castlemartin is open to the public". Just like magic.
Artificial intelligence? Even better than the real thing, baby.
"Nice little summary"
That link includes one expert saying “Unless you’ve got intimate contact between two munitions subsurface, you’ll rarely cause the other to detonate, because water is a very good mitigator. If you’ve got a 1,000lb bomb two metres from another 1,000lb bomb, the other one won’t go bang. I know that for a fact – I did it last Tuesday.”
Somehow, I don't see a cargo ship sailing across the Atlantic in the middle of the war having the spare carrying capacity to have been loaded with a couple of metres separation between items of cargo.
I wonder how many of these bombs have remained watertight over the last 73 years.
Sailed past this a few times. There was a rumour doing the rounds that she was carry an a-bomb for us to drop on hitler, hence they don't want the ship to explode.
It was also said that the explosion would be large enough to cause issue with Canvey island which has a few refineries on it.
Unlikely there is any truth in any of them, but this ship has been there for awhile so has had plenty of time to build up some urban legends.
I seem to remember a report that said the resultant blast would have the capability to wipe out most of Sheerness, and send a tidal wave up the Thames Estuary and across to Southend. You can weigh up the pros and cons of this.
The Olau line ferries used to pass pretty close to it when they sailed out of Sheerness.
Another fun fact - Boris Johnson's idea of building an airport in the estuary would have involved getting rid of the Montgomery. I can just imagine him in goggles, snorkel, flippers, and a rubber ring wading into the water saying "Be back soon chaps"
The fire & security team at one place I worked at kept everything on a Desktop PC rather on the network.
While replacing (& nosing around - Because well bored fire-fighters at night ;) ) the machine & urging (Unsuccessfully) them to get a network share so this information wouldn't get lost.
I read a report detailing how sand (Dredged up from a sandbank) was being shipped in on the back of lorries as part of building works at the plant & as one was being tipped, somebody who was actively paying attention spotted the tail fins of a UXB.
Is there any reason it can't just be blown up *?
Who'd take the risk? If the bang were big enough to cause property damage on shore, the bill could be quite large. A more pressing concern is that if blown up, the chances of 100% detonation of all bombs is vanishingly small, and you'd have scattered still dangerous ordnance even further afield. The cluster bombs in particular, because of their small size would then go on journeys of their own from tide and waves, meaning that you'd made the problem substantially worse, with bombs being washed up all over the place, as well as lying underwater in what are currently regarded as safely navigable channels.
Given the capabilities of today's salvage technology (in particular robotic and remotely controlled vehicles), it would be conceptually straightforward to dismantle and retrieve the wreck and 100% of the cargo. Or rather than "wet" salvage, the shallow water would allow the building of a caisson round the wreck, pump it out and dismantle it "dry", although probably still using remote vehicles. But either way it would be complex and slow, making it vastly expensive - as an order of magnitude figure, I'd suggest we'd be talking between £500m-£1bn. That's why its been left, along with the fact that nobody really cares enough about it to even consider doing anything about it.
If the wreck had been stopping a major port development, and the related on shore property developments (say a total investment of around £3-5bn, and claimed annual "value" of £2.5bn a year using the DP World London Gateway as example costs/benefits), then the money and capability to shift it would have been found without any problem.
It's a pain in the butt on lots of levels.
They'd have removed it years ago if they could (there are dozens of wrecks round there, all of which are cleared or swept to a depth).
It would probably be a fairly 'easy' and relatively cheap recovery under normal circumstances as it is in shallow water and easily accessible.
The only issue is a shit load of bangers that no one can guarantee 100% they won't go off.
As has been mentioned above, who is volunteering to take the risk? It could be very messy, more so at low tide than high.
Have a number of pro fishing acquaintences who regularly pull munitions out of the sea in the area. Including some that fizz nicely... (don't panic son... you won't know a thing about it)
Bomb disposal hold regular blow ups accordingy.
Dealing with a few here & there is one thing. But this is on a totally different level. I'd imagine the risk of detonation is inversely proportional to the amount of damage caused.
I'm the one standing at the back of the queue :-)
Every couple of years, the Government reassess the situation and so far the experts say leave it alone again.
Expert: We could try to remove the munitions, but that has a serious risk of setting it off.
Minister: And if we leave it alone?
Expert: It could go off anyway, but there's far less chance of that.
Minister: So we could do something with a small chance of success, and if it works we'd probably not gain much in public approval. Or we could do something with a small chance of success and it all goes horribly wrong, then we lose the next few elections. Or we could ignore it and hope nothing happens until the other lot are in power. It's a no-brainer.
Bonus video: Tom Scott's summary of the situation.
It would make a fantastic firework display.
I'll be it wouldn't (and I'll stake my half empty glass upon it). However, with no relatives in the area, and the fact that the whole areas is a bit shitty, I think we should test the matter.
If it goes kaaaBOOOOOOMMMMMMM and destroys a local town or too, whilst we watch from a safe distance going "Aaaaaaaah" and "Ooooooooh", then you'll be right, and I'll be eating humble pie. If it is a damp squib, with no worthwhile bang or damage, then I get to say "told yer so".
I wonder how easy it would be to submit fake GPS data to the servers ?
After all, with all the furore about Googles GPS-slurping, it would be naive to assume that somebody wasn't doing it.
I know I am. I keep getting asked to review my time at the Whitehouse (which Google seems to believe I can visit seconds after being in Downing St.).
The more fake location reports sent to the likes of Google the better IMHO
The more we can screw up with their data collecting aka Slurping of our private lives the less accuarte the Google data has on each and everyone of us.
That is a win-win as far as I'm concerned.
Then there is the data that this app is sending to everyone and their dog... People are either stupid or don't even care that others can follow your every movement from their desks in Washington, Moscow, Tel Aviv or Cheltenham without lifting a finger or having just cause.
Fake data to strava is relatively simple I believe. Cyclists have been accused of fiddling with data from their rides to appear faster than they were. These are just text files and would be fairly easy to parse and modify.
GPS accuracy also is really not ALWAYS that great so I would not be at all surprised if it was sometime +/- 50m if the GPS device only has a poor lock on satellites - for example if worn on a wrist while running or sailing!
'GPS accuracy also is really not ALWAYS that great so I would not be at all surprised if it was sometime +/- 50m if the GPS device only has a poor lock on satellites - for example if worn on a wrist while running or sailing!'
My personal best on Strava occurred when my phone spent 20 minutes trying to get a decent fix. It thought I was zig-zagging all over the place rather than following the road. Eventually I deleted the 3 sub 5 minute miles...
Fake data to strava is relatively simple I believe.
Yep, there's an API and also it lets you upload gpx tracks (which are just XML files containing latitude, longitude, height and the time in UTC). Pretty much any reader of this Esteemed Organ would be able to knock something up in no time.
You could even could even claim you ran from London to Paris in 2 hours... ->
I looked at my area on the global map, there is a heat trail going through my house (and my neighbours) that only a trespassing ghost could have made (no doors or windows anywhere near and thick hedges). There are also some trails in the area that look much more like hobby drone flights than fitness tracks (repeated 'one turn of a spiral' tracks in a big field).
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It looks more and more people have been brainwashed into thinking that data slurping and their publication is good, and it's the user fault if they didn't hinder the app doing that explicitly... another example where the should victim feel guilty when abused... "privacy is theft".
You've given me a great idea! The RN could PAINT aircraft on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Admittedly they won't be able to take off, and they'll look pants from anything under 5,000 feet, but above that, it will look just like a proper aircraft carrier.
Of course, if Crapita get the contract to paint, it'll work out more expensive than buying real aircraft, and they'll paint the wrong type of aircraft as well.
I'll go with the experts here.
There is only a modest chance that any of the explosives are intact and viable. There is a only a slim chance that any of the detonators are viable.
Seawater immersion is a tough environment. It's difficult to intentionally design something that will last a few years in the environment. And this is wartime ordinance delivered on Liberty ships, which is built with the standard "if it even gets there, it will sit around for a few days before being used ...once". External drop tanks for fighters were made of paper and couldn't be filled with fuel more than a few minutes before departure because they would fall apart before they were emptied. Many types of shells had switched from bass casings to raw steel, with only a grease, oil or cosmoline spray. Aerial bombs and their fuses were built with similar standards.
Sorry, but heavy bombs have shells that must be able to penetrate concrete or hardened steel before detonating. They aren't built with thin, brittle metals - sure, used once, but they need to be effective, not going in pieces on the target surface before exploding.
Seawater may take many, many years to completely corrode a thick piece of steel (and some encrustations may even protect it). The question is how watertight they are, and if TNT as been neutralized or not. Just, you'd need to inspect each bomb to check it...
"Sorry, but heavy bombs have shells that must be able to penetrate concrete or hardened steel before detonating."
Not so fast. Heavy bombs can be heavy because they're designed around a strong armour-piercing casing with relatively little explosive filling , but they can *also* be heavy because they're designed around a thin-wall casing to maximise the amount of explosive within and thus blast effect once dropped...
e.g. Tallboy, 12,000lb total mass, approx. 5000lb explosive content
Cookie, 12,000lb total mass (in its largest variant), approx. 9000lb explosive content
Two bombs with the same overall mass, but designed for two very different types of mission.
"Two bombs with the same overall mass, but designed for two very different types of mission."
And both probably capable of blowing the bloody Doors off, from a great distance.
Maybe they could get rid of bloody Windows too.
I'd get my coat, except it's blown off already.
Here in the East of Dundee we live within both walking and running distance of Barry Budden firing ranges. When the flags are not flying and the watch boxes aren't manned you are perfectly free to wander about.
There's a cycle path now between the rail line and the base (there are golf courses on the other side of the line so obviously the path couldn't got there. I have run along it whilst the sound of quite furious automatic fire came from the ranges to my right. I was not concerned as having wandered around and seen the high earth berms behind each range and none of the ranges face inland.
The people in the train passing at the time and the golfers on the range were not in danger either. When the wind is from the East we can hear them firing from here. Whilst coming back along the top road on long Sunday morning runs the soft crump of mortars is a common accompanying sound effect. We've got quite good at picking different sorts of arms.
We joke that if an army ever invaded Dundee from the East nobody would notice.
Marker buoys. If you are navigating shallow waters in a yacht at least you have tide charts and you look out for markers just as a car looks out for road signs. This navigation stuff is covered by qualifications like RYA day and offshore skipper, which you need to rent a yacht, but not to own one. Yachts also care more about draft than other boats of similar size as they have keels (where keel means a fin over a metre long sticking straight down, not a strip along the bottom of the boat), getting stuck on a sandbank that motorboats can happily go over is not unheard of.
I just had a look at my local area and noticed two things:
1. I can find the entrance and exits to the track so I know where the owners live.
2. Either they generate a lot of spurious location data or some smart arse has strapped one to his cat - I see a track that runs across the roof of two houses, through the gardens of another three to the reserve bordering the main road...
"have you never wanted to know where the cat goes when it leaves the house? I'd like to know, enough to consider buying such a gadget just to uncover the secret life of my cat..."
BBC TV, June 2013: Horizon: Secret life of the cat: the science of tracking our pets.
Highlights on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b02xcvhw
Modern versions of the tracking kit, with or without cameras, readily available from all the finest online tat shops.
"Why, have you never wanted to know where the cat goes when it leaves the house?"
The Girl Friend calls it Secret Cat Business. I have seen some of the things cats do and they can remain secret, thank you very much. Washing in your own spit is bad enough.
When I worked for a large electrical engineering company, we were installing some contactors at a research installation in Hampshire. The foreman told us to "be very careful because there [was] a reactor on the other end of that cable". To us, as electrical engineers, a reactor was simply a large coil of copper wire with either an iron or an air core, which induces a lag in the phase rotation. No, this reactor was a Nuclear Reactor! One false electrical impulse and it would have been Goodbye Basingstoke.
are there any potential problems?
1) It doesn't go bang, Sheerness and Southend remain unimproved
2) All the munitions are viable, and there's a kiloton bang. Bad for anybody observing from a distance, as previous kiloton ship explosions have thrown big chunks like gun turrets and propellors up to five miles.
A few years ago, my employer was considering issuing smartphones (iPhones anyway) to people who actually do stuff. You know, they wear overalls and carry toolkits, spades, paintbrushes etc. I tried out one such device. I walked about half a mile through a building and then another half mile outdoors.
The tracking device Felt that, in my leisurely 10 minutes, I had been from southern England to the middle of the Bay of Biscay, back to the "Midlands", then to 0°N 0°E (somewhere south of Nigeria) and back to where I genuinely finished. They are not very accurate indoors! Do these secret bases not have a bit of shielding. If I was in the US military in Afghanistan, or the Russian one in Syria, I would be very keen that my facilities were proof against incoming mortars and snipers in the hills and trees outside.
If you are running round the perimeter track though, then you will draw a very neat line right round your base.
The munitions are believed to be largely artillery shells.
Quite a bit was offloaded before the ship 'sank' (went from merely grounded to broken, probably splitting in half as Liberty ships tended to do), but the records aren't good enough to be certain how much. Presumably all of the easily reached cargo was salvaged.
The shells probably have (had) wartime thin steel casings, rather than brass. The projectile/shell has thicker steel/iron construction, but they aren't generally shipped with the fuse installed. It's really likely that seawater has degraded the propellant and explosives to the point where it's not viable.
But not completely certain. So I'm not volunteering to dredge the site. Let's just leave the bouys out and wait another few decades until it's Someone Else's Problem.
Fisherman, Not Treasure Hunters ! Long line fisherman always fish near known shipwrecks because it's where fish congregate. On an otherwise barren and desolate sea floor, shipwrecks provide a hiding place for fish, therefore they attract larger fish species.. on and on... up the food chain.
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