Five Decks, Gleaming in the Sun………..the NS Savannah!

Posted by on April 29, 2008

I was reading the Reader’s Digest from December 1960 this weekend and ran across the story on the ship the Savannah.

So, it’s a ship right? What’s so special about that?


Well, you see, the Savannah is a nuclear-powered ship, one of only a few ever brought into existence. Originally plannned and designed in the mid-fifties as part of Eisenhower’s plan to bring nuclear power into everyday use, the ship is a technological marvel. Although her life was short commerically, she DID make money running the trade routes.

One of the main problems with the ship was prices.  At the time, oil was cheap, much cheaper than the nuclear option, with limited places to refuel and special crews and training needed to do so.

Sandia National Laboratories, in their newsletter, said this:

“…There was a downside to the Savannah story, though. In commerce, the bottom line is the bottom line, and on those terms, Savannah just didn’t measure up. She required a crew of more than 100 highly trained sailors, including nuclear technologists and engineers. Comparable conventional ships required only 20 to 30 hands. The death knell for the Savannah — and for commercial nuclear shipping — came when the DoD, a major customer of US-flagged shipping, inevitably and appropriately concluded that oil-fired freighters were more cost-effective than nuclear ships. The Savannah was deactivated in 1971…”

There are some great pictures and information below that if you get a chance you should see.  I would have liked to get more photos, but at this point, I am still tracking down copyright on those.  In the meantime, enjoy learning about the ship!

Have a great day, see you tomorrow!!


Items From the Savannah

Wikipedia: NS Savannah

U.S. Maritime Administration

National Historic Landmark Application: Savannah (PDF) (link to pics)

Sandia National Laboratories (newsletter on Savannah)


(1)U.S. Maritime Administration

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