The first—and so far only—nuclear-powered ocean liner, NS Savannah (1959), was launched on 21 July 1959.
Savannah was conceived by the US government as a demonstration project to promote the peaceful use of atomic energy. At the launch ceremony, held in Camden, New Jersey, Savannah was christened by US First Lady Mamie Eisenhower.
Similar in several respects to Cunard Line’s post-war Carinthia, Ivernia, Saxonia and Sylvania hybrid vessels, Savannah was designed to carry both people and cargo. Yet, unlike her conventionally-powered British counterparts, Savannah drew her energy from an on-board nuclear reactor.
Costing nearly $50 million, the 13,599 GRT Savannah was 596 feet long and 78 feet at beam. She could carry up to 60 passengers and 124 crew members. A 74 megawatt Babcock & Wilcox nuclear reactor powered a pair of De Laval steam turbines. Unique among all ocean liners, Savannah had no funnel. Her rated service speed was 20 knots.
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