Welcome to the official website of the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. We are dedicated to preserving and protecting the N.S. Savannah, a non-functional one-of-a-kind nuclear cargo/passenger ship. The Savannah is presently located in the Port of Baltimore, Maryland, under a long-term layberth contract with Canton Marine Terminals.
MARAD Requests Decommissioning Funds for FY17
The N/S SAVANNAH ASSOCIATION, INC. (hereafter, "NSSA") has been informed that the Fiscal Year 2017 budget request submitted by the Maritime Administration includes a line item requesting $8 million "to begin the decommissioning process, including the dismantlement and decontamination of the defueled nuclear power plant on board the former nuclear ship N.S. SAVANNAH." The request also includes $3 million "to maintain the vessel in protective storage."
This step marks the first time since 2006 that a real chance exists that the ship will move forward with dismantling and decontaminating all portions of the power plant and auxiliary spaces, leaving the ship eventually roughly 7 years down the road with the nuclear license terminated, and thus no longer under any NRC obligations.
It must be noted that the present plans for dismantling the nuclear plant do not include damaging or removing any other significant structures, or historic spaces, on board the ship. We will be presenting more detailed information on the work to be done in the coming days.
N.S. SAVANNAH holds three significant recognitions: The National Park Service declared the ship a Historic Landmark in 1991, and two professional organizations (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Nuclear Society) have recognized the ship as an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark and a Nuclear Engineering Landmark, respectively. The ship is the sole physical remainder of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous "Atoms for Peace" program intended to spread the economic, commercial use of nuclear technologies. It is significant to note that the Maritime Administration has stated that the desired outcome of the program is the eventual preservation of the ship.
NSSA will play a vital role in the preservation of the ship, and according to Erhard Koehler (Manager, N.S. SAVANNAH Programs for MARAD) already has played one. Koehler told the NSSA Board of Directors in an email that "MARAD could not have articulated the case for SAVANNAH without the public presence we have in Baltimore, and the good work of NSSA in making the ship shine. Your help will be needed as we go forward, and I look forward to working with you each step of the way."
Communications Director, N.S. Savannah Association
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N.S. Savannah Joined by John W Brown for Labor Day Weekend
Historic nuclear powered ship N.S. SAVANNAH will once again be open for tours by the public on Labor Day weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday (September 4 through 6) the ship will be available to tour at Pier 13, Canton Marine Terminal, Baltimore MD.
SS JOHN W. BROWN, a World War 2 Liberty Ship, will be berthed at the same pier for this weekend celebration, providing a unique opportunity for maritime enthusiasts to tour both a Second World War ship built by the dozens to move equipment and men in support of the war effort and also tour the only nuclear powered cargo-passenger ship ever built in the United States. N.S. SAVANNAH is also the only remaining example of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "Atoms For Peace" program.
N.S. SAVANNAH will not be open for tours on Monday, September 7.
N.S. Savannah to Be Open for Tours, May 17, 2015 in Observance of National Maritime Day
The N.S. Savannah will be opened for tours at her pier in Baltimore, Md. on May 17, 2015, as a part of the annual commemoration of National Maritime Day in Baltimore. During the hours of 10-3, visitors will be offered a rare opportunity to view this beautiful and historic vessel. Directions to the ship are provided elsewhere on this website. Visitors should allow allow time for a short pre-boarding safety brief.
"This day pays special tribute to the people who served as merchant mariners in service to their country as well as to the benefits that the maritime industry provides for the United States," says Bob Moody, President of the N.S. Savannah Association Inc. and former licensed reactor operator on the ship. "We’re pleased that the Port of Baltimore hosts visitors on these occasions, and that the U.S. Maritime Administration opens the ship for the day for tours so that people can see just how unique and beautiful the ship is, inside and out."
N.S. Savannah Association members will be on board during the weekend, providing information to visitors. The Association serves to assist in preservation of the ship, as well as public education about the ship and its history.
Maritime Day, declared as a holiday by joint act of Congress in 1933, was set as May 22 as that is the day in 1819 on which the steamer Savannah left on the first successful transatlantic voyage by a steam-powered vessel. In honor of that pioneer, the keel of N.S. Savannah was laid on Maritime Day in 1958.
NMD will be celebrated in coordination with Port Expo 2015. Many of the events on the pier will be similar to last year. However, improvements are always in the works. There will be three categories of scheduled events; music, speakers, and the radio controlled boats. Each will perform in a separate venue on the pier. Food trucks will also be available.
There will be a short opening ceremony on the pier at 10 am. The NMD observance will be moved to 2 pm, and will be the conclusion to the day's scheduled events.
When making plans to attend, please remember that the Preakness will be held on May 16 and flights and hotel room availability may be limited around that date.
NSSA Response to BBC Article "The Ship That Totally Failed to Change the World"
N/S Savannah Association, Inc. 8/8/2014
For immediate release
On July 25, 2014, BBC News Magazine published a feature piece on N.S. SAVANNAH entitled "The Ship That Totally Failed to Change the World." The N/S SAVANNAH Association, Inc. was contacted during the production of the article, and interviews were conducted with Stan Wheatley and Will Davis. While the bulk of the article is accurate, and NSSA welcomes and appreciates the media attention, certain points contained in the article are not necessarily accurate.
The question of the primary coolant discharge overboard during the early years of the ship's operation was asked, and a detailed answer provided. None of the answer, emailed to BBC's Justin Parkinson, was included in the article, which when printed simply stated that overboard discharges (of radioactive water) were reduced when greater tank capacity on board was installed, which is not accurate. In order to ensure that the complete story as to the overboard discharges during the first few years of operation is told, the explanation as e-mailed is reproduced here:
- As first constructed, the primary plant (nuclear steam supply system) on board N.S. SAVANNAH (hereafter, "NSS") was found to have a leak rate which at times depending upon operations and testing could amount to up to 1200 US gallons per day, although often it was much lower. It's important to understand that this was reactor coolant - which itself is highly purified water.
From the FSAR (Final Safety Analysis Report) for the ship, STS-004-002, section 7.1.2 we obtain the following:
- "During the NSS's operational period, most of the leakage from the primary system was from the buffer seal (SL) system reciprocating charge pumps and from the diaphragm-operated relief valves. Maintenance techniques for the buffer seal charge pumps (which took suction downstream of the primary system demineralizers) were steadily improved. Improvements in the design and testing sequence of the relief valves reduced the leakage. As a result of these improvements, leakage was reduced from a maximum of 1200 gpd [gallons per day] to 50-100 gpd. Leakage from the buffer seals of the control rod drive shafts and from the valve stem packing was always well within acceptable and anticipated limits."
(The buffer seal system described above provided a positive inflow of water into the reactor through the control rod drive shaft seals, preventing leakage out of them; the diaphragm operated relief valves are overpressure protection for the reactor plant. The implication of the buffer seal pumps taking suction downstream of the demineralizers is that the water is highly purified after having passed through them; thus, any leak off is purified as well.)
The process was that accumulated leaked coolant was stored in tanks. Prior to discharging this liquid , the tanks were sampled to ensure they were within Federal (US 10 CFR 20, Table II, MPCW) limits. After this was guaranteed, the water was safely discharged at sea.
Significantly radioactive material, such as ion exchanger resin or any such, was not discharged at sea but rather at approved facilities such as that at Todd Shipyards, Galveston Texas or else onto dedicated servicing barge NSV ATOMIC SERVANT. No solid materials were dumped at sea.
At the end of the BBC article, it is stated that future acceptance of nuclear ships "might require more than a publicity trip or two," with the direct implication that this is all that N.S. SAVANNAH achieved during her tours around the world. In point of fact, operation of SAVANNAH led to visits to over 30 domestic and 40 foreign ports, during the demonstration period the first few years of the ship's operation, and following that during the five years of commercial operation. During this entire time period, the availability of the power plant (the amount of time it was actually available, versus the amount of time it was scheduled to be) was 99%. N.S. SAVANNAH had a history, and performance record, that any future nuclear merchant ship would do well to duplicate.
Communications Director, N.S. Savannah Association
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Membership and Donation Drive
Our Annual Membership and Donation Drive is in progress! If you would like to become a member and/or support us with a contribution, please join or donate today using our secure donation site or the printable form. Annual dues are $75.00 which helps with the preservation of the ship and promotion of onboard activities. To join, click here to visit our Membership and Donations Page. You can also make a donation without joining by clicking this button:
Visiting the N.S. Savannah
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) controls access to the N.S. Savannah and the ship is not currently open to the general public. However, MARAD's Savannah Technical Support (STS) group can grant access to the ship and provide escorted tours for groups and individuals. All visits and tour requests should be directed to the MARAD STS group. Please visit the MARAD website Frequently Asked Questions page for more information on arranging your tour. Click here for driving directions to the N.S. Savannah.
You can take a virtual tour of the ship right now at the Historic Naval Ships Association website's Tour of N.S. Savannah.