The NS Savannah

The Savannah is one of those big artifacts from the future. When we will fly in space, land people on the Moon, have passenger jets which go faster than the speed of sound, and the nuclear Merchant Marine will go seven times around the world without refueling, on 33 pounds of U235 (which will be available in every corner drug store).

Near as I can tell, the future ended with Apollo 16's departure from the surface of the Moon in 1972. And the NS. Savannah (license number NS-1) is both the US's first and the US's last nuclear powered Merchant Marine ship.

I first read about the Savannah on Wikipedia, and figured I'd never see her. Then I was at a science fiction convention, and someone mentioned that the Savannah was in Baltimore, about 30 minutes from my house. But that it was only open once a year on Maritime Day (the anniversary of the SS. Savannah's first steam powered crossing of the Atlantic, which the NS. Savannah is named after). So I determined when Maritime day was, showed up first thing in the morning, and was the last member of the public off the ship.

Then I started lurking on ebay... You'd be surprised how much Savannah stuff is up there. I have a small collection of the usual stuff (EG. the glass trays from the keel laying and the launching). Then a pair of 16mm films came up. I shot 16mm home movies for 20 years, so I have a film scanner. I bought those films, one documenting the construction of the Savannah, and one documenting the defueling in 1971. Turns out that I have the best digital copy of that film in existence.

Then something really cool showed up... A crew member's notes. So I spent way too much money, and scored about a shelf-foot of documentation and drawings. So thats what this page is about, the gorey details of implementing and operating a pressurized water nuclear reactor. State of the art in 1960.

I'm going to try and do a commentary on the documentation in the style of the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. (You should go read it too.) Yes I stole their HTML style stuff. This is also going to be a work in progress, but then again isn't everything on the web?

Standard Operating Procedures

Plant Operating Standards

Emergency Operating Procedures


From the manual:

The EOPs in the following section describe the actions that will be taken by the operator in the event that certain specified conditions occur. In some cases, it may be possible for the operator to prevent these conditions from occurring, but the specific intent of these procedures is to provide a remedial course of action for a given situation. If will therefore be assumed that the situations do in fact exist and that the actions described are intended to bring the plant back to a safe condition rather than prevent the original event from occurring.

Emergency Plans

Equipment Failure Procedures

Lyrics to "Hawkin' Round the Vessel"
My text copyright 2020 Tommy Johnson, all rights reserved. I believe the Savannah documentation is property of MARAD or the US government.