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MARAD seeks to save Savannah, the first nuclear ship

The decommissioning process for the nuclear-powered merchant ship NS Savannah, the world’s first of its kind, is well under way, according to the US Maritime Administration (MARAD).

Recently, MARAD, in collaboration with other entities, published a Notice of Availability and a Request for Information.

The dismantlement and removal of major systems, structures, and components from the ship’s nuclear power plant have been completed.

MARAD has set a 16 February 2024 deadline for determining preservation interest from entities interested in acquiring the ship.

Funds for decommissioning the historic vessel were allocated in 2017, and with the process nearing completion, MARAD notes that the vessel’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licence will be terminated.

Three to six months after the NRC license termination, the vessel is expected to be available for transfer to a qualified organisation.

In December MARAD plans to make the vessel available for inspection by interested organisations ahead of the proposal submission deadline.

Launched in 1959 NS Savannah was designed as a demonstration ship and a key element of President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace programme.

Despite initial opposition from the US Navy, she was commissioned in 1962. After serving as a demonstration ship, hosting over 1.4 million visitors, the vessel was converted to all cargo in the late 1960s and began commercial operations.

She was laid up in 1970, having traveled over 450,000 nautical miles on 163 pounds of uranium.

Over the years, MARAD sought preservation solutions for the ship, and after executing a Programmatic Agreement in March 2023, MARAD submitted its Licence Termination Plan to the NRC on 23 October 2023.

While the Licence Termination Plan allows for options such as scrapping or reefing the vessel, MARAD is actively seeking viable preservation alternatives.

Ships Montly - January 2024

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