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Described in the Baltimore Sun as "a floating time capsule from the mid-20th century," Nuclear Ship Savannah is moored outside of Pier 13 in Baltimore and is only sporadically opened to visitors. The Savannah was commissioned under President Eisenhower, whose program Atoms for Peace encouraged non-military uses of nuclear power. Designed as the flagship of Atoms for Peace, the Savannah cost approximately $47 million and took her maiden voyage in 1962. The ship could carry up to 60 passengers at a time--not enough to make a profit--and operated as a passenger ship from 1962 to 1965, and then a cargo ship until 1970. See the N.S. Savannah Association link below to take a virtual tour.

  • Atoms for Peace Stamp
  • Savannah under the Golden Gate Bridge in 1962
  • Navigation Bridge of the Savannah
  • Book about maritime nuclear power

The Savannah was the world’s first merchant ship to be nuclear-powered. Nuclear-powered ships work from steam produced by a nuclear power plant. The Savannah was built in the late fifties. funded by the US government funded it as a project of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and the Department of Commerce. It was built as part of President Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative.

“Atoms for Peace” was an idea originally introduced by Eisenhower at the UN General Assembly in New York City on December 8, 1953. In a speech he delivered at the Assembly, he said:

I feel impelled to speak today in a language that in a sense is new—one which I, who have spent so much of my life in the military profession, would have preferred never to use. That new language is the language of atomic warfare...It is with the book of history, and not with isolated pages, that the United States will ever wish to be identified. My country wants to be constructive, not destructive. It wants agreement, not wars, among nations. It wants itself to live in freedom, and in the confidence that the people of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing their own way to live. (see 'sources' below for a link to the entire speech).

This speech was part of a media campaign called “Operation Candor”, which sought to educate the American public on the risks and potential of nuclear technology.

Iran, Israel, and Pakistan had their first nuclear reactors built by the American Machine and Foundry as part of the “Atoms for Peace” initiative.

Chernus, Ira. Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002. 

Dresser, Michael. "Celebrated nuclear ship rests in Baltimore." Baltimore Sun, July 31, 2011.

Eisenhower, Dwight, D. "Address Before the General Assembly of the United Nations on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, New York City." Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. December 08, 1953. Accessed February 12, 2017. 

Hewlett, Richard, and Jack Holl. Atoms for Peace and War, 1953-1961: Eisenhower and the Atomic Energy Commission. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. 

"Nuclear Ship Savannah." MARAD: Maritime Administration. Accessed February 12, 2017. 

"Virtual Tour." Historic Naval Ships Association. Accessed February 12, 2017.

"Virtual Tour." N.S. Savannah Association. Accessed February 12, 2017.