Nuclear Ship Savannah Renovation
The world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship anchored at Baltimore, MD since the 1970’s was undergoing a renovation which required cutting into the containment vessel to gain access to the reactor. The merchant vessel NS (Nuclear Ship) Savannah was proposed by President Eisenhower in 1955 as a showcase for his “Atoms for Peace” initiative. The Savannah was an elegant combination passenger and merchant vessel which sailed around the globe from 1962 to 1971, visiting over 40 ports and hosting a million visitors.
Radiation Safety and Control Services
The space for cutting, lifting, and moving cut blocks was limited. The cut pieces could not exceed 5,000 lbs. and had to be maneuvered from the cut location into the ship’s cargo hold. As we cut and core drilled through multiple layers of steel and redwood, we encountered an unexpected void between walls into which cut blocks could potentially slip.
We designed and built customized equipment to fit the space. The saw was configured to cut vertically and horizontally. The pulling and lifting frame was designed to fit into the limited space. Pulled blocks were placed on carts we designed specifically to maneuver blocks into the cargo hold. We drilled a hole through the center of each block and inserted a bolt which held the layers together during cut and removal.
By modifying our equipment on site to address the challenges of changing conditions, we finished the cutting and removal successfully. As our Project Manager Chris Mattingly summed it up, “We’re cutting history, and that’s interesting.”