Atomic Aesthetic: NS SAVANNAH, Part Three

Peter Knego continues his visit with a tour of B and C Decks and the engine room of the world’s only nuclear-powered commercial passenger ship, the NS SAVANNAH of 1962.

NS SAVANNAH Association Website

NS SAVANNAH Virtual Tour

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All photos and copyright Peter Knego 2012 unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012, ctd.

B Deck

Forward stairs, facing up.

Reached via the main staircase, B Deck is the SAVANNAH’s lowest passenger level.

Dining room in its heyday. Peter Knego collection.
Dining Room today, facing aft.
Dining Room, facing aft/port.

The dining room is quite possibly the most spectacular of all of SAVANNAH’s Googie style spaces.

The bronze SS SAVANNAH, facing forward.

At the entry, a glass screen once again holds a bronze model of the SS SAVANNAH.

Totally random dining room carpet shot.

The original carpeting has managed to stay intact despite the march of time.

Googie booths.
Cushioned corner booth.

And so have the little details, such as the “hatbox” cushions in a corner booth, the original wall paper and the room’s cerrated perimeter.

Captain’s table with original seating.

Enough of the original chairs have survived to furnish the captain’s table. Other seating has come off cargo ships from the same era.

Atomic table setting.

SAVANNAH had her own custom-designed service ware, a selection of which has been put on display.

“Fission” by Pierre Bourdelle.
Fission features.

At the aft end of the space, “Fission” is a remarkable sculpture worthy of a closer look.

Atoms above.

Even the recessed lighting shared in the distinctive theme.

Galley, facing port/forward.
Radar Range.

The galley, which boasts a microwave prototype in the form of a water-cooled Raytheon Radarange oven, is immediately aft of the Dining Room.

Crew’s Mess, facing aft.
Laundry room.

C Deck is home to the laundry room.  Note the colorful tilework.

Refurbished crew cabin.
Un-refurbished crew cabin.

The contrast between a refurbished crew cabin and one that was cleaned up but left “as is” shows how much work has been put into the SAVANNAH thus far.

Pressure doors to the reactor compartment.
Tonight’s dress code: radioactive formal.

C Deck is also where the upper level of the reactor compartment was once accessed.  Nearby, there are displays detailing the safety issues of atomic power.

Engine viewing area diagram.
Overlooking the control room.

As SAVANNAH was designed to function as an emissary for the positive use of nuclear power, she has a unique “Engine Room Viewing Plaform” with displays explaining to her many thousands of visitors how she was powered. From here, there is a view over the machinery spaces as well as the glass-enclosed control room.

D Deck

D Deck contains the holds, the reactor and engine room, itself.

View of the turbines and viewing area.
De Laval plate.

Aside from the reactor, SAVANNAH has an otherwise relatively traditional steam power plant with modified De Laval geared turbines that produced 20,000 shaft horsepower to drive her single screw (now mounted near the fantail) at an average speed of 20 knots (24 maximum). A back up emergency generator (located inside the “teardrop” on aft Bridge Deck) could power the turbine and cooling system in case of an emergency and the SAVANNAH was made more maneuverable in the event she needed to be moved quickly.

Glass-enclosed controls.
Control, I’m Here!
Engineer manning the controls. Peter Knego collection.

The SAVANNAH’s control room is immediately aft of the engine space and unique for its glass facade, which must have made her engineers feel a bit “exposed” at times.

Main switchboard, facing starboard.
Main switchboard.

The main switchboard is directly aft of the control room on D Deck level.

Exit sign.

Our time was up and we had to hit the road back to Pennsylvania in order to escape the ravages of what ended up being a non-storm event. Hopefully, I will be able to return to the SAVANNAH in the not-too-distant future to finish documenting one of the most extraordinary ships ever built. Hats off to the team at MARAD and the NS SAVANNAH Association for their incredible work in bringing the SAVANNAH back from the brink! I’d like to stick my neck out here to say that she is a great example to show what can be done with key areas of a preserved SS UNITED STATES.

While the ship is not accessible for daily visits, she is opened up to the public several times a year. Private parties can also reserve the ship’s facilities for a limited number of functions. For more information, please go to the NS SAVANNAH Association site.

End Of “Atomic Aesthetic: NS SAVANNAH, Part Three”

With Very Special Thanks: Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Erhard Koehler

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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