Posted on Monday, October 8, 2012 by Peter Knego
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.
All photos and copyright Peter Knego 2012 unless otherwise noted.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012, ctd.
Reached via the main staircase, B Deck is the SAVANNAH’s lowest passenger level.
The dining room is quite possibly the most spectacular of all of SAVANNAH’s Googie style spaces.
At the entry, a glass screen once again holds a bronze model of the SS SAVANNAH.
The original carpeting has managed to stay intact despite the march of time.
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.
Enough of the original chairs have survived to furnish the captain’s table. Other seating has come off cargo ships from the same era.
SAVANNAH had her own custom-designed service ware, a selection of which has been put on display.
At the aft end of the space, “Fission” is a remarkable sculpture worthy of a closer look.
Even the recessed lighting shared in the distinctive theme.
The galley, which boasts a microwave prototype in the form of a water-cooled Raytheon Radarange oven, is immediately aft of the Dining Room.
C Deck is home to the laundry room. Note the colorful tilework.
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.
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.
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 contains the holds, the reactor and engine room, itself.
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.
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.
The main switchboard is directly aft of the control room on D Deck level.
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