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Fleet's gem arrives for polishing (nuclear-powered mechant ship Savannah)
Virginian Pilot ^ | 16 Aug 06 | JON W. GLASS

Posted on 08/16/2006 7:39:31 AM PDT by GATOR NAVY

NORFOLK - The Savannah, described by some as the most famous ship in the James River Reserve Fleet, arrived under tow Tuesday at Colonna's Shipyard for a sprucing up - and the start of a new life.

The sleek, white vessel was the world's first and the nation's only nuclear-powered cargo and passenger ship - the brainchild of President Eisenhower and part of his Atoms for Peace program in the 1950s.

The work at Colonna's - where the behemoth can be seen across the Elizabeth River from Harbor Park - is primarily preventive maintenance.

It launches a larger government plan to remove the inactive nuclear plant, clean out any remnant radiation and prepare the ship for a new mission as a museum.

Officials with the U.S. Maritime Administration, the caretaker of the reserve fleet and the Savannah's owner, said the ship could be put up for donation as a museum as early as 2010.

Hampton Roads could be in the running.

The federal agency has identified the region as one of three East Coast ports preferred to carry out the ship's nuclear decommissioning. That process, overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, could take more than three years and pump $50 million of shipyard and engineering contracts into the community, officials with the administration said.

The agency is holding a public meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Nauticus to discuss "tentative plans" for bringing the work to Hampton Roads. It would involve pulling out the ship's nuclear plant facilities.

The other two ports being considered are Charleston, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C.

"There are a number of Hampton Roads shipyards and other companies interested in bidding," Erhard Koehler, the agency's project manager, said.

The site of the ship's nuclear dismantling "is in no way tied" to where it would become a museum, Koehler said.

However, he added: "Obviously there are some ports that would like to have the ship as a museum offering themselves" for the decommissioning work.

A decision on who removes the reactor should be made by the end of this year, Koehler said.

The $995,000 contract won by Colonna's Shipyard includes repairing leaks on the main deck, cleaning interior staterooms, repairing cargo wenches and upgrading the lighting, said Richard Sobocinski, the shipyard's vice president of contracts. The work will ready the ship for the next step - hiring a shipyard to blast and repaint the hull. A contract will be awarded this fall.

On Tuesday, under partly sunny skies, a steady breeze and 1 -foot seas, agency officials watched from a boat as three tugs muscled the Savannah into a shipping channel to begin the five-hour trip to Colonna's. The ship likely will never return to the reserve fleet, nicknamed the "ghost fleet," in waters off Fort Eustis in Newport News.

The 36-nautical-mile tow took it under the James River Bridge and over the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel. It paraded by the downtown waterfront before passing under the Berkley Bridge.

Its steel hull was pocked by rust-colored water stains and gray patches where the original primer paint was showing. Despite its faded beauty, the sweeping lines of the national historic landmark, resembling a yacht's, drew one enthusiast to make a four-hour drive.

Jim Lemon drove from Lynchburg to snap photos of the ship from Harbor Park as the tugs maneuvered it down the river's Eastern Branch and alongside a pier in Colonna's yard.

Lemon, 73, a retired mechanical engineer, worked for the company that designed and manufactured major components of the Savannah's nuclear plant.

"It made my heart stop," Lemon said. He last saw the ship in the 1980s, when it was moored near Charleston as a floating museum. "It's a beautiful ship."

# Reach Jon W. Glass at (757) 446-2318 or jon.glass@pilotonline.com.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Virginia
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My folks tell me I went on the Savannah as a baby when the ship visited Seattle. My Mom talked about standing in line for hours to get onboard.
I wish I had known about this move ahead of time. I would have gone down and watched.

The Savannah is eased up the Elizabeth River just past the Berkley Bridge by several tugs Tuesday on its way to Colonna’s Shipyard for cleaning and upgrades. BILL TIERNAN/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

1 posted on 08/16/2006 7:39:33 AM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: GATOR NAVY
IIRC the Savannah was laid up in Galveston back in the early 1970s. I seem to recall passing her on the way out and back from off shore fishing in those days...
2 posted on 08/16/2006 7:45:58 AM PDT by Bender2 (Gad! The inmates have control... And I'm trying to quit smoking!)
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To: Bender2

She did a stint at Patriot's Point near Charleston, South Carolina in the early 1990s. She was down there when I visited around that time, but I didn't go onboard.

}:-)4


3 posted on 08/16/2006 7:47:34 AM PDT by Moose4 (Dirka dirka Mohammed jihad.)
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To: GATOR NAVY

She needs to come home to Savannah, GA.

I toured the NS Savannah several times when it was in Charleston. It was still a beautiful craft then, and could be again with a little love and money.

It's time for her to come home.


4 posted on 08/16/2006 7:53:32 AM PDT by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
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To: GATOR NAVY

Just noticed the line about the reactor. Unless they put it back in, it is gone. There was a giant hole in the deck where the reactor was, but, it was empty.


5 posted on 08/16/2006 7:54:57 AM PDT by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
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To: Bender2
I don't know. She was laid up in 1972 due to excessive operating costs but the article didn't say where. Then she shows up at Charleston in 1982.

The NS Savannah passing under the Golden Gate Bridge enroute to the Seattle, WA World's Fair in 1962.

6 posted on 08/16/2006 8:00:40 AM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: Conan the Librarian

When I was there in 1987, the reactor was still in place. No fuel rods, of course, and you couldn't go into the reactor room, but there were windows through which you could look down into it.


7 posted on 08/16/2006 8:01:36 AM PDT by thulldud ("Para inglÚs, oprima el dos.")
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To: GATOR NAVY
...repairing cargo wenches...


8 posted on 08/16/2006 8:03:14 AM PDT by Oberon (As a matter of fact I DO want fries with that.)
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To: GATOR NAVY
Yeah, I've been on Google and other search engines trying to find out her history, too...

No luck, but I sure do remember seeing her laid up circa 1973-75 in Galveston. My boss at the time had a fishing boat we used to fish the Galveston jetties and off shore rigs. And the sleek, smart lines of the Savannah are hard to forget. I remember her being there...

Surely there are some other Freepers who were in Galveston in the early 70s who might recall her also...

9 posted on 08/16/2006 8:08:53 AM PDT by Bender2 (Gad! The inmates have control... And I'm trying to quit smoking!)
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To: GATOR NAVY

What a striking contrast that ship is. High tech engine and low tech cargo handling equipment. She's an old "boom ship" (named after her cargo booms)


10 posted on 08/16/2006 8:12:16 AM PDT by Cold Heart
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To: GATOR NAVY

prepare the ship for a new mission as a congressional boondoggle.


11 posted on 08/16/2006 8:14:50 AM PDT by DManA
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To: GATOR NAVY
Re: "The sleek, white vessel was the world's first and the nation's only nuclear-powered cargo and passenger ship - the brainchild of President Eisenhower and part of his Atoms for Peace program in the 1950s."

BTW from List of civilian nuclear ships

Mutsu, Japan
Otto Hahn, Germany
NS Savannah, United States
Sevmorput, Russia (former Soviet Union)

12 posted on 08/16/2006 8:15:06 AM PDT by Bender2 (Gad! The inmates have control... And I'm trying to quit smoking!)
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To: GATOR NAVY
OPPS...

Re: "The sleek, white vessel was the world's first and the nation's only nuclear-powered cargo and passenger ship - the brainchild of President Eisenhower and part of his Atoms for Peace program in the 1950s."

BTW from List of civilian nuclear ships

Mutsu, Japan
Otto Hahn, Germany
NS Savannah, United States
Sevmorput, Russia (former Soviet Union)

13 posted on 08/16/2006 8:17:16 AM PDT by Bender2 (Gad! The inmates have control... And I'm trying to quit smoking!)
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To: Bender2

do those ships also have cargo wenches?


14 posted on 08/16/2006 8:22:52 AM PDT by rahbert
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To: GATOR NAVY

"My folks tell me I went on the Savannah as a baby when the ship visited Seattle. My Mom talked about standing in line for hours to get onboard."

The Savannah also came to Portland, and my dad took my younger brother, a neighborhood friend and I to see it...we also stood in line, but I still have a mental image of the beautiful model of the original Savannah -- the first paddlewheel steamship to cross the Atlantic from America to Europe -- on display in the main dining room (?). I wonder if it's still there...


15 posted on 08/16/2006 8:40:28 AM PDT by Clioman
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To: Bender2

Interesting. I knew about the Russian ships but I had never heard of the Japanese or German ships.


16 posted on 08/16/2006 8:47:58 AM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: GATOR NAVY

It was here in Savannah waiting for the City Fathers to come up with a plan for a museum. Then it went to Charleston.

They must have put the reactor back in at some point. I went in 1984, so they could have.


17 posted on 08/16/2006 8:53:17 AM PDT by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
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To: GATOR NAVY

It was my understanding that the thing was so severely contaminated that it had to be taken out of service


18 posted on 08/16/2006 8:57:50 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your most dangerous enemy is your own government)
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To: Cold Heart; rahbert; Oberon
You want a boom ship? Here's a boom ship. 80 ton booms fore and aft, 40 ton booms fore and aft and eight 15 ton booms.

But no cargo wenches...

19 posted on 08/16/2006 9:10:26 AM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: GATOR NAVY

Is that an LKA?


20 posted on 08/16/2006 9:13:56 AM PDT by mad_as_he$$ (Never corner anything meaner than you. NSDQ)
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