THE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR PROPULSION IN MERCHANT SHIPS

The operating record of the nuclear merchant ships Savannah and Otto Hahn, together with the more than 200 nuclear naval vessels, clearly indicates that the technology exists today to provide sound and reliable nuclear-powered commercial vessels." The U.S.-flag Savannah, built to ABS classification, operated from 1962 to 1970; the West German-flag Otto Hahn entered service in 1968 and is still active. These vessels have enabled the shipbuilding industry to gain considerable technical knowledge and experience. This expertise could be readily applied to building nuclear-powered merchant ships. The ABS Chairman cited three major problems that have hindered the advent of commercial nuclear ships: questions concerning economic justification, indemnification and liability in case of damages, and port entry and international clearance. Although nuclear-powered merchant ships may not be in service by the early 1980s, it is his feeling that we will se nuclear-powered merchant ships sailing the oceans by the end of the next decade. In one effort to resolve the problems, governments and private agencies, individually and jointly, are developing proposals regarding nuclear liability, insurance, and standards for design and safety. The Brussels Convention on Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships, which awaits ratification, would limit owner liability for accidents to about $500 million. Signatory states would license nuclear ships of their flag and provide indemnification to that limit. Ratification of the Brussels Convention would be a great boost to the development of nuclear-powered merchant ships. The consensus of the maritime industry is that the best candidates for nuclear propulsion are the high-speed and high-powered vessels such as containerships, very large crude carriers, and liquefied natural gas carriers. There are other conceivable applications where conventional power is effectively ruled out, such as arctic icebreaker tankers.

  • Corporate Authors:

    American Bureau of Shipping

    ABS Plaza, 16855 Northchase Drive
    Houston, TX  USA  77060
  • Publication Date: 1977-5-25

Media Info

  • Pagination: 3 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00165678
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: American Bureau of Shipping
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 23 1977 12:00AM