Page 32: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (August 2018)
The Shipyard Edition
N/S Savannah Embracing the Nuclear Option
Worth seeing, worth saving – and, worth every penny spent to do both.
As the editor of both Maritime Lo- Energy, where he worked for Admiral gistics Professional and MarineNews Rickover for much of that time. We’ll magazines, I ? atter myself that I have – never know. It was nice, nostalgic mo- perhaps like no one else covering mari- ment. Also right about then, I was sud- time business – a unique lens into the denly glad that I had brought him along.
That's a lot of talent vast diversity that exists from one end The décor was intended to be uniquely gathered on the of this fascinating business to the other. American; Koehler describes it as “mid- port wing of the
Drilling down a bit, and on the domestic century modern.” Let’s go with that.
NS Savannah. L to waterfront, there’s arguably no bigger That comes complete with gallons of ON POINT WITH JOE KEEFE
R: Joseph Keefe, contrast in coverage assignments than, lead paint and excellently coated asbes-
MarineNews and say, attending the exciting MACC Show tos. Some of this has been removed, and
Maritime Logistics at Curtis Bay, MD on one day, and then some, apparently, is better left encased
Professional Edi- tor; Marad Program stepping aboard the nation’s ? rst and and otherwise undisturbed. As we toured
Manager Erhard only entry into the world of nuclear pow- the vessel, Koehler pointed out that a
Koehler; and Robert ered merchant shipping on the next. But, great deal of restoration had taken place
Murphy, former that’s exactly what I did in late July, on already, most of which had clearly and
Director, Of? ce of two successive days. carefully been executed with an eye to-
On Wednesday and Thursday, I was ward preserving the original motif. If so, ment, U S Naval zipping along and being treated to tight they have done a nice job. For example,
Nuclear Propulsion corners at 50 MPH on the nation’s most some ornamental tiles on the decks and
CREDIT: Rodney McNany, Marad advanced littoral, patrol and special mis- stairwells are exact replicas of the old sion craft. It’s not for the faint of heart. asbestos tiles.
Friday brought a more sedate, yet equal- rector, Of? ce of Resource Management, having disembarked after the tour. Even A trip through the crew’s quarters re- ly interesting assignment, as I boarded for the US Naval Nuclear Propulsion lacking a recent paint job, Savannah is vealed no surprises and the better pre- the now idle nuclear ship Savannah, Program. As a matter of full disclosure, a handsome addition to the gritty Balti- served rooms would be familiar to any moored quietly and obscurely along the he’s also my brother-in-law. When I told more waterfront. American merchant mariner, right down
Baltimore waterfront. I simply love to him, some weeks prior, what I was in- to that ubiquitous, institutional green tour the old ships. My gracious hosts at tending to do, he readily agreed to come Savannah Stem to Stern paint slapped on the bulkheads. During
Marad made sure the trip was worth the along for this trip down memory lane. Bob, of course, wanted to see the en- this part of the tour, I admit to experienc- wait. Our guide, Marad’s Erhard Koehler, gine room. Ever the deckie, I wanted ing a serious and depressing ? ashback to was the perfect host and perhaps the guy to see the bridge and wander around on my days at sea, but I recovered quickly ‘Savannah’ on my mind who knows more about the N.S. Savan- deck. Eventually we did both. But ? rst, and rebounded nicely once out on deck.
It ain’t easy to ? nd. And once off the nah than anyone else on the planet. At we mustered in a nicely appointed and As far as the nuclear plant was con- freeway on the Baltimore waterfront, the same time, I could also ask for no restored reception area just inboard of cerned, Koehler explained that there was well, it isn’t the best neighborhood. Be- more knowledgeable nuclear energy the main gangway area, where Erhard relatively little risk in the vessel’s opera- yond this, you need to make a few ran- SME than long time [now retired] SES Koehler, the U.S. Maritime Administra- tion. A collision barrier – far more robust dom turns past and through some dry USN executive Bob Murphy. And in tion’s Manager?, N.S. Savannah Program, than most would have thought – in the cargo docks, navigate the detour, and places where I maybe found one piece of brought us up to speed with a safety vicinity of the reactor and dome, saw to along the way, slap the GPS a time or minutia just a little dull, he instead asked lecture and then some general fun facts that. The vessel stopped carrying pas- two when it gets confused. Harkening the right questions and showed me what about the grand old boat. sengers in 1965. Originally, it was ? tted back to my days as a cargo surveyor I was important, and why. Sandwiched in It was right about then that my brother- to accommodate as many as 190 people, remembered that any trip to perform a between Koehler and Murphy for this in-law mentioned to Koehler that, as a including 65 crew. Ultimately, the ves- draft survey typically involved the req- two hour tour, with the watchful and young boy growing up in Rhode Island, sel’s service ended in 1970, mostly due uisite ? at tire after you’d run over about helpful Marad PAO [Rodney McNany] he had toured the Savannah when she to budget issues.
six million nails and assorted dunnage in tow, I got a real sense of just how im- had called at Providence. As he spoke, The vessel’s navigation bridge and on the way to that assignment. Not to portant this piece of history is, and why Koehler nodded vigorously and then led engine control room were, of course, worry; no ? at tires this time and we ar- it should be preserved. us around to the other side of the ves- two of the tour’s highlights. And having rived on the pier on time and just as we Still NRC-controlled to this very sel to show us an exhibit that contained sailed on my fair share of U.S. ? ag, 40- crawled down the pier towards the re- day, the Savannah has few peers when a photo capturing the vessel’s transit year old rust buckets (and that in no way markable vessel, a worried Rodney Mc- it comes to her ? ne, sleek lines and through Narragansett Bay on that very describes Savannah), I was right at home
Nany was ringing up my cell phone to pleasing naval architecture. Contrast- day, so long ago. For his part, Murphy in the vessel’s Spartan wheelhouse. The inquire as to where we were. I told him ing sharply to today’s ? oating bathtub- was noncommittal as to whether the ex- bridge had a “Scram” button, something to look out the porthole. shaped cargo ships, it is easy to spend perience had prodded him on his way which basically was the shutdown for
At my side in an unof? cial, but helpful 20 minutes on the pier just admiring her to a distinguished, 40-year career in the the reactor in times of emergency. But role was Robert Murphy, the former Di- lines. And, that’s just what we did, once U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of for the deckies – and apparently this was 32 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • AUGUST 2018
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