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NS Savannah - Design

Savannah has nine water-tight subdivisions consisting of seven cargo holds, a reactor compartment, and a machinery compartment. The vessel is fitted with three complete decks. Ten main transverse, watertight bulkheads divide the ship into eleven compartments. The hull is built on a transverse framing system except the inner-bottom, which is a combination of transverse and longitudinal framing stiffened in the reactor area to provide protection to the nuclear steam plant in case of ship collision.

In traditional passenger-cargo ships, the superstructure and passenger accommodations are located directly over the machinery spaces so the cargo spaces may be easily serviced by overhead cargo gear. In Savannah's case, however, the weight and extra space taken up by the nuclear reactor's containment vessel, as well as access and refueling requirements of this specialized equipment, required the superstructure to be placed aft of the reactor hatch. Savannah's teardrop shaped superstructure is set sufficiently aft to enhance the vessel's foresection which tapers to its well-raked bow.

This expanse of deck accommodates hatch openings for Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 cargo holds which are served by specially designed cargo gear: two sets of cargo gear support trusses and their eight attendant ten-ton booms and cargo handling gear. Immediately aft of No. 4 cargo hold and forward of the wheelhouse another hatch is located to provide access to the reactor space. The regular cargo handling rig of king posts and masts, found on standard cargo ships, was replaced on Savannah by a modified burtoning rig. This system comprised lighter tubular cargo handling gear developed for the modified Ebel rig and fitted for rapid handling of cargo. According to the ship's builders, this rig made it possible for one or two deck hands to unstow and position all booms on the ship for cargo operations in less than an hour. Furthermore, the shifting of booms from inshore to offshore operation during loading could be accomplished in one or two minutes without the winch operator having to move from his station. An inherent safety condition in this system made the rig refuse to lift a load if tension in the falls exceeded a safe limit. In practice, however, this safety feature worked too well. During the ship's cargo demonstration phase, the modified cargo handling equipment was too often found inadequate to lift heavy cargo.

Aft, the superstructure steps down to a generous expanse of deck at the promenade and "A" deck levels. One set of support trusses equipped with four ten-ton booms serves No. 6 and No. 7 cargo holds. Cargo hatch covers are set in coamings on "A" deck and are of the flush-closing type on "B" and "C" decks. All hatch covers except two non-tight, liftoff pontoon covers on the cargo deep tanks in No. 6 hold, are hydraulically operated from local stations at each hatch. The vessel has one additional cargo hold, No. 5, which is served by side ports exclusively. Later modifications to allow containerized cargo included the installation of container box tie-downs on "A" deck.

The forwardmost end of the uppermost deck, the navigating bridge deck, contains the pilothouse. The radio room is on the starboard side and the chartroom on the port side, outboard of the gyrocompass compartment. The remainder of this deck included quarters for three radio operators and two cadets, as well as space for the fan rooms, a battery room, and the emergency generating room.

The pilothouse was outfitted with the latest navigation and communication equipment, such as a reflecting-type magnetic compass, the first to be manufactured in this country. On either side of the steering stand were the "true motion" navigation radars. Another important unit in the wheelhouse was the control console for the anti-roll stabilizers manufactured by the Sperry Gyroscope Company, which are located on the port and starboard sides amidship. These fins automatically adjusted their angle to counteract the roll of the ship, and when not in use, folded back into the ship. In addition to providing a more comfortable ride for passengers, these fins enhanced the ship's stability, and thus the safety of the nuclear reactor. Savannah was the sixth vessel to feature this system.

Comprehensive meteorological instruments for recording sea water temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, air temperature, and wind direction and velocity were incorporated into the vessel making her a veritable floating weather station. Additional safety was afforded by including a special radio facsimile receiver which received world-wide weather map transmissions at sea from the U.S. Weather Bureau in Washington, DC.

The next uppermost deck, the boat deck, was devoted entirely to officers' accommodations. A spacious officers' lounge located in the tapered after-end afforded observation on either side of the ship as well as aft overlooking the passenger recreation area.

The promenade deck was devoted exclusively to public rooms and spaces. The enclosed promenade was treated as a terrace and the deck was covered in ceramic tile of various tones of blue and green. The interior and exterior styling were executed by the marine specialist, Jack Heaney and Associates, of Wilton, Connecticut. In keeping with the modernity of its nuclear propulsion system, a modern decor was carried out in the staterooms and public areas. All of the ship's public areas were air conditioned. While the ship was in operation, provisions were made for paintings and sculptures by American artists to be exhibited to passengers and visitors. A "walk around," the full width of the deck, featured a series of 30" polarized windows permitting an unobstructed, yet sheltered forward view of the sea. The main lounge, located at the forward end of the promenade deck, is elliptical in shape. It could be closed off from the adjacent cardroom by folding screens. The lounge was equipped with motion picture projection equipment as well as a closed-circuit television for viewing the reactor spaces. The lounge furniture included one 8' oval table of Vermont white statuary marble, and two 30"-diameter coffee tables of petrified wood.

On the aft end of the promenade deck, the Veranda Bar looked out on the swimming pool area through a deck-to-deck glass bulkhead. The dance floor, centered in the room, was bordered by tables with illuminated tops. Nearby, the illuminated dials of six clocks, showed the time in various cities around the world. The remaining deck space on this level was utilized as a shipboard game area.

Within the hull structure, "A" deck level was assigned to the main lobby, passenger staterooms and accommodations for the purser, steward, doctor, nurse, and beauty and barber shops. Thirty staterooms, each with private bath, accommodated one, two, or three passengers. Adjoining rooms opened up to form suites. The ship's hospital and dispensary were also located on this level, as was the health-physics laboratory. On this deck exhibits were provided by American industries to demonstrate various scientific developments. Furthermore, the Eastman Kodak Company provided a series of color transparencies presenting images of American life.

The dining room on "B" deck seated approximately 75 people. A large, white parabolic mural entitled "Fission," sculptured by Pierre Bourdelle, provides a dramatic background for the captain's table at the aft end of the room. The overhead lights in the dining room feature the ship's trademark--a decorative grillwork representing the swirling atom. While the ship was in operation, a small golden model of the original Savannah was suspended in a glass panel at the entrance foyer. "B" deck also included crew quarters, lounges, and messing facilities. The main galley on this level features stainless steel kitchen appliances, as well as an early "Radarange" oven. Built by the Raytheon Company, the microwave oven was used in the "preparation of special gourmet dishes for first-class passengers to shorten cooking time and for emergency thawing of food that has been frozen solid."

In addition to crew quarters, the main laundry and a butcher shop, "C" deck included a viewing gallery which allowed visitors to observe the engineroom and the reactor control room. The rest of "C" deck and all of "D" deck contained cargo, machinery, storage spaces, and the reactor.

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Page last modified: 22-07-2011 17:41:18 ZULU