Rotterdam – In Rotterdam today, hundreds of people have visited the first nuclear ship in the world, from Savannah. The American ship is moored at Parkkade.

“A beautiful chimneyless ship that will certainly attract the interest of tens of thousands in Rotterdam”

(Het Vrije Volk – 30-09-1964)

Immediately after mooring at Parkkade first curious boarded.

“We actually had an anti-climax there, although we should immediately see that as a plus for the Savannah. We were guided past the reactor, where the staff sat in front of the control panel with their arms folded ”

(Het Vrije Volk, 30-09-1964)

Of course there's also thought about safety. A place has been designated where the Savannah must go, Should anything go wrong.

Atomic merchant ship “Savannah” in Rotterdam, the “Savannah” at Hoek van Holland. Foto: Eric Koch, National Archives / Anefo

According to the United States, such a measure is not necessary. The ship is considered safe, that there is no longer any need for special checks on the ship, says Captain McMichael.

The decision was made after it appeared in several American ports that the Savannah was not at all dangerous.

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However, all security measures have implications for the Savannah. Because of Rotterdam's requirement that the ship must be able to leave quickly, the cargo ship may not use the maximum draft. Therefore, full capacity cannot be utilized. So far, the cargo hold has remained virtually empty.

According to McMichael, the main goal of the trip is therefore to remove the fear of nuclear ships.

Hoe ging het verder?

The ship leaves for Antwerp a week later. At that time in Rotterdam 50.000 People have been on board.

The ship's popularity in Rotterdam contrasts sharply with the way it is greeted in Amsterdam, two years later. There, the city's Health Council declines a visit by the nuclear ship.

“Admission of a nuclear ship to a port should only be considered if it is certain that it can be quickly transferred to the sea or to a safe emergency berth in an accident situation. (…) in addition, it is important that potentially radioactively contaminated surface water is discharged quickly and naturally to the sea. In this respect, the situation in Amsterdam is certainly less favorable than in Rotterdam ”,

(Health report Amsterdam, 1966)

And so the visit to Amsterdam is not.

Less than ten years later it appears that an atomic freighter is a nice idea, but certainly not profitable. In 1971 the ship is taken out of service.

Yet Rotterdam gets in 1971 another visit from an atomic ship, de Otto Hahn.

Only military ships (such as submarines) is still made use of atomic energy.


G-History - 5-2007 - Savannah not welcome. - Short nuclear glory

Het Vrije Volk - 30-09-1964 – Ornate - almost empty - Savannah in Rotterdam

Het Vrije Volk – 01-10-1964 – Savannah presents no danger

Author: Dave Datema

published: 29-09-2019

story number: 153