Statement of Significance (as of designation - July 17, 1991):
Designed and constructed in the late 1950s as the first nuclear merchant ship, this combination cargo/passenger vessel was developed as part of President Dwight Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace initiative. Even though the market for such vessels never materialized, the design, construction, and operation of a new type of pressurized water reactor, utilizing low-enriched uranium, represented a major technological success. NS SAVANNAH was also a success in accomplishing her unique public relations role as a floating exhibit on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. She sailed 1/2 million miles around the world, and was visited by 1.5 million people. This exposure, unprecedented for a nuclear facility, is credited with easing anxieties over nuclear energy.