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Worlds first nuclear powered Merchant ship N.S. Savannah visit to Dublin port 1964.



N.S. Savannah Postcard   Worlds first nuclear powered ship N.S.Savannah visits Dublin 1964. Reactor control room savannah interior.

Irish Shipping Ltd were the port agents for the visit and the following article first appeared in their company newsletter the Signal in 1964

Nuclear Ship “Savannah” in Dublin

“ THE ‘SAVANNAH’ SWEEPS IN ” ran the newspaper headline and the phrase aptly conveyed the impression we got as we watched the arrival of this beautiful ship at Alexandra Quay on July 2nd last. Mr. Erskine Childers, Minister for Transport & Power, was there to greet the ship on behalf of the Irish Government and with him were members of the Diplomatic Corps, Senior Army and Naval staff, members of the Dublin Port & Docks Board and representatives of Public Bodies, Trade Unions and Commercial Organisations. The Artane Boys' Band played rousing American and Irish music as the vessel eased into the decorated berth and the gaily dressed vessels in port blared out a welcome on their sirens. Needless to remark every port worker in the vicinity joined in the welcome.

Irish Shipping Ltd. were honoured to have been appointed Agents for the vessel by the Operators —American Export Isbrandtsen Lines Inc.

The “ Savannah ” was built as an experiment to show that atomic power is safe and efficient. All her power comes from an 8 ton load of enriched uranium which enables her to travel for 16,000 hours at 20 knots or to operate normally for 31 years without refuelling. The ship is a joint venture of the U.S. Maritime Administration and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. She is 600 feet long with a striking streamlined appearance— her lines unbroken by funnels and painted a gleaming white. She is equipped to carry 60 passengers and about 9} thousand tons of cargo. The reactor is hidden by several feet of concrete, lead, steel and polyethylene shielding.

First Capital City

Dublin was the third port on the “ Savannah’s ” maiden transatlantic trip and the first European capital to be visited. She had already called to Bremen and Hamburg and was scheduled to visit Southampton before returning to New York.

The U.S. Government, by this good-will tour, was demonstrating the peaceful and commercial uses of atomic energy.

Amazing Public Interest

As it turned out the visit to Dublin was the highlight of the European tour. The general public responded as never before to the U.S. Government’s invitation to visit the ship. During her three days in Dublin 41,000 people filed up the gangway and made a tour of the luxurious accommodation and operating spaces. On Sunday, July 5th, visitors amounted to 21,000—a record for a single day in any place where the “ Savannah ” was on view. All these people were brought to and from the ship by C.I.E. who laid on a special bus service and operated it with faultless precision.

No ship ever made such newspaper headlines or received so wide a radio and television coverage.

And here in the office we were snowed under with enquiries and requests from people in every walk of life to visit the ship. At the request of American Export Isbrandtsen Lines we arranged private tours for grcups drawn from Scientific, Technical and Professional Bodies, and over 2,000 of these people visited the ship on the morning of July 3rd, groups travelling from as far as Belfast, Cork and Waterford.

Various receptions were held on board by the U.S. Government and among the guests were the President, Mr. de Valera and the Taoiseach, Mr. Sean Lemass. The Master, Captain D. McMichael, and many of the ship’s officers were guests at a Reception given by Mr. Childers, Minister for Transport & Power, at Iveagh House.

Presentation at Dun Laoghaire

The programme of events to honour the vessel’s call to Dublin left the ship’s personnel with hardly a free moment, but nevertheless the Master and some officers found time to visit the head­quarters of the Maritime Institute of Ireland, where Captain McMichael presented a framed photograph of the “ Savannah ” to the Institute’s President, Col. A. T. Lawlor.

First Mass on “ Savannah ”

On Sunday morning, July 5th, the Port Chaplain, Rev. Father D. McCarthy, celebrated Mass on boardi and the Blessing was imparted by His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Sensi, Papal Nuncio. This was the first Mass offered on the “Savannah.”

Presentation to Master

In a brief ceremony on the ship our General Manager, Mr. L. S. Furlong, presented Captain McMichael with a plaque bearing the coats of arms of the Four Provinces, to commemorate the vessel’s visit to Dublin, and presented both the Master and Chief Engineer with personal gifts of crystal glass. Mr. Furlong complimented American Export Isbrandtsen Lines on the successful operation of such an intricate and unique ship, and Captain McMichael paid a tribute to Irish Shipping for the efficient handling of the “ Savannah.”

First Cargo by Atom Ship

The “ Savannah ” discharged 100 tons of cargo— the first complete shipment to arrive in Dublin from New York in containers, and she loaded at Dublin 250 tons of Irish exports for New York.


The visit of the “ Savannah ” to Dublin in­volved a considerable amount of advance planning and called for special security arrangements to protect the population of Dublin in the event of a million to one nuclear accident. Arrangements began in April when the “ Savannah ” Port Operating Team arrived in Dublin and held con­sultations with various Government Departments, the Public Health Authorities, Dublin Port & Docks Board. Civil Defence, and Dublin Fire Brigade.


Throughout the entire period of the visit, tugs were standing by to take the vessel out of port in the event of an emergency and 80 Civil Defence personnel maintained a 24 hour service of monitoring the air for radio activity in the vicinity of the ship. Special telephone cables were laid to the quayside to provide instant communications between all services and both Harbour Police and Gardai stood by for any alert.

Visiting Dublin to plan the programme for the “ Savannah ” were Mr. Bill Forrester, Public Relations section, American Export Isbrandtsen Lines: Mr. Paul Carrico, U.S. Government; Mr. C. F. Blackman, U.S. Government; Mr. R. Zornow, A.E.I.L.; Captain D. Spence. A.E.I.L.; Mr. K. Sullivan. Mr. E Hutchinson, Captain T. McKenna, Captain A. D. Cushman, Mr. S. Kaplan and Mr. R. Snee.


On behalf of Irish Shipping and American Ex­port Isbrandtsen Lines we have pleasure in acknowledging the wonderful assistance extended us for this special “Savannah” visit by Commander A. J. O’Brien Twohig. Harbour Master, and to his staff. Captains Lawless, Roche and Walsh—and his secretary, Miss Betty Flattery. We must also acknowledge the helpful co-operation of Captain Kirk of the Department of Transport & Power; Chief Superintendent McMahon, Garda Siochana; Mr. J. Mulcahy, C.I.E.; Mr. D. O'Herlihy, De­partment of Posts and Telegraphs; Mr. T. O'Brien. Chief Fire Officer; Mr. P. Murphy and Mr. W. Cotter, Department of Defence; Mr. John Walker. Port Medical Officer; Mr. C. Buckley, Chief Engineer, Dublin Port & Docks Board, and Rev. Brother J. O’Connor, Artane.

We would like to say what a great privilege ;t was to work so closely with the charming gentle­men from the U.S. Embassy at Dublin and to thank Mr. Robert Chalker, Charge d'Affaires, and Mr. Ed. O’Connor, Commercial Attache, for so graciously harmonising their functions for this historic visit with our own.


To take a virtual tour of the Savannah as she is now please click the link below.


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