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Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
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This was a project intended to provide three (correction, four) atomic powered high speed container ships for use on Essential Foreign Trade Route No. 12, between the U.S. Atlantic Coast and the Far East. The ships would have used the AEC Maritime Reactor, a clean sheet gas-cooled reactor design providing a 100,000 horsepower (initially intended to be General Electric's 630-A (Mark III)), in turning giving a top speed of at least 30 knots. (Westinghouse and Babcock & Wilcox also submitted PWR reactor designs for the project.) Ship design was being worked on by John J. McMullen Associates. Each ship would have had a 800,000 cubic foot capacity, carrying up to 1,500 containers apiece. Unfortunately, the project died in Congress, at least in part due to opposition by the Democratic Party and their Union allies to the likely use of non-union crews on future civilian nuclear powered ships. What little sources I have on the project at the moment are below.


I've also found another source which seems to imply that Admiral Rickover may have been deliberately impeding the advent of atomic merchantmen and the like in the late 1960s, even for use in supporting the United States' efforts in Southeast Asia, in order to husband finite reactor production capacity:
 
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Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
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During the last part of the project, the Atomic Energy Commission began dragging it's feet on the development of the Maritime Reactor, probably for the reason I have already alluded to, i.e. Rickover was trying to ring fence more reactor capacity for the Navy. It was at this time that Westinghouse and Babcock & Wilcox submitted their alternate Pressurised Water Reactor designs, albeit at a lower shaft horsepower than the Maritime Reactor. As of 1966, General Electric had additionally submitted their 630-A Mark V proposal, and Combustion Engineering (C-E) had also apparently submitted a gas-cooled reactor design, both at or near the planned 100,000 shaft horsepower.

Another interesting thing is at least two other shipping companies, both under the umbrella of the Committee of American Steamship Lines (CASL), seriously studied prior to 1967 atomic powered LASH type barge ships in co-operation with the Maritime Administration. They were Prudential Lines and the Pacific Far East Line Inc., and the Sea Barge division of Lykes Bros. Steamship Co.. The designs in this case would have had 35,0000 shaft horsepower, suggesting at least a common reactor design, likely a Boiling Water Reactor. In the event they went with conventional powered LASH designs built under Maritime Administration contracts, partly for cost reasons but also because of delays in civilian ship reactor development that again were likely mostly down to Admiral Rickover's efforts to reserve increasingly under pressure reactor design and production resources for the Navy.
 
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