The path not taken.
- Oct 9, 2009
- Reaction score
1. Nuclear-Powered Research Submarine (Figure 16)
The Department of the Interior expressed interest in nuclear-powered
research submarines. The vessels would be used jointly by the Bureau of Mines
and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries
wants a vehicle capable of tracking schools of fish for considerable distances
at relatively high speeds, to ascertain migratory habits. The Bureau of Mines
wants to be able to observe, photograph, and map deposits, to recover samples
from the ocean floor, and to drill core-sampling holes of at least 1000 ft in
Plans for a vehicle are still fluid; but, in general, it should be ~150 to
200 ft long, and powered by a 2500- to 3000-hp nuclear power plant. It should
provide for direct ingress and egress by SCUBA divers. It would have a 1000-
ft depth capability, and should provide for a technical staff of 1 0 to 12, as well
as the ship's crew necessary for a few weeks at sea. Most significantly, it
should be able to remain resting on the ocean floor for periods up to 2 to 3
weeks, while drilling test holes in deposits.
Nuclear propulsion for submarines satisfies the requirements for long
range and underwater endurance. Current nuclear power plants used in submarines
meet these requirements; however, they are quite large, heavy, and
costly for research vessel uses. The correlation between size and cost has
led to the consideration of small submarines for research.
The COMPACT power plant would be uniquely adaptable to power a vehicle
of this type, and possesses many advantages for this application -which are not
attainable in other power systems. The low specific weights of the COMPACT
hermetically sealed power system, combined with its capability for generation
of electrical power, makes possible the design of a research submarine that
will meet the requirements of size, range, and endurance desired by the
Department of the Interior. Since the requirements for performance of the
small research submarine are very similar to those of drone sonar, it will be
possible to use a "standardized" COMPACT power module for both applications.