The N.S. Savannah was the first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship, built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden, New Jersey. The 74 maximum-power thermal megawatt pressurized-water reactor was supplied by the Babcock & Wilcox Company. Nearly 600 feet long with 22,000-tons displacement, the ship at top speed surged along at 24 knots, with more than 22,300 shaft horsepower to a single propeller. A joint venture by the U.S. Maritime Administration and the Atomic Energy Commission to the design of George G. Sharp Inc.
The Hanford B-Reactor was the first plutonium production reactor to be placed in operation. Its success made possible the subsequent development of atomic energy. The research work, engineering, and planning required to make the reactor operate is one of our most advanced achievements. Much of the reactor core, cooling system, shielding, and auxiliary systems were designed by mechanical engineers.
In the first nine months of operation, the B reactor produced fissionable plutonium for the world's first atomic bomb (the Trinity test on July 16, 1945), and for the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945, killing 35,000 people. This, and similar destruction at Hiroshima caused by the atomic bomb dropped three days earlier, hastened the end of World War II.