Nuclear Ship Savannah – Baltimore, Maryland - Atlas Obscura
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Baltimore, Maryland

Nuclear Ship Savannah

America's first nuclear-powered merchant ship is now a time warp to the atomic age. 

The N.S. Savannah is a nuclear-powered cargo and passenger ship, created in the 1950s to demonstrate the peaceful potential of atomic energy. It was part of a U.S. government initiative called “Atoms for Peace” under President Dwight Eisenhower.  

The decommissioned ship is now kept in Baltimore, Maryland, where it is open to the public for free tours just once a year, on the Sunday closest to National Maritime Day, in late-May each year. Exploring the retro-future ship is a fascinating glimpse at atomic age style. The engine room looks like it could be from the set of a ’60s sci-fi film, and the back rooms and corridors have vintage machinery, dials, knob, diagrams, pipes, and portholes galore.  

A hand-painted quote from President Lyndon B. Johnson above a model of the ship declares the United States’ intended purpose of the vessel, which was “to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of mankind.” It was designed to be a kind of showpiece ship, and it looks like it could be from an early James Bond film.

Guest quarters and public areas include a retro midcentury modern dining room with oddly stylish vintage seating, atomic-themed ceiling lights and dinnerware. Throughout the ship are exhibits of historical note, including books, photos, correspondence, and items commemorating the promotion of safe use of atomic energy.

Know Before You Go

Open to the public only one day a year, on the Sunday in May closest to National Maritime Day. Some areas you may be able to wander on your own, but for the best views be sure to get a free guided tour.

Free Event; Free Parking; Rain or Shine. Pier 13 in Canton.

Vessels are NOT handicap accessible. Closed-toe shoes are required for boarding all vessels.

Free parking is available on Newgate Avenue, Newkirk Street and Leland Avenue. You can walk from there, or shuttle vans for visitors run to and from parking areas to the event site. Follow posted signs.

It’s not really near anything in this industrial area, but local food trucks may be on hand for Maritime Day.

Maritime Day exhibits on the pier nearby also include radio-controlled model ships, family-friendly activities, a variety of marine demonstrations, and other ships to see including tug boats, sailing ships, military boats, Coast Guard, and fire department boats.