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Personnel & Training

B&W Containment Model: Toshiyuki Sakai (Japan) and Dave Freeman
While the Savannah was under construction, civilian deck and engineering personnel underwent special training for their new duties on this first commercial nuclear vessel. Engineers from other countries were included in the early training classes to promote the international advantages of the peaceful atom. In September of 1958, the first group of students (13 licensed marine engineers) began 31 weeks of lecture-room instruction at Lynchburg College, Virginia. This instruction included review courses in mathematics, physics and chemistry, and the fundamentals of nuclear technology. The second group (10 engineers) started their training seven months later. Since the latter trainees were college graduates, their classroom phase was shortened to 24 weeks.

For both groups, the theory phase of their training was followed by 30 weeks of field training under the Atomic Energy Commission at various nuclear facilities, including A1W, the Navy's Aircraft Carrier Ship Prototype reactor at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho, the Vallecitos Boiling Water Reactor, and the SM-l Argonne low-power reactor. Each engineer also underwent training on a simulator of the Savannah's control panel constructed and supplied by the Westinghouse Corporation. They were required to perform at least four start-ups and shut-downs before reporting to one of the Navy's nuclear submarines to gain watchkeeping experience at sea. Each engineer was later sent to to the New York Shipbuilding Corp. shipyard in Camden, NJ for training on Savannah herself and to assist in its test program. After the summer of 1962, engineer-trainees received their instruction at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY.

NS Savannah trainees at the SL-1 Stationary Low Power reactor in Idaho
The first class of deck officers (six licensed masters) began their special training in May 1959. They received 13 weeks of academic lectures followed by field training under the Atomic Energy Commission at land-based reactors and in nuclear submarines. Their training included less emphasis on technical subjects and more on reactor management, emergency procedures, personnel control, health physics, and damage control.










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