Nuclear Ship Savannah, launched on 1959-07-21, was the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship. It was funded by the U.S. government as part of the “Atoms for Peace” project as a demonstration of the use of nuclear power in maritime commerce. The ship was in service between 1962 and 1972, and was one of the only four nuclear powered merchant ships ever built to date. Of the four, only the Sevmorput, launched by the Soviet Union in 1986, remains in service today. Here is a photo of the Sevmorput I took in 2008.
The reactor that powered the Savannah, unlike those used by naval nuclear powered submarines and surface ships, was fueled with reactor grade (less than 4.6% U-235) uranium. The ship had a cargo capacity of 14,040 tons and 60 passengers. The ship was subsequently converted to an all-cargo configuration in 1965.
The ship was named after SS Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, which was also a commercial failure.