A 20th Century "Savannah" Honors Her 19th Century Namesake
In the revised edition of his Famous American Ships (1978), Frank Braynard recounts how the first nuclear-powered merchant ship, N.S. Savannah, was named for her pioneering ancestor. The new ship had been authorized by President Eisenhower as a peacetime use of atomic energy. At that time Mr. Braynard was leading an unsuccessful search for remains of the original Savannah off the south coast of Long Island, hoping to find a remnant that could be displayed in the new ship that would be named for that earlier example of marine innovation. After President Eisenhower endorsed the name, Mr. Braynard persuaded New York Shipbuilding Co. of Camden, New Jersey, to lay her keel on National Maritime Day, May 22, the original Savannah's departure date chosen by Congress in 1933 to commemorate her unique achievement in the annals of maritime history.
In December, 2016, the Long Island Advance newspaper described an effort by an amateur archaeologist to find remnants of the Savannah. In 2012 Superstorm Sandy had re-opened an inlet that had closed more than a century earlier near where the ship was thought to have foundered. A few pieces of wood were found, but without proof that they were from the Savannah.
N.S. Savannah was funded by the U.S. Government and launched in 1959. A sleekly handsome ship, she was never expected to be commercially competitive, according to an authoritative Wikipedia article, and was in service for only ten years, from 1962 to 1972. A plan to convert her to a hotel on the Savannah waterfront was never realized, nor did she succeed as a museum ship at Charleston -- two cities which figure importantly in the history of the original Savannah.
She has been docked at Baltimore's Canton Marine Terminal since 2008 under the jurisdiction of the Maritime Administration. As a National Historic Landmark she is kept in "protective storage." On National Maritime Day 2015 she was open to the public, welcoming two thousand visitors.
The N/S Savannah Association maintains a website and welcomes support for its efforts to preserve the ship as a museum when she is ultimately released by the Maritime Administration.