posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 03:50 PM
Yeah, to add to what Fred said, there's the simple fact that nuclear power's benefits become more attractive as size(and therefore fuel consumption)
For cruisers and destroyers, they can pretty good range on their gas turbines, as the gas turbine design itself is incredibly efficient, the turbine
has no "steam cycle" it powers the shaft more or less directly. So you can accelerate nice and quick, makes handling very nice.
For nuke power(or old "steam" power) you've got a huge steam cycle based around heating water to run your turbines. So you need a very large, bulky
system which is actually very inefficient(but of course doesn't run out of fuel). For smaller vessels, where space is at a premium, it simply would
not provide the same return on investment.
Also, gas turbines are much easier in terms of maintenance, and that's even when you ignore the radiation issues. Gas turbines are almost "plug and
play" if there's a power failure, you pull into port and just swap it. For a steam cycle, I really wish I could show you some of the engineering
diagrams I have seen, but trust me it is beyond belief due to mechanical complexity(lots of moving parts).
Oh, and gas turbines switch on faster. Nukes require a huge warming up period once they've been shut down, while a gas turbine is literally a flip of
the switch and you're off.