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The fossil-fueled fleet will not long sail the world’s oceans. Routinely, a Naval task force must refuel its smaller ships (cruisers, destroyers and frigates) every 3-to 5-days. If they were nuclear powered, it would be every 25- t0 33-years! The time savings alone in refueling at sea would convince most ship captains of the wisdom of nuclear power at sea. The time is now ripe to begin weaning the United States Navy from oil fire propulsion because it is a rapidly declining and finite fuel. The US Congress has already put language in the 2008 budget for the military in the category of destroyers and cruisers must be nuclear powered in the future. The Senate has yet to agree to such a dramatic proposal, but when ships begin to crowd anchorages due to a lack of fuel, I am certain they will see the value of change. Currently the citizens of the United States are about to pay $20-25 billion in fuel costs to maintain its military in its current operational tempo. The Navy spends $5 billion annually to see that its ships rule the seas- just for the fuel alone.
The US Navy is no stranger to nuclear-powered surface combatants and there was even a commercial venture that built the Savannah, a nuclear-powered cargo ship. The Savannah was actually somewhat of a commercial failure, yet the warships were ahead of their time, and a match for any ships in their class. However, in 2007, with the exceptions of the US Navy’s nuclear attack (SSN); ballistic missile (SSBN; and guided missile (SSGN) submarines and its Nimitz/Enterprise (CVN-21) super carriers; there are no other nuclear powered warships in the American Navy.
Originally posted by kaiheitain
Keep in mind that a nuclear power ship can run at full speed at all time, whereas a conventional ship has to cruise. Conventional ships can actually have problems keeping up with nuclear powered-aircraft carriers.
Nuclear powered ships also don't need foreign imports of fuel.
It kind of seems like a no brainier, I just don’t know how much more a nuke boat will coast over an oil burner and how long it will take for the money you save on fuel to offset the cost of going nuke if ever.
Would you need a bigger crew on a nuke boat, and what about training and certification? I would imagine it will take a little more skill to be an engineer on a nuke boat versus a conventional one.
a) Integrated Nuclear Power Systems- It is the policy of the United States to construct the major combatant vessels of the strike forces of the United States Navy, including all new classes of such vessels, with integrated nuclear power systems.
(b) Requirement to Request Nuclear Vessels- If a request is submitted to Congress in the budget for a fiscal year for construction of a new class of major combatant vessel for the strike forces of the United States, the request shall be for such a vessel with an integrated nuclear power system, unless the Secretary of Defense submits with the request a notification to Congress that the inclusion of an integrated nuclear power system in such vessel is not in the national interest.
(c) Definitions- In this section:
(1) MAJOR COMBATANT VESSELS OF THE STRIKE FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY- The term `major combatant vessels of the strike forces of the United States Navy' means the following:
(B) Aircraft carriers.
(C) Cruisers, battleships, or other large surface combatants whose primary mission includes protection of carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups, and vessels comprising a sea base.
(2) INTEGRATED NUCLEAR POWER SYSTEM- The term `integrated nuclear power system' means a ship engineering system that uses a naval nuclear reactor as its energy source and generates sufficient electric energy to provide power to the ship's electrical loads, including its combat systems and propulsion motors.
Originally posted by xmotex
Thanks for the correction, for some reason I thought it was destroyers and up.
Originally posted by xmotex
Well I believe the DDX's are already set to use the "electric ship" concept.
Additionally they can be made quite quiet compared to direct-drive, an additional advantage for any ship engaging in ASW missions.
Also, a nuclear powered surface vessel in a Burke-sized hull is not that hard to imagine. Bainbridge (CGN-25) was 100 tons lighter than her CODOG powered Burke-class namesake (DDG-96) is.
DDG-96 is not CODOG powered. She is strictly Gas Turbine.
Originally posted by oxillini
In a less concrete sense, one also has to consider that a nuke surface ship is likely a more desirable target to any enemy, regardless of that vessel's size. A nuclear ship sinking would be a PR boon to an enemy and must never be allowed to occur. So, now you have a nuke cruiser designed to escort and protect a nuke aircraft carrier. You still need a large contingency of conventional destroyers, right? Meanwhile, a parallel design for a conventionally powered cruiser is going on to fill the ballistic missile defense role?
Originally posted by xmotex
It appears CGN(X) will be closer to a traditional cruiser, in displacement and hull form. The last cruiser the US built on a traditional "cruiser hull" was CGN-9 Long Beach, launched in 1959, also the first of the nuclear cruisers.
Sticker shock on these huge ships was overwhelmed by the arguments in favor of nuclear power that enamored the surface Navy, it was the guided missile. The 17,525-ton full load Long Beach was armed with two twin Terrier missile launchers forward; a Talos missile launcher aft; a single Regulus missile amidships; six 21-in torpedo tubes; and ASROC for ASW. Soon after the Long Beach put to sea, it was noticed that a small missile or torpedo boat could sink the cruiser because the Long Beach had no guns to ward off small craft. Accordingly, two WWII era 5-in/.38-cal guns were added amidships to deal with small craft. As the ship aged, its armament was improved to include 20mm Phalanx CIWS; two quad Harpoon anti-ship missile batteries and more modern SAM batteries. The Regulus missile was quickly removed as it was obsolete when installed aboard the cruiser. However, the march of Technology was too fast for the Long Beach, and as its systems were hard wired, there was little opportunity to incorporate AGEIS and other modern technological advances. She was decommissioned on 1 May 1995, and inactivated though the nuclear recycling program in Bremerton, Washington.