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NS Savannah Collection, 1959-1971

Manuscript Collection #1022

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: NS Savannah Collection
Creator: United States Coast Guard.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Thirty items (ca. 1959-1971), consisting of photographic prints with captions, one note, and one newspaper clipping, concerning the launch and retirement of the NS SAVANNAH which was the first nuclear powered merchant vessel.
Extent: 0.505 Cubic feet, 1 box, photographic prints and printed materials

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

February 2, 2005, 24 items, 0.02 cubic feet; Collection (1959 - 1971) relating to the launching and retirement of NS SAVANNAH, the first nuclear merchant vessel commissioned after marine inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard, including photographic prints and captions, notes, and clippings (No. 265-59 [Set of 22] Photo series 072259-01 - 072259-22). See preliminary inventory attached. Donor: Robert M. Browning, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard

February 14, 2006, 1 item, 0.001 cubic feet; Photographic print (ca. 1959) of the NS SAVANNAH, the first nuclear merchant vessel commissioned after marine inspection by the U. S. Coast Guard, including a caption and cut-away view of her nuclear power plant. Black & white. See preliminary inventory attached. Donor: Robert M. Browning, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard

November 5, 2012, (unprocessed addition 2) 5 items, 0.005 cubic feet; Included are five photographs of the NS Savannah taken while the nuclear-powered merchant vessel was at the Coast Guard Reserve Training Center in Yorktown, VA, during February 1962. Four of the photographs are official Coast Guard photographs taken on February 2nd and the fifth photograph is a Polaroid shot taken from the USCG Cutter Cuyahoga. Donor: Robert M. Browning, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Preferred Citation

NS Savannah Collection (#1022), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Robert M. Browning, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard

Processing Information

  • Encoded by Lindsay Flood April 2008

  • Processed by Adam Nye April 2006


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The NS SAVANNAH was the world’s first nuclear powered merchant vessel. Construction began in 1956 in Camden, New Jersey by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation. The vessel was part of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative and was a joint project between the Maritime Administration of the Department of Commerce and the Atomic Energy Commission. The ship was christened by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower on July 21, 1959, and was launched on March 23, 1962. The NS SAVANNAH was in service from March 1962 until October 1971.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Included in the collection are black and white photographs of the July 21, 1959 christening ceremony and related participants. These photographs feature the ship’s starboard bow, port bow, and propeller, as well as honorable guests such as Secretary of Commerce Fredrick H. Mueller, Harry W. Pierce and Edward E. Teale of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Senator Oren Harris of Arkansas, Senator Herbert C. Bonner of North Carolina, and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. Also included is another black and white photograph of the ship that includes the dimensions of the ship and a cutaway view of the nuclear power plant. The two non-photograph items consist of one handwritten note and one newspaper clipping. The note is from the Great Lakes and Inland Waterways, and contains information pertaining to the Coast Guard’s connection to the atomic merchant ship and who built the ship. The note also contains information about the cost, length, height, weight, occupancy and maximum speed of the vessel. The newspaper clipping is from The Evening Star (Washington, DC, 10/29/1971) and discusses the retirement and eventual fate of the ship. For more details, see container list. Note: The U.S. Coast Guard’s original photo number is included on the list.

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

  • Box 1#1022.1
    • Folder a#1022.1.a
      • Close up of starboard bow of NS SAVANNAH. Photo series: 072259-01 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; undated  (item #1)
      • Propeller and rudder of NS SAVANNAH. Photo series: 072259-02 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #2)
      • Close up of port bow of NS SAVANNAH. Photo series: 072259-03 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #3)
      • Secretary of Commerce Frederick H. Mueller (facing camera). Photo series: 072259-04 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #4)
      • Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower being escorted by Mr. Louis Wolfson to ceremonial rail. Merchant Marine Academy honor guard render salute, as MMA band plays at left. Photo series: 072259-05 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #5)
      • Secretary of Commerce Frederick H. Mueller being interviewed by news representative as Mr. Harry W. Pierce, of New York Shipbuilding Corp. stands by. Photo series: 072259-06 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #6)
      • Overall view of ceremonial rail and audience. Photo series: 072259-07 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #7)
      • Overall view of crowd showing Mrs. Eisenhower (front row, seated second from left) Photo series: 072259-08 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #8)
      • Mr. Edward E. Teale, President of New York Shipbuilding Corp., at speaker's stand. Photo series: 072259-09 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #9)
      • Secretary of Commerce Frederick H. Mueller at speaker's stand. Photo series: 072259-10 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #10)
      • Master of Ceremonies Mr. Harry W. Pierce, Vice Chairman of the Board, New York Shipbuilding Corp., at speaker's stand. Photo series: 072259-11 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #11)
      • Honorable Herbert C. Bonner of North Carolina, Chairman, House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee at speaker's stand. Photo series: 072259-12 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #12)
      • Honorable Oren Harris of Arkansas, Chairman, House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee at speaker's stand. Photo series: 072259-13 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #13)
      • Presentation of sponsor. Mr. Louis E. Wolfson, Chairman of the Board, New York Shipbuilding Corp., at speaker's stand. Photo series: 072259-14 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #14)
      • Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mr. Louis E. Wolfson (her escort) at speaker's stand. Photo series: 072259-15 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #15)
      • Mrs. Eisenhower and escort on christening platform. Photo series: 072259-16 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #16)
      • Mrs. Eisenhower and escort accompanied by Mr. & Mrs. Edward L. Teale on christening platform. Photo series: 072259-17 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #17)
      • Mrs. Eisenhower and escort flanked by Mr. & Mrs. Edward L. Teale on christening platform. Photo series: 072259-18 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #18)
      • Mrs. Eisenhower christening the NS SAVANNAH. Photo series: 072259-19 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #19)
      • Mrs. Eisenhower stands back as NS SAVANAH starts to slide down ways. Photo series: 072259-20 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #20)
      • NS SAVANNAH sliding down ways. Photo series: 072259-21 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #21)
      • NS SAVANNAH sliding down ways. Photo series: 072259-22 and caption. 1 item. 2 p.; 7/21/1959  (item #22)
      • Photographic print (ca. 1959) of NS SAVANNAH, the first nuclear merchant vessel commissioned after marine inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard, including a caption and cutaway view of her nuclear power plant. Black and white. 1 item. 1 p.   (item #23)
      • Note on NS SAVANNAH from Great Lakes and Inland Waterways, Dec. 1957, p. 3. (n.d.) 1 item 1 p.  (item #24)
      • Clipping: "Savannah to be Museum: First Nuclear Merchant Ship Retired," The Evening Star, [Washington, DC] (10/29/1971) 1 item. 1 p.  (item #25)
    • Folder b#1022.1.b
      4 official photographs (2/2/1962) of NS Savannah at the Coast Guard Reserve Training Center in Yorktown, Va. Polaroid shot of sailors' families aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Cuyahoga bidding farewell to the NS Savannah at Yorktown, Va.

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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