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Old December 19th, 2010, 12:22 PM
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Default Nuclear powered cruise ships

Just a thought. With the known fact that energy prices will continue to rise. At what point will it become cost effective to use nuclear power to run a cruise ship?
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Old December 19th, 2010, 12:40 PM
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Don't think it would be a good idea off of the Somalian coast...
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Old December 19th, 2010, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jlauntz View Post
Just a thought. With the known fact that energy prices will continue to rise. At what point will it become cost effective to use nuclear power to run a cruise ship?
While I for one would have no problem sailing on a nuke powered cruise ship, you will see a lot of people freak out over the idea. Here in the US we can't even get enough nuclear power plants going to cut back on coal and fossil fuel use. People think nuclear and they still want to scream Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
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Old December 19th, 2010, 02:39 PM
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Please don't think I am piling on, but my career was as both a Navy nuclear propulsion plant operator and then a radiation protection manager at a commercial nuclear power plant. I'm just offering some insights...

To answer the question: cruise ships will never be nuclear powered. Beyond the public perceptions by so many, there are more practical reasons for it not happening.

The costs for design and construction would be high enough to kill the idea, but the maintenance and operation costs would also be significantly higher than any increased operating costs as a result of oil price increases.

It takes a great deal of initial training and then refresher training to maintain a qualified staff of nuclear plant operators. A minimum of 2 years of training and you need a reactor simulator to do that at too. It is pretty much a standard requirement for SROs (senior reactor operators) to have a B.S. degree. Many of the other support positions require at least an A.S. degree. There is a pipeline of new people constantly being trained to fill vacancies in the Navy and at commercial reactor facilities - as people retire, quit, or their enlistments are over. The cruise lines would have to have a similar training program or risk having to remove a ship from service because they didin't have enough people qualified to staff the reactor plant.

A typical land-based reactor operator makes well above $100,000 a year, plus the support staff for chemistry, radiological protection, and maintenance, make almost as much. Multiply all those salaries by the number of people you'd need to staff around-the-clock shifts and you get into some serious money. You see, when you shut down a reactor you just can't walk away from it. It needs at least a handful of people sitting in the control room 24/7 as long as their is fuel in the core.

The ships would have to be licensed, which would be a problem since most are foreign-flagged and therefore the U.S. NRC wouldn't have oversight. Would anyone want to board a ship with a reactor approved by Liberia?

Ship-based reactors are small because they have more highly enriched cores than do commercial reactors. Think 'weapons grade uranium' here. The Navy didn't go to reactors on submarines and aircraft carriers for monetary savings. They did it for strategic and tactical reasons.

Commercial reactors are physically large and use fuel which only has 1 to 3% enrichment. They are more cost-effective because we can run them at 100% power 24/7 for an entire fuel cycle (18 to 24 months) before we have to shut down and refuel. That is a lot of coal or fuel oil equivalent.

Sorry for being so long-winded!
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Old December 19th, 2010, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Beers View Post
It takes a great deal of initial training and then refresher training to maintain a qualified staff of nuclear plant operators. A minimum of 2 years of training and you need a reactor simulator to do that at too. It is pretty much a standard requirement for SROs (senior reactor operators) to have a B.S. degree. Many of the other support positions require at least an A.S. degree. There is a pipeline of new people constantly being trained to fill vacancies in the Navy and at commercial reactor facilities - as people retire, quit, or their enlistments are over. The cruise lines would have to have a similar training program or risk having to remove a ship from service because they didn't have enough people qualified to staff the reactor plant.
Heck Dave they could just pick up some ex Russian and Ukrainian navy people and pay them $30,000/year and add $10 to the gratuities for added compensation.

It would be easy to retrofit the power plants. Just buy a few from some decommissioned Russian Carriers and submarines and get some enriched Uranium from Kim Jong Ilk and they'd be ready to go. Simple!

Just don't tell people what happens if they want to remove their tips from their account.

They just wouldn't be able to sail or stop in any U.S. ports.

Take care,
Mike (With tongue firmly planted in cheek)
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Old December 19th, 2010, 07:00 PM
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Maybe John Heald could calm the passengers when there was a "little" leak of radioactive coolant and they suddenly saw radiation protection personnel in yellow coveralls and respirators in the atrium, taking air samples and doing radiation surveys. "Pay no mind to those chaps! They are rehearsing for the big show tonight, in the Palace Theater! See you there! Now, if I could ask everyone to kindly join me on the pool deck..."
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Old December 19th, 2010, 10:17 PM
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I don't even want to think of the security that would be necessary. In addition to a passport, now everyone would need a background check? Would we have a do no cruise list?

On a side note, I do understand Ukraine is going to open Chernobyl as a tourist attraction.
You will soon be able to visit beautiful, breezy Chernobyl
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Old December 19th, 2010, 10:55 PM
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I would assume that some of the technical problems you mention could become less daunting as time goes on and the technology advances, as it is specifically adapted for non-military use. But I would be concerned about security. Security on cruise ships is possibly not the best in any event.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 10:04 AM
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I'd like to nominate this set of messages as "Thread of the Year". All in favor say..."glow in the dark".
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Old December 20th, 2010, 10:23 AM
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I just made this the "Thread of the Day" on the front page.

I knew Dave would come in to give us his expert advice on this, and I am really glad he did.

The truth is that this topic comes up a LOT when in the company of cruise line executives. I have seen Micky Arison roll his eyes and say "No, we are not think about any nuclear cruise ships........."

I would think that even if they could get the cost down the insurance and the cost of security to protect the vessel from people who want that super enriched fuel would be astronomical.

Basically - you need a crew of people who have signed contracts saying they will not sue if they die in the line of duty, and they are armed and willing to fight off invaders who may attack. Not too many Romanian waiters or Indonesian room stewards fall into that category, I'm guessing.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 02:58 PM
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I forgot to mention other problems, such as issuing dosimetry to the crew and the very real need for routine contamination and radiation surveys to be performed in the public areas - mostly done to have records for the inevitable lawsuits when a passenger develops cancer and says it was because of the cruise ship's reactor leaking. It happens a lot in the commercial nuclear industry - lawsuits not cancers. TVA has it's own lawyers permanently assigned to the nuclear division just to fend off cancer lawsuits.

But wait, there's more! They'd also need an emergency plan in case of a reactor accident, and maintain a supply of KI (potassium iodide) to issue to everyone should there be an accident. This loads up the thyroid so it wouldn't retain the highly radioactive I-131 which would be released.

If people think Carnival got a lot of bad press when the Splendor lost it's diesel power, just imagine the video of a nuclear-powered cruise ship adrift in the Atlantic with a damaged reactor venting radioactive gases out the stack.

Now, despite all of this the Russians do (or did at least recently) have a nuclear-powered icebreaker that accepted passengers for adventure cruises in the Arctic. I'm not sure what type of waivers people need to sign, and I assume the operators are government employees.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 06:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7x57 View Post
I'd like to nominate this set of messages as "Thread of the Year". All in favor say..."glow in the dark".
I'm in.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 06:40 PM
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That's right - the Russian "Nukuler" Icebreaker is still service as far as I know.
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Old December 21st, 2010, 09:09 AM
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I'm a nuke worker too and agree with everthing David Beers said. It'll never happen.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 04:33 PM
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The Russians sould really develope this idea. There are many people (myself included) who would like to go on a nuclear icebreaker!!


This is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_powered_icebreaker



Arctic tourism

"Yamal", August 2001 Since 1989 the nuclear powered icebreakers have also been used for tourist purposes carrying passengers to the North Pole. Each participant pays up to US$ 25,000 for a cruise lasting three weeks. The NS Sibir was used for the first two tourist cruises in 1989 and 1990. In 1991 and 1992, the tourist trips to the North Pole were undertaken by NS Sovyetski Soyuz. During the summer of 1993 the NS Yamal was used for three tourist expeditions in the Arctic. The NS Yamal has a separate accommodation section for tourists. The NS 50 Let Pobedy contains an accommodation deck customised for tourists.

Quark Expeditions has chartered the nuclear-powered icebreaker "50 Years of Victory" for expeditions to the North Pole in 2008. The vessel's maiden voyage to the North Pole embarked in Murmansk, on June 24, 2008. The ship carried 128 guests in 64 cabins in 5 categories. "50 Years of Victory" completed a total of 3 expeditions to the North Pole in 2008 for the polar adventure company.

Last edited by gkbii; December 22nd, 2010 at 04:48 PM.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 04:53 PM
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Here is some information about nuclear voyages

50 Years of Victory - the largest nuclear-powered icebreaker in the world | Quark Expeditions


Ship Information - The Most Powerful Icebreaker in the World

The only way to get to the North Pole in safety, comfort and style is aboard a specially equipped ship - and have we got a ship for you! 50 Years of Victory is the largest nuclear-powered icebreaker ever launched, capable of crushing through the toughest pack ice the Arctic Ocean can dish up.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 06:52 PM
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so Homer Simpson would be the Godfather of the very first nuclear cruise ship
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Beers View Post
I forgot to mention other problems, such as issuing dosimetry to the crew and the very real need for routine contamination and radiation surveys to be performed in the public areas - mostly done to have records for the inevitable lawsuits when a passenger develops cancer and says it was because of the cruise ship's reactor leaking. It happens a lot in the commercial nuclear industry - lawsuits not cancers. TVA has it's own lawyers permanently assigned to the nuclear division just to fend off cancer lawsuits.

But wait, there's more! They'd also need an emergency plan in case of a reactor accident, and maintain a supply of KI (potassium iodide) to issue to everyone should there be an accident. This loads up the thyroid so it wouldn't retain the highly radioactive I-131 which would be released.

If people think Carnival got a lot of bad press when the Splendor lost it's diesel power, just imagine the video of a nuclear-powered cruise ship adrift in the Atlantic with a damaged reactor venting radioactive gases out the stack.

Now, despite all of this the Russians do (or did at least recently) have a nuclear-powered icebreaker that accepted passengers for adventure cruises in the Arctic. I'm not sure what type of waivers people need to sign, and I assume the operators are government employees.
Dave:

Thanks for the info, very informative. I would also suggest that the emergency plan you mentioned would also have to be developed for all the ports the ships would visit. I know where I live we have Emergency Evac routes from the Nuclear Plant about 25 miles away.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by venice View Post
so Homer Simpson would be the Godfather of the very first nuclear cruise ship
Christening would be a bottle of Duff instead of a magnum of champagne

doh!

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