The Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Shippingport, Pa., the first full-scale nuclear power generating station in the United States, began operating in 1957.
Serving as the world’s first scalable nuclear power plant, Shippingport Atomic Power Station led the way for today’s nuclear generation fleet. Shippingport was centrally located roughly 25 miles from Pittsburgh, Pa., to provide electrical generation for many end-users. Shippingport also served as an experimental reactor that allowed engineers and designers the ability to test different core designs, and as such, the site housed additional testing equipment otherwise not commonly seen. The primary goal of Shippingport was always to generate electricity; however, its ability to function as an experimental reactor served utilities in further development of scalable nuclear generation.
America’s nuclear navy presently has 86 nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers. All of them, and their predecessors over the last 60 years, have performed flawlessly, protecting America as well as their crews. Here, the nuclear submarine USS Seawolf leads the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the conventionally powered Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Oonami DD 111 during exercises in 2009. (Photo: United States Navy)
Just this last April, President Biden officially commissioned the USS Delaware, a new Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, the 18th built in that class and the eighth and final Block III Virginia-class submarine. (The Delaware was administratively commissioned in April 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused delay of the ceremony for two years.)
The USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
The Naval Academy ANS student section, with support from the Washington, D.C., local section, held its semiannual dinner on March 29 in Annapolis, Md. The event was attended by more than 100 people, including midshipmen, professors from the U.S. Naval Academy, local ANS members, and ANS President Steve Nesbit.
The evening’s program was hosted by the student chapter president, Midshipman First Class Sara Perkins, and was headlined by the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, Rear Admiral (retired) Samuel Cox.
The author of a recent biography of Vice Admiral Dennis Wilkinson, the first commanding officer of the first nuclear-powered submarine, shares her recollections of him over their 33-year friendship.
Dennis Wilkinson would have celebrated his 100th birthday on August 10, 2018. The life and career of the man who captained the first nuclear-powered submarine and the first nuclear-powered surface ship and was the first president and chief executive officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) have been captured in Ann Winters’s book, Underway on Nuclear Power: The Man Behind the Words, Eugene P. “Dennis” Wilkinson, Vice Admiral USN.
Because of his inherent drive, Wilkinson was often called a cowboy, maverick, visionary, innovator, and superb leader. As the first commanding officer of USS Nautilus, he was a major player in revolutionizing underwater warfare. Nautilus and its crew were immensely popular, at home and abroad, and in the 1950s became what we now call “rock stars.” Nautilus gave nuclear power celebrity status at a time when the United States and the world were grappling with Cold War issues.