THE ATOM: Symbol at Sea

Fresh and buoyant in a blue print dress and matching turban, Mamie Eisenhower took a few practice swings, baseball-style, then smashed a champagne bottle frothily on the looming bow, pronouncing the traditional formula: "I christen thee N.S. [for nuclear ship] Savannah.* Godspeed." After a second's hesitation, America's first nuclear-powered merchant vessel slid easily down the ways at Camden, N.J. and into the waters of the Delaware.

The white, yachtlike ship with its teardrop superstructure is largely President Eisenhower's dream boat. Following up his atoms-for-peace plan, he proposed in 1955 that an existing ship be equipped with an atomic power plant....

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