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....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!