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STURGIS Update, March 16, 2018

As part of our ongoing communications with the community regarding the STURGIS decommissioning and dismantlement project, we wanted to provide an update on the progress crews have been making in recent months as we continue into 2018.

After the early June 2017 milestone of safely removing and shipping the Reactor Pressure Vessel, which was the primary source of radiation on the STURGIS, crews have been focusing on the sectioning and removing the walls of the Primary Shield Tank. The Primary Shield Tank is what surrounded the majority of the reactor pressure vessel. Prior to Thanksgiving, the team successfully completed the sectioning, removal and safe shipment of the inner wall of the Primary Shield Tank. 

The team just recently completed the removal of the remaining outer wall of the Primary Shield Tank. This is a significant milestone, leaving the last major removal being the removal of the remaining bottom portion of the larger Reactor Containment Vessel – which is the large vessel that contained the vast majority of the nuclear elements on the STURGIS.

The team has been completing the required radiological surveys on the STURGIS to prepare for the departure from Galveston.  After all remaining radioactive materials have been removed, the team will access the remaining hull bottom tanks and other areas to complete the required surveys to allow the vessel to be released for shipbreaking.  In spite of Hurricane Harvey delays this past fall and encountering additional layers of protective lead at the bottom of the PST, we currently anticipate the STURGIS being released for departure from Galveston for final shipbreaking this summer.

Environmental monitoring has been continuous since prior to the arrival of the STURGIS in Galveston and no evidence of radioactive material, lead or increased radiation exposure from the STURGIS has been documented outside of the reactor containment area to date. As a reminder, more than 99 percent of the radioactivity from the STURGIS has now been safely removed from the vessel and transported to Waste Control Specialists disposal facility, in Andrews County, Texas without incident.

We continue to appreciate the support of our local partners and stakeholders as we implement this complex and challenging project. 


The STURGIS, a former World War II Liberty Ship, was converted into the first floating nuclear power plant in the 1960s. Before being shutdown in 1976, the STURGIS’ nuclear reactor, MH-1A, was used to generate electricity for military and civilian use in the Panama Canal. It is important to note that the MH-1A reactor has no nuclear fuel or special nuclear material. The reactor was de-fueled, decontaminated for long-term storage, and sealed before being towed to the James River Reserve Fleet at Joint Base Langley Eustis, Virginia; where it was stored and maintained since 1978, except for times of periodic dry dock maintenance.

Historical videos can be found at the following YouTube links:

1) Army Nuclear Power Program: http://youtu.be/HPWDMHH4rY4 

2) STURGIS Dockside Testing Report: http://youtu.be/frtKSiZhP68

3) STURGIS Construction Report: http://youtu.be/i7t_AtWQazM

Contact Information

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Phone: 410-962-2809
E-mail: cenab-cc@usace.army.mil

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Project Documents

Fact Sheets and Graphics

In this section you will find several fact sheets, plus informational materials that visually illustrate the project.