US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District

History

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

Program Manager Hans Honerlah, Baltimore District’s Radiological Health Physics Regional Center of Expertise; Baltimore District Commander Col. Ed. Chamberlayne; and Baltimore District Project Manager Brenda Barber, project manager for the ongoing STURGIS decommissioning and dismantling work in Galveston, walk on the pier alongside the vessel during a site visit on Dec. 8, 2015.
 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, working closely with the Corps’ Galveston District, is managing the decommissioning and dismantling of the STURGIS, a former World War II Liberty Ship that was converted into the first floating nuclear power plant in the 1960s. (US Army Photo by Chris Gardner)
Personnel from Baltimore District and Galveston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discuss STURGIS decommissioning progress aboard the vessel during a site visit in Galveston Dec. 8, 2015.
 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, working closely with the Corps’ Galveston District, is managing the decommissioning and dismantling of the STURGIS, a former World War II Liberty Ship that was converted into the first floating nuclear power plant in the 1960s. (U.S. Army Photo by Chris Gardner)
The Reactor Pressure Vessel, secured in its specially designed transport casing, is loaded for delivery to its designated disposal facility. The removal of the RPV marked the removal of approximately 98 percent of the radioactivity on the STURGIS.
The Reactor Pressure Vessel is lifted from the Reactor Containment Vessel aboard the STURGIS to be placed in the specially designed container to its left for transport. The Reactor Pressure Vessel was safely transported to a disposal facility in June 2017 as part of the ongoing decommissioning of the MH-1A nuclear reactor aboard the STURGIS. The removal of the RPV means that approximately 98 percent of the radioactivity has been removed from the vessel.
Crews work to access the Reactor Containment Vessel in order to remove various large components, including the Reactor Pressure Vessel, from the STURGIS as part of ongoing decommissioning efforts.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District hosted a tour of the STURGIS June 9, 2015 in Galveston, Texas for local officials, the Coast Guard and the Port of Galveston to explain the process of how the decommissioning of the barge will be completed. The Army Corps of Engineers also gave first responders an overview of the site and reviewed safety procedures.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District hosted a tour of the STURGIS June 9, 2015 in Galveston, Texas for local officials, the Coast Guard and the Port of Galveston to explain the process of how the decommissioning of the barge will be completed. The Army Corps of Engineers also gave first responders an overview of the site and reviewed safety procedures.  (Photo by Brittany Bangert, USACE)
The STURGIS barge is situated in her slip at the Port of Galveston. Crews are now preparing her for the upcoming decommissioning work.
The STURGIS barge is situated in her slip at the Port of Galveston. Crews are now preparing her for the upcoming decommissioning work.
The STURGIS barge is situated in her slip at the Port of Galveston. Crews are now preparing her for the upcoming decommissioning work.
The STURGIS arrived in the Port of Galveston, Texas April 30, 2015.
After being towed more than 1,700 miles from Virginia, the STURGIS arrived in Galveston, Texas April 16, 2015.
Veterans of the STURGIS tour the barge.
Hans Honerlah (center), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District program manager, recognizes Army veterans Bob Shultz (left) and Charlie Harmon (right) for their service on the STURGIS.
Charlie Harmon, former STURGIS operator, explains to Hans Honerlah, Baltimore District program manager, how the vessel was operated in the Panama Canal more than 30 years ago.
This sound proof phone booth aboard the STURGIS, a former nuclear reactor barge, allowed crew members to communicate with each other more than 30 years ago.
A drawing of the Corps castle aboard the STURGIS barge, which was deactivated in 1978.
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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.