[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 8 (Wednesday, January 13, 2021)]
[Pages 2730-2732]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-00527]



Maritime Administration

[Docket No. MARAD-2020-0133]

Collecting Proposals for Future Use of the Historic Vessel NS 

AGENCY: Maritime Administration, Department of Transportation.

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Maritime Administration (MARAD) plans to provide for the 
use or disposition of the historic vessel, the Nuclear Ship NS 
Savannah, once decommissioning of the ship's nuclear reactor is 
completed. Due to the vessel's historic importance and the requirements 
of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), MARAD is publishing 
this notice to solicit the public's views regarding MARAD's proposed 
uses for the Savannah and provide the public the opportunity to submit 
any alternative uses.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 15, 2021. MARAD 
will consider comments filed after this date to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by DOT Docket Number 
MARAD-2020-0133 by any one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Search MARAD-2020-0133 and follow the instructions 
for submitting comments.
     Email: [email protected]. Include MARAD-2020-0133 
in the subject line of the message and provide your comments in the 
body of the email or as an attachment.
     Mail or Hand Delivery: Docket Management Facility is in 
the West Building, Ground Floor of the U.S. Department of 
Transportation. The Docket Management Facility location address is: 
U.S. Department of Transportation, MARAD-2020-0133, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE, West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 
a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays.
    Note: If you mail or hand-deliver your comments, we recommend that 
you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a 
telephone number in the body of your

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document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your 
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and specific docket number. All comments received will be posted 
without change to the docket at www.regulations.gov, including any 
personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting 
comments, see the section entitled Public Participation.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erhard W. Koehler, (202) 680-2066 or 
via email at [email protected]. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above 
individual during business hours. The FIRS is available twenty-four 
hours a day, seven days a week, to leave a message or question. You 
will receive a reply during normal business hours. You may send mail to 
Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, Office of Chief 
Counsel, Division of Legislation and Regulations, W24-220, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.



    Built in 1959, the NS Savannah was the world's first nuclear-
powered commercial vessel and served as a signature element of 
President Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace program. While in service, the 
Savannah demonstrated the peaceful use of atomic power as well as the 
feasibility of nuclear-powered merchant vessels. The vessel was retired 
from active service in 1970 and was registered as a National Historic 
Landmark in 1991. MARAD has already defueled the nuclear reactor of the 
Savannah and, as part of the decommissioning process for the vessel, is 
removing the remaining systems, structures, and components that were 
part of the ship's nuclear power plant. The Savannah is currently part 
of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) in retention status; once 
the nuclear power plant is fully decommissioned, MARAD is anticipating 
future uses for the un-powered vessel pursuant to one of several 
options allowed by law. Disposition will be guided by all law 
applicable to the selection process and dispositional alternative 
    These future uses may constitute an undertaking under Section 106 
of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (54 U.S.C. 300101 et 
seq.). The historic preservation review process mandated by Section 106 
of the Act is outlined in 36 CFR part 800 ``Protection of Historic 
Properties'' issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. 
Pursuant to 36 CFR part 800.2(d)(2), agencies must provide the public 
with information about an undertaking and its effects on historic 
properties and seek public comment and input. In light of this 
obligation, comments received will inform MARAD's review of the options 
described in this notice and allow commenters an opportunity to present 
alternatives that MARAD has not included. As such, this request for 
comments is narrowly focused on what MARAD should do with the Savannah 
once the nuclear power plant is fully decommissioned.
    Accordingly, MARAD has identified two general categories of 
options: (1) Maintaining the vessel intact or (2) dismantling the 
vessel. MARAD has an interest in preserving the Nation's maritime 
history and envisions that any options keeping the Savannah intact 
would seek to promote this interest. Should the Savannah be maintained, 
the vessel could be maintained by a member of one of three broad 
groups. First, the vessel could be controlled by an agency of the 
Federal government; second, the vessel could be controlled by an entity 
outside of the Federal government; third, the vessel could be 
controlled by a public-private partnership between members inside and 
outside of the Federal government.
    One possible outcome for retaining the Savannah would be for MARAD 
to continue its current control over the vessel but open it for 
presentation to the public as a museum ship in order to honor its 
historical importance. This option would implicate MARAD's ability to 
acquire proper funding to ensure the feasibility of such a project.
    A similar option would be for MARAD to initiate consultation with 
other Federal agencies surrounding the retention of the Savannah. 
Should the Savannah be displayed by the Federal agency, the missions 
and competencies of the agency should ideally align with MARAD's goal 
of using the Savannah to preserve and showcase America's maritime and 
nuclear history. For that reason, and for example, MARAD has considered 
entering into consultation with either the Smithsonian Institution, 
which has a substantial history of showcasing items of important 
historical value to the public, or the National Park Service within the 
Department of the Interior, which has broad experience in preserving 
and managing National Historic Landmarks through its National Park 
Service. MARAD might also provide the Savannah to a Federal agency for 
use as a maritime training platform or for other Federal purposes 
consistent with preservation of the vessel. Such consultation might 
result in agreement involving MARAD transferring the Savannah to the 
other Federal entity, where the vessel would then become a component of 
a museum system or a cooperative agreement under which MARAD would 
negotiate a division of responsibilities over the maintenance and 
operation of the vessel, with the other entity providing its expertise 
in converting the Savannah to and operating it as a museum with MARAD's 
provision of technical advice.
    If MARAD decides not to transfer the Savannah to another entity of 
the Federal government but still wishes that it be maintained due to 
its historical importance, MARAD may seek to transfer the vessel to a 
party outside of the Federal government in one of three ways.
    First, MARAD might dispose of the Savannah by donating the vessel. 
MARAD has the existing statutory authority to donate the Savannah to a 
non-profit organization, State, or subdivision of a State that can 
demonstrate a willingness and financial capacity to operate the vessel. 
Should an eligible party apply and meet these requirements, MARAD would 
then have the discretion to donate the Savannah to that applicant. 
MARAD also has the authority to, upon request, donate suitable vessels 
to State maritime academies for training uses to complement primary 
reliance on the new class of National Security Multi-mission Vessels as 
training platforms. Subject to MARAD's assurance that the recipient 
would properly preserve the vessel, the Savannah could, if found 
suitable, be thus used for training purposes if an application is made 
by a State maritime academy.
    Second, MARAD also has the authority to charter the Savannah to any 
party on the basis of competitive sealed bids. Parties wishing to 
charter the Savannah must comply with the applicable statutory 
provisions, particularly around the requirement that MARAD dismiss any 
bid that does not reach a minimum threshold.
    Third, MARAD might attempt to manage the Savannah under a public-
private partnership. Public-private partnerships can fall into two 
general categories. The first involves retention of the Savannah by an 
entity that could be created by Congress specifically to receive and 
maintain the vessel. Such an entity could include a trust, a government 
corporation, or a non-profit organization. As this option would require 
a future act of Congress to create

[[Page 2732]]

the entity in question, the entity's exact contours would need to be 
determined. Ideally, this entity would manage the Savannah in such a 
way as to be financially self-sufficient.
    The second type of public-private partnership would involve a 
contractual partnership with an outside group. MARAD might attempt to 
enter into agreements with outside groups, where the recipient group 
would operate and maintain the vessel and MARAD would provide 
    Finally, besides maintaining the Savannah intact, MARAD might 
transfer the vessel for use in a man-made reefing project or dismantle 
it. First, MARAD has the authority to transfer the Savannah to a 
requesting state or a foreign country for that state or foreign country 
to sink and use it as an artificial reef. Should MARAD grant the state 
or foreign country's application, the Savannah would be sunk and its 
remnants would be used for the conservation of marine life. The other 
permanent disposal method that MARAD could consider is to dismantle the 
ship. MARAD would enter into a contract with an approved ship recycler 
to dismantle the ship If the contract resulted in a sale of the vessel, 
any proceeds would revert to statutory programs supporting the National 
Defense Reserve Fleet, maritime education, and maritime historic 
preservation and educational programs. The options of artificial-reef 
use or dismantlement are the least favored because the National 
Historic Preservation Act strongly favors the preservation of National 
Historic Landmarks like the Savannah whenever possible. This notice 
seeks comments to inform MARAD's choice over which of these uses or 
dispositions to pursue as well as provide an opportunity for the 
suggestion of any other options that have not been mentioned. As part 
of our review, MARAD is issuing this notice to engage the public and 
the broad spectrum of stakeholders that may be affected by a given 
disposition of the Savannah. Information received will be used to 
evaluate the future of the Savannah and help to determine which option 
to pursue.

Scope of Comments

    MARAD is interested in learning the public's opinion regarding the 
future of the Savannah and which option presented, if any, is 
preferred. MARAD is also interested in hearing any unmentioned option. 
Commenters who seek to suggest new alternatives should note that at the 
highest level, MARAD's fundamental choice is to either dismantle the 
Savannah or leave it intact; however, leaving the ship intact would, by 
statute, require the vessel to be put to some other use. Accordingly, 
commentators may want to focus on the following: (1) Additional uses 
for the Savannah that MARAD has not mentioned if the ship were to be 
maintained; (2) potential owners or operators of the Savannah to carry 
out these additional uses; and (3) any additional uses for the remnants 
of the ship if the ship were to be dismantle.

Content of Comments

    We are interested in information on the public's view of the 
presented disposal options for the Savannah and any other feasible 
alternatives. If the commenter believes that there is a viable option 
that MARAD has not considered, the commenter should describe that 
option in detail.
    Under this notice, MARAD is not soliciting petitions for 

Public Participation

How do I submit comments?

    Please submit your comments, including the attachments, following 
the instructions provided under the above heading entitled ADDRESSES. 
Be advised that it may take a few hours or even days for your comment 
to be reflected on the docket. In addition, your comments must be 
written in English. We encourage you to provide concise comments and 
you may attach additional documents as necessary. There is no limit on 
the length of the attachments.
    Please note that even after the comment period has closed, MARAD 
will continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes 

Where do I go to read public comments, and find supporting information?

    Go to the docket online at http://www.regulations.gov., keyword 
search MARAD-2020-0133 or visit us in person at the Docket Management 
Facility (see ADDRESSES for hours of operation). We recommend that you 
periodically check the Docket for new submissions and supporting 

Will my comments be made available to the public?

    Yes. Be aware that your entire comment, including your personal 
identifying information, will be made publicly available.

May I submit comments confidentially?

    If you wish to submit comments under a claim of confidentiality, 
you should submit three copies of your complete submission, including 
the information you claim to be confidential business information, to 
the Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, Office of 
Legislation and Regulations, MAR-225, W24-220, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE, Washington, DC 20590. Include a cover letter setting forth with 
specificity the basis for any such claim and, if possible, a summary of 
your submission that can be made available to the public.

Privacy Act

    DOT posts comments, without edit, to www.regulations.gov, as 
described in the system of records notice, DOT/ALL-14 FDMS, accessible 
through www.dot.gov/privacy. To facilitate comment tracking and 
response, we encourage commenters to provide their name, or the name of 
their organization; however, submission of names is completely 
optional. Whether or not commenters identify themselves, all timely 
comments will be fully considered. If you wish to provide comments 
containing proprietary or confidential information, please contact the 
agency for alternate submission instructions.

(Authority: 49 CFR Sections 1.92 and 1.93)
* * * * *

    Dated: January 8, 2021.

    By Order of the Maritime Administrator.
T. Mitchell Hudson, Jr.
Secretary, Maritime Administration.
[FR Doc. 2021-00527 Filed 1-12-21; 8:45 am]