well, it’s been used in military vessels so far; there’s no real reason other than safety and trust that restrain us from using nuclear reactors in cargo ships for fueling. If civilian run cargo ships use nuclear power, then that opens up access to nuclear fuel rods which can potentially be used for weapons to civilians. This could then lead to terrorism with nuclear weapons as it is pretty positive that some fuel would go missing if there was access.
I disagree with jaksongitr. There is a reason why only four nuclear powered cargo ships have ever been built, and why only one of those (the Sevmorput, a Russian icebreaker) is still in operation: they’re not very economical. Sure, the fuel economy of a nuclear cargo ship is unsurpassed, but their cargo capacity is diminished, their crews are expensive to hire because they need specialized nuclear training, and they are limited in the number of ports they can dock in because so many ports have designated themselves “nuclear-free.” With all these strikes against them, nuclear cargo ships are bound to be economic failures, as the Savannah, the first one to be built, was in the 1960s.
The previous answer brings up a good point about the security concerns with nuclear fuel rods, which is not a concern with naval vessels because of tighter security. However, this factor also illustrates why nuclear cargo ships won’t cut it economically: the increased cost of security, as well as the costs of dealing with the fuel rods once they’re spent and any other nuclear waste that is generated. The savings that a shipping company might realize in fuel would probably be outweighed by these significant personnel and infrastructure costs. I don’t see a lot of shipping companies wanting to sign up for these drawbacks.
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