TIL The USS Pennsylvania has been in commission since 1989 and has been powered by a single piece of uranium the size of a fist ever since.

TIL The USS Pennsylvania has been in commission since 1989 and has been powered by a single piece...

She was refueled in 2012, and is a Ballistic Missile submarine (SSBN), not an attack sub (SSN).


Video is down in america, and the formatting of that site is aids.

Super Smash Brother Nelee

Of course OP is incorrect. All of our nuclear ships get refueled around the 25 year mark.

SOURCE: Was actually in nuclear navy

Just comes to show how viable nuclear energy is

It is very possible. It is called reprocessing. We used to do it until President Jimmy Carter banned the process.

We would have more if we recycled the spent fuel.

OP may be incorrect, the wiki states:

In 2012, Pennsylvania completed a mid-life 2-1/2 year Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where her reactor was refueled for an estimated 25 more years of service.


I'm sorry. This is the youtube video. I wasn't sure if I could use a youtube video as the URL or if it was against the rules for some reason. I just got finished watching the documentary and quickly searched online for the fact I heard from it.

I'm skeptical of the amount of uranium. Source?

it almost sounds like the demon core.

Not true, Fast Attacks don’t. The cores last the life of the ship.

SOURCE: me too

I was wondering what the hell was going on. It was like reading an epic poem about being on a boomer, I kinda liked that.

That's for commercial nuclear plants, which isn't the same for submarine based nuclear power. The process to make fuel rods for the S8G power plant is still classified. But without giving away the process, if you took all the uranium in one pile it wouldn't be a whole lot. Source: Me, ex navy nuke who served on the USS Nebraska, a sister ship of the USS Pennsylvania.

Yeah we solved the world's energy problem in the 1940s. nuclear energy could power the world forever. greenpeace made sure big oil stays in business.

Depends on how old. My boat has a life of the ship core. Older ones built before the 80's had to be refueled.

Is that the one with Commander Hawk?

Couldn't find any definitive sources, but 4kg is the amount given most places.

That would be 4kg of >90% enriched Uranium, so 3.6kg of U235.

At 83.14 TJ/kg, that's about 300TJ of stored energy, which is the equivalent of 8.4 million liters of diesel.

We also have thorium which is much more abundant

Uranium is actually a pretty abundant element- it's not that there are 230 years of uranium left, it's that there are 230 years of proven reserves. That doesn't mean we'll run out of uranium in 230 years, it means we could stop doing any mineral prospecting today and we could last for 230 years before we had to go looking for more.

In contrast, there are only about 10 years of proven reserves of oil, about 26 years of proven reserves of natural gas, and about 100 years of proven reserves of coal (all types). Both oil and natural gas are in relatively short supply, while coal is abundant but horribly dirty. If we were able to magically convert our entire energy infrastructure to nuclear overnight, we'd still have decades of proven reserves and every reason to think that a lot more would be available if we looked for it.

In the (very) long term, uranium is far more abundant that either of those three fossil fuel sources. While high grade ores are the most economic, the element itself is present in parts per million in most of the earth's crust where it is technically recoverable. Even better than the earth's crust- it's present in parts per billion in regular seawater. There are projects to recover usable uranium from seawater, because even though the concentration is so low, there's so much seawater on the planet that our effective supply of uranium would be essentially limitless.

The exact dimensions/content of naval cores is classified.

Even though it's classified information, it's still a standard issue design for pressurized water reactors that hasn't changed much at all over the last half century.

Sure they leave out a lot of the smaller details, but it's not like those reactors are full of secrets or anything. The US Navy has a very long Keep-it-simple-stupid design methodology with it's reactor cores.

I mean, they have to make them so that 18 year old kids can easily operate them after all (Source: I was one of those 18 year old kids)

If anything, the thing they're trying to keep classified is how un-technologically advanced their reactors are...

Fuck Jimmy Carter. And fuck Hazel O'Leary for ending the IFR (reactor that could burn its own spent fuel) .

No, it's the one with StarDog.

Relevant xkcd

As shorthand for "United States Ship," the US Navy used the USS prefix on the hulls of various sea warships, such as aircraft carriers and ironclads, including: USS Enterprise (CV-6), USS Enterprise (CVN-65), and USS Monitor.

On Federation starships operated by Starfleet, the "USS" prefix was more prominently featured on the hull of the ship and as part of the starship's official title. USS was referred to as standing for either "United Space Ship" (TOS: "The Cage", "The Menagerie, Part I", "Space Seed", "The Gamesters of Triskelion", "Patterns of Force", "Assignment: Earth", "Elaan of Troyius") or "United Star Ship." (TOS: "The Squire of Gothos", "Court Martial") This designation was used as early as 2167 on a Daedalus-class starship, the USS Essex. (TNG: "Power Play")

In his original March 1964 Star Trek pitch (p. 3), Gene Roddenberry utilized the prefix "S.S." for his then-envisioned primary space vessel, Yorktown. While the acronym has a real world maritime counterpart signifying "Single-screw Steamship", Roddenberry refrained on that occasion from specifying the acronym, but it stands to reason he either assumed "Spaceship" or "Starship".

It was only after the series' pilot episode "The Cage" was picked up, and Roddenberry had worked out his initial pitch into the more fully worked out first version of The Star Trek guide internal document – famed in later Star Trek-lore under its "The Writer's Bible" denominator – that he amended the "S.S." to "U.S.S.", this time emphatically specifying the acronym to stand for "United Spaceship", and most certainly not for "United States Spaceship", as the old notion of traditional statehood had been abandoned in his vision of the future. (3rd revision, 17 April 1967, p. 1) Author Stephen Whitfield has related in his reference book The Making of Star Trek (p. 112) how Roddenberry had to actually mount a vigorous defense of the meaning of his new amended prefix against chauvinistic network executives who were lamenting why it could not be "a good, safe patriotic United States spaceship."

At todays rate we have about 230 years wort of uranium left so its viable as long as we dont increase our use of it dramatically.

United Star Ship

Another fun fact: With the current mix of nuclear reactors in the US, powering your house for 100 years will create 1 cubic inch of spent fuel.

That's without reprocessing and without considering the drastically better modern reactors.

This could not be more inaccurate! Reactors do not have a single piece of uranium but rather a multitude of small pellets rolled into a fuel matrix. http://www.nucleartourist.com/basics/construct.htm

I'm talking about modern reactors obviously, and nuclear energy as a whole.

Yup. Fission contains a scary amount of energy.

For comparison, less than 1 kg of uranium underwent fission in the Little Boy (Hiroshima) bomb.

“World’s Largest Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine of U.S Navy Army”

I’m guessing this article is from China.

Also, not an attack sub, and I think the Russian Typhoons are larger.

Right.. but I'm still baffled that a ship can be powered for more than a decade on 5kg of material. That's amazing. I guess it's easy to overlook how energy-dense nuclear power is.

I believe it was banned because it was too easy to isolate Pu this way. The Pu could be used to make nasty booms instead of power.

And built newer, more efficient power plants.

Also true, nice username.

«Demon core? Who is in charge of naming these things?»


Verily this site doth rock.