NS Otto Hahn

The German-built NS Otto Hahn is one of only three 
nuclear powered cargo vessels ever built (the others are the NS Savannah and the Russian container ship Sevmorput).  Configured to carry passengers and ore, the NS Otto Hahn was powered by a single 38 MW reactor which first achieved criticality in 1968.  The Otto Hahn made its first port call in Casablanca in 1970 and continued to operate under nuclear power until 1979.  In nine years, the Otto Hahn steamed 650,000 nautical miles and visited 33 ports in 22 countries. 

The NS Otto Hahn was deactivated in 1979 and between 1979 and 1982, her nuclear propulsion equipment was removed and replaced with standard marine diesels.  In 1983, the NS Otto Hahn was recomissioned as the contained ship MS Trophy and leased into commercial marine service.  The ship was subsequently renamed MS Norasia Susan (1983), MS Norasia Helga (1985), MS Hua Kang He (1989) and MS Madre. 

NS Otto Hahn Timeline

1960 Planning begins for a German-built, trade and research vessel to test the feasibility of nuclear power in civil service.
1963 Keel is laid for the NS Otto Hahn
1964 NS Otto Hahn is launched by its namesake, Dr. Otto Hahn
1968 NS Otto Hahn's reactor first reaches criticality.
1968 October - sea trails begin and NS Otto Hahn is certified for commercial freight transport and research.
1970 NS Otto Hahn makes first port of call in Casablanca
1972 First reactor refueling for NS Otto Hahn.  First reactor core operated for 4 years, traveling approximately 250,000 nautical miles while consuming 22 kilograms of Uranium 235.
1979 NS Otto Hahn deactivated.  In nine years, the Otto Hahn traveled 650,000 nautical miles, visiting 33 ports in 22 countries.
1979-1982 Removal and disposal of NS Otto Hahn reactor core and propulsion equipment.
1982 NS Otto Hahn converted from ore carrier to container ship with marine diesel drive.
1983 NS Otto Hahn renamed MS Trophy.  Sea trials with new diesel propulsion units begin.
1983 Chartered service as MS Norasia Susan
1985 Chartered service as MS Norasia Helga
1989 Chartered services as MS Hua Kang He working for a shipping company head quartered in Shanghai.
Chartered Services as MS Madre

NS Otto Hahn Technical Specifications

Overall length 172.05 meters
Width 23.40 meters
Freeboard 5.33 meters
Displacement 25,790 tons
Load carrying capacity 14,040 tons
Waterproof compartments 14
Loading spaces 6
Crew 63
Research personnel 35 max
Top speed 17 knots
Reactor 38 MW
Reactor volume 35 m³
Design pressure/temperature 85 kp/cm² - 300°C
Builders German & Babcock Wilcox Dampfkesselwerke AG and INTERCAtom

Dr. Otto Hahn (1879-1968) 

In 1938, Otto Hahn repeated Fermi's experiments of bombarding uranium with neutrons.  Hahn and co-worker Fritz Strassmann discovered three isotopes of barium had been produced.  This was incredible because the mass of barium is about half of uranium and no known reaction could explain such a huge change.  Hahn, a chemist, could not offer an explanation.  He wrote to Lise Meitner, his longtime collaborator, describing his findings and asking "Perhaps you can suggest some fantastic explanation," which she explained as nuclear fission. Nevertheless, despite the contributions of Strassmann and Meitner, it was Hahn who was awarded the 1945 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery.  Unfortunately, Hahn was not at the awards ceremony to receive his prize. At the time he learned of the award, he was being held by the British who were seeking information from him about the failed German effort to develop an atomic bomb. As the chairman of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry reported "Professor Hahn has informed us that he is regrettably unable to attend this ceremony." 
NS Otto Hahn in 1979 before decomissioning
NS Otto Hahn in 1979 before decomissioning.
NS Otto Hahn Reactor Control Room
NS Otto Hahn Reactor Control Room.

German language article about the NS Otto Hahn 
and its conversion to the MS Trophy.
[Click thumbnails for larger image.]
NS Otto Hahn - Article Page 1NS Otto Hahn - Article Page 2
NS Otto Hahn - Article Page 3NS Otto Hahn - Article Page 4
NS Otto Hahn - Article Page 5NS Otto Hahn - Article Page 6

NS Otto Hahn in Hamburg
NS Otto Hahn in Hamburg

NS Otto Hahn Schematic

1.  Bow section, anchor chain storage 8  Offsite area
2.  Cargo space N° 1  9  Reactor containment area and reactor 
3.  Cargo space N° 2 10  Engine room.  Aft superstructure including living spaces, conference rooms and hospital ward
4.  Auxiliary machine room.   Forward superstructure and bridge. 11  Auxiliary boiler area 
5.  Cargo space N° 3  12  Cargo space N° 5
6.  Cargo space N° 4 13  Cargo space N° 6
7.  Service room 14  Rudder engine room, water storage tanks

NS Otto Hahn

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