Student Researchers: Stephanie Smith and Caitlin Morgan
Most new large U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships would be required to be nuclear powered under the National Defense Authorization Act for 2009. Expanding the use of nuclear technology as a form of propulsion puts our sailors at risk. The vessels’ position in combat can…vary from a ‘stand-off’ over-the-horizon location to be being moored to a pier in a combat zone. “Shifting” amphibious assault ships to using nuclear power might make them potentially less welcome in the ports of countries with strong anti-nuclear sentiments and reduce the number of potentially suitable location for forward-homeporting the ships, undermining the ability to actually use them. Another issue involves nuclear proliferation. Military reactor fuel can reach 90 percent enrichment level. That is atomic bomb-grade. This could make reactor maintenance sites at U.S. bases in ports around the world a tempting target for any thief intent on making weapons-grade fuel for a bomb. A U.S. Navy website confirms that such ships are designed to get in harm’s way. If one of these amphibious ships is hit, or has an accident, we would be fighting a tide of radioactivity on beaches that could leave them contaminated indefinitely.
“Nuclear-Powered Amphibious Assault Ships?” Karl Grossman, CounterPunch 7/30/08 http://www.counterpunch.org/grossman07302008.html
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