The civil nuclear industry was not prepared to support the ship. In addition to fuel economy, nuclear-powered ships go approximately 50% faster than oil ships of the same size. For the shipping industry, the increase in the number of operations per year and the increase in profits seem to more than offset the increased operating costs of nuclear energy, according to an analysis by researchers at Penn State. Which brings me to the real problem with the nuclear-powered merchant ship.
Reactor Officers Are Scarce, and the Laws of Supply and Demand Mean They Aren't Cheap. It takes them years to learn their trade, starting, starting, mind, with that degree in physics. And nuclear navies, whether Russian, Chinese, American, French, Indian or British, cling to their reactor officers, fearing that they might decide that running a power plant and coming home to see family every day is better than going to sea, and I get news that in some of those nuclear navies, Los Reactor officers are lured back to the sea with movie star salaries until they are sixty. Marine nuclear propulsion is the propulsion of a ship or submarine with heat provided by a nuclear reactor.
The power plant heats the water to produce steam for a turbine that is used to turn the ship's propeller through a gearbox or through an electrical generator and engine. Nuclear propulsion is mainly used in naval warships, such as nuclear submarines and supercarriers. A small number of experimental civilian nuclear craft have been built. I seem to recall a proposal from many years ago to adapt robot-controlled electric kites to existing cargo ships.
That said, it seems to me that the easiest fuels for ships are probably powdered metals: they have the space and bunkerage to modernize and powdered metal can easily be mass-converted back into metallic powder, ready to oxidize again from surplus grid energy. Wind and solar energy feel clean, and nuclear energy feel dirty and dangerous, which is unfortunate because people act on emotions rather than facts and reason. Nuclear power, even the rather stupid design that exploded in Chernobyl, causes far less disease and environmental damage, even in its stupid and enriched pressurized water pump form, and even*INCLUDING* all the mishaps and foolishness of hasty development, without the security caused by trying to find ideas guessed deadlines while working on the first efforts of several reactor designs. In addition to political and safety concerns (realistic or not), problems with maintenance, accident problems (imagine a nuclear-powered vessel sinking in a fishing zone), technology transfer and cost mean that this is not a start.
Not much when considering power requirements, but engine warm-up will decrease, so you may be able to make the engine much smaller in comparison, which will be important in things like a car, submarine, or warhead, but on container ships, the size and weight of the electric motor it's not really a problem like they are today. People are going to be as interested in the unmanned nuclear merchant ship as they are in the unmanned civil aircraft. Both the United States and Russia have nuclear reactors that have fallen to the bottom of the ocean without harmful effects and have been there, harmless for many decades. Obviously, they should fully adopt the protocols and procedures of the Nuclear Navy, they have worked so well for so long, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.
The following are ships that are or were in commercial or civil use and have nuclear marine propulsion. Or put more simply, assuming a random shipping time of three weeks for a container ship from China to the U.S. In the US, a 50% speed increase would reduce that time by a full week. IMO is considering a range of long-term carbonless fuel solutions, such as ammonia and hydrogen, but it is nuclear power that holds the most promise in terms of fuel cost and efficiency.
The Soviet icebreaker Lenin was the world's first nuclear-powered surface vessel in 1959 and remained in service for 30 years (new reactors were installed in 1970). Rickover, the design, development and production of marine nuclear propulsion plants began in the United States in the 1940s. Instead, the reactor together with a steam turbine could replace the building-sized diesel engine on container ships, such as the Wärtsilä RT-Flex96c, with a height of 13.5 meters and a length of 26.5 meters. .