U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

“Over 170 million miles safely steamed on nuclear power” 

Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

Navy ships are deployed around the world every hour of every day to provide a credible forward presence, ready to respond on the scene wherever America's interests are threatened. Nuclear propulsion plays an essential role in this effort by providing the mobility, flexibility, and endurance that today's Navy requires to meet a growing number of missions. Approximately 45 percent of the Navy's major combatants are nuclear powered, including 11 aircraft carriers, 52 attack submarines, and 18 strategic submarines – four of which were converted to a covert, high-volume, precision strike platform designated as SSGN. 

The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, also known as Naval Reactors, includes the military and civilian personnel who design, build, operate, maintain, and manage the nuclear-powered ships and facilities that support the U.S. nuclear-powered naval fleet. The mission of the Program is to provide militarily effective nuclear propulsion plants and ensure their safe, reliable, and long-lived operation.

The organic statute for Naval Reactors, 50 United States Code Sections 2406 and 2511 (codifying Presidential Executive Order 12344), sets forth the total responsibility of Naval Reactors for all aspects of the Navy’s nuclear propulsion, including research, design, construction, testing, operations, maintenance, and ultimate disposal of naval nuclear propulsion plants. The Director, Naval Reactors, is Admiral James F. Caldwell, Jr., who also serves as a Deputy Administrator in the National Nuclear Security Administration within the Department of Energy. 

The Navy maintains its environmental responsibilities from nuclear-powered warship design to ultimate disposal. As of October 2022, the Program has safely disposed of 140 reactor compartment packages.

The Program’s procedures for protection of people and the environment meet or exceed all applicable federal, state, and local environmental health and safety laws and regulations. The Navy remains committed to this high standard.

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This is an image of crew members spelling out E=MC2 X40 on the flight deck of USS Enterprise in celebration of forty years of naval nuclear power.
This is an historical photo of jets taking off from USS Enterprise.
This is an image of USS Enterprise coming to port.