Maritime industry officials see real opportunities in nuclear energy and emphasize the need for advanced nuclear technology.

“Nuclear energy has moved beyond a wildcard option and into the mainstream of potential solutions for a more sustainable maritime industry. Nuclear energy is not just about the potential for a reactor to operate on a ship. With advanced nuclear technology, the potential is so much more.”

That was the message from ABS class chairman and chief executive Christopher J. Wiernicki in an ABS forum in Washington.

In accordance with the class ABS, the conference confirmed the potential for advanced nuclear technologies in the maritime domain to provide game-changing clean energy transition safely with project implementations likely to occur in the next 10 to 12 years.

“We see nuclear energy as an enabler for producing clean energy and clean fuels and as a power source for ship propulsion,” said Wiernicki. “Modern nuclear and renewable based energy systems extend our line of sight of solutions to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Representatives from global shipyards and ship designers, nuclear technology developers, nuclear and maritime industry associations, academia and a variety of government agencies engaged in discussions in four panels moderated by ABS on technology maturity, regulatory and safety/risk considerations, maritime industry readiness, and port infrastructure readiness.

“The developmental path for nuclear energy at sea will require a concerted public-private effort in which innovation and system technologies are reduced to practice through modeling and simulation with a laser focus on safety,” said Wiernicki.

“Government support is critical. There is a real opportunity right now for forward-thinking governments to drive the agenda with practical projects by providing real applications of advanced nuclear technology in a government controlled and regulated environment. Government applications on dredges, strategic sealift vessels, ice breakers, and research vessels may be a great place to start,” he added.

At the forum, ABS announced a major new initiative on ABS Rules for nuclear technology on maritime assets, and ABS confirmed its support for government and industry efforts to update outdated international and domestic regulations on the topic.