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The S3W reactor is a naval reactor used by the United States Navy to provide electricity generation and propulsion on warships. The S3W designation stands for:

  • S = Submarine platform
  • 3 = Third generation core designed by the contractor
  • W = Westinghouse was the contracted designer

This nuclear reactor was a variant of the Submarine Fleet Reactor (SFR), an advance on the pressurized water reactor (PWR) plant design employed on the USS Nautilus (SSN-571). The S3W plant utilized horizontal U-tube steam generators. This concept developed into vertical U-tube steam generators in the S5W reactor plant, and is in common use today on commercial PWR power plants.

The USS Halibut (SSGN-587) and the four Skate class boats were built with S3W reactors: USS Skate (SSN-578) [1], USS Swordfish (SSN-579) [2], USS Sargo (SSN-583) [3], and USS Seadragon (SSN-584) [4]. USS Swordfish (SSN-579) [5] and USS Seadragon (SSN-584) [6] had the S3W reactor installed in the S4W reactor plant, which was an alternate arrangement of the same components.


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