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SS Charles H. Cugle
SS Charles H. Cugle after conversion to nuclear barge Sturgis
SS Charles H. Cugle after conversion to nuclear barge Sturgis
Career (USA)
Name: SS Charles H. Cugle
Builder: J.A. Jones Construction, Panama City, Florida
Yard number: 105
Way number: 5
Laid down: 23 June 1945
Launched: 13 August 1945
Completed: 31 August 1945
Decommissioned: 1977
Renamed: USS Sturgis (MH-1A), 1963
Reclassified: Nuclear Barge
Fate: In storage prior to disposal
General characteristics (as built)
Class & type: Type Z-EC2-S-C5 Liberty ship
Displacement: 14,245 long tons (14,474 t)[1]
Length: 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m) o/a
417 ft 9 in (127.33 m) p/p
427 ft (130 m) w/l[1]
Beam: 57 ft (17 m)[1]
Draft: 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m)[1]
Propulsion: Two oil-fired boilers
Triple-expansion steam engine
2,500 hp (1,900 kW)
Single screw
Speed: 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)[1]
Range: 20,000 nmi (37,000 km; 23,000 mi)
Capacity: 10,856 t (10,685 long tons) deadweight (DWT)[1]
Crew: 81[1]
Armament: Stern-mounted 4 in (100 mm) deck gun for use against surfaced submarines, variety of anti-aircraft guns

SS Charles H. Cugle was a Type Z-EC2-S-C5 Liberty ship built by J.A. Jones Construction of Panama City, Florida, launched on 13 August 1945. It was ordered by the War Shipping Administration under Maritime Commission Contract number 3145.[2]

As part of the Army Nuclear Power Program the ship was transferred to the U.S. Army in March 1963, and fitted with a pressurized water reactor, fuelled by used low enriched uranium, designed by Martin Marietta, becoming the world's first floating nuclear power plant, at a cost of $17 million.[3] Now renamed USS Sturgis (MH-1A) the reactor began operation on 24 January 1967 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, generating 10 MWe of electrical power. The reactor barge was then towed to Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal Zone to provide power, owing to a lack of water for the hydroelectric plant. The ship returned to Fort Belvoir in early 1977, and the reactor deactivated and de-fueled. The ship was decontaminated, sealed, and assigned to the James River Reserve Fleet[3] for an expected 50 years of SAFSTOR.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Davies, James (2012). "Liberty Cargo Ships". p. 23. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  2. "Jones Construction, Panama City FL". 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Honerlah, Hans B.; Hearty, Brian P. (February 2002). "Characterization of the Nuclear Barge Sturgis". Retrieved 7 May 2012. 

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