The U.S. Navy is retiring its last
non-nuclear carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk, and cutting its overall annual fuel bill
by two percent. The Kitty Hawk used about thirty million gallons of fuel oil a
year. That cost the navy about $64 million, at current prices (which are
expected to keep going up sharply). This is why the U.S. recently decided to
build future large warships with nuclear power.
power on destroyers and cruisers also provides additional electrical power for
new, energy intensive weapons, like the rail gun. Then there is the ability to
move at high speed for extended periods, and the need for far fewer supply
ships (most of which traditionally carry fuel.) In the past, the additional
cost of a nuclear power plant (half a billion dollars or more) and the
difficulty in recruiting the brainiacs needed to run the things, worked against
nuclear power for anything but carriers and subs. But with the rising price of
oil, and the falling price of nuke plants (due to new technology and decades of
experience), it now makes economic sense to go nuclear, and eventually deploy
all nuclear carrier task forces.