Good day all. An era in American military history ended last week when the USS Enterprise, CVN-65, was taken out of active service after a career that lasted 51 years.
The Enterprise was the first nuclear powered carrier in the U.S. fleet, being commissioned November 25th, 1961. Here is the story from Fox News:
The USS Enterprise1 ended its notable 51-year career during a ceremony at its home port at Naval Station Norfolk, where thousands of former crew members, ship builders and their families lined a pier to bid farewell to one of the most decorated ships in the Navy.
The Enterprise was the largest ship in the world at the time it was built, earning the nickname “Big E.” It didn’t have to carry conventional fuel tanks for propulsion, allowing it to carry twice as much aircraft fuel and ordnance than conventional carriers at the time. Using nuclear reactors also allowed the ship to set speed records and stay out to sea during a deployment without ever having to refuel, one of the times ships are most vulnerable to attack.
Today, all American carriers are nuclear powered. The Enterprise had eight Westinghouse A2W nuclear reactors. Today’s carriers, starting with the USS Nimitz2, only need two reactors to power them. The Enterprise was not only a mighty warship, but also a prototype. Much was learned during her construction which helped naval architects build more efficient power plants.
The ship served in every major conflict since participating in a blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, helping earn its motto of “We are Legend.”
In the latest conflict, Enterprise was headed back to Virginia following a regularly scheduled deployment when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks happened. As soon as the ship’s captain saw the attacks he turned around without orders to steam toward southwest Asia, where it later launched some of the first attacks against Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The ship’s captain was Adm. James A. Winnefeld, who now serves as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“She just served on the cutting edge at the tip of the spear when she returned here in November,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said. “It’s shown that the aircraft carrier can evolve as a platform with many payloads relevant for five decades and will be part of our national security for the foreseeable future as we bring on the Gerald Ford to replace the Enterprise.”
With the retirement of the Enterprise, the United States will only have 10 carriers available. The USS Lincoln is in drydock for a major overhaul and refueling of her reactors. The new Ford class carriers3 aren’t due to be commissioned until 2015. The Enterprise was designed to be in service for only 25 years, but with several major overhauls and SLEPs4, the Enterprise kept America safe for twice as long as her designers expected. Eventually, she became the second oldest commissioned warship in the United States fleet. (The oldest being the USS Constitution5)
There was hope that the Enterprise could be turned into a museum ship, but the only way the reactors can be removed is to basically rip the hull apart in order to get them out. This would so weaken the ship that it wouldn’t be safe to dock her permanently without extensive and expensive modifications.
While the Enterprise was inactivated Saturday, it will be several more years before it is fully decommissioned. Its nuclear fuel must first be removed by punching gigantic holes in the ship, rendering it unfit for service or turning it into a museum. It will eventually be towed to Washington state for scrapping.
So what will happen to the vaunted name “Enterprise?” will we have to wait until they build a starship and designate her NX-016? Thankfully, no.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was the eighth U.S. ship to bear the name Enterprise, but it won’t be the last. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a video message that a future aircraft carrier would be named USS Enterprise, after the delivery of the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS John F. Kennedy.
Mabus’ announcement drew a standing ovation from those on hand at Saturday’s ceremony. Current and former crew members have lobbied heavily to preserve Enterprise’s name so its legacy will live on.
“It just seems to be a neat name for a ship. It’s better than being named for a politician,” said Larry Kosnopfal, one of the ship’s original crew members, who now lives in Chadfield, Minnesota.
I recall some discussions about naming either the Ford or Kennedy as Enterprise, but the decisions had already bee, made and set in stone. It will be a few years before the new Enterprise is launched. However, this won’t be the first time there was a delay between the decommissioning of one Enterprise and the commissioning of her successor. The first carrier to bear the name “Enterprise”7 was decommissioned in 1947 after serving honorably in some of the biggest naval battles in World War Two. The “Big E” wasn’t commissioned until 14 years later.
The Enterprise was a great ship and she will be missed in the fleet. I suspect that a large amount of her hull will be recycled into the new Enterprise8 when she is laid down sometime in 2018.
Raise a glass to this fine ship and to all those her served on her.
~The Angry Webmaster~
Rogue Gunner: USS Enterprise Inactivated
- USS ENTERPRISE [↩]
- USS Nimitz [↩]
- USS Gerald R. Ford [↩]
- Service Life Extension Program [↩]
- Old Ironsides [↩]
- Enterprise (NX-01) [↩]
- USS Enterprise (CV-6) [↩]
- USS Enterprise (CVN-80) [↩]
The End of an Era – #angercentralarchives http://t.co/j899IxaBy8
The End of an Era – #angercentralarchives http://t.co/TvIPzK3Nyq
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