CVN-65 USS Enterprise



CVA(N)-66: dp. 86,600 (f.) 1. 1101', b. 133'; ew. 252';
dr. 36'; s. 30+ k.; cpl. 4,600; cl. Enterprise)

A bottle of champagne shattered on the bow of the awesome new warship, USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), breaking the silence of an anxious crowd at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, Va. It was Saturday morning, Sept. 24, 1960, when Mrs. William B. Franke, wife of former Secretary of the Navy, christened the eighth USS ENTERPRISE, bringing to life the longest, tallest and mightiest warship to ever sail the seas.

At the commissioning of ENTERPRISE, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally, Jr., called it a worthy successor to the highly decorated seventh USS ENTERPRISE of World War II. "The Fighting Gray Lady, as it was called, served in such well-known battles as the raid on Tokyo and the Battle of Midway." Secretary Connally went on to say, "The new ENTERPRISE will reign a long, long time as queen of the seas."

ENTERPRISE made its maiden voyage under the command of Capt. Vincent P. DePoix, Jan. 12, 1962, conducting a three-month shakedown cruise.

In August, ENTERPRISE joined the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Soon after its return to Norfolk, Va., in October, ENTERPRISE was dispatched to its first international crisis.

ENTERPRISE and other ships in the Second Fleet set up a "strict quarantine of all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba." The blockade was put in place on Oct. 24, and the first Soviet ship was stopped the next day. On Oct. 28, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles and dismantle the missile bases in Cuba.

ENTERPRISE made its second and third deployments to the Mediterranean in 1963 and 1964. During the latter deployment, on May 13, the world's first nuclear-powered task force was formed when USS LONG BEACH and USS BAINBRIDGE joined ENTERPRISE. On July 31, the three ships were designated Task Force One and sent on "Operation Sea Orbit," a historic 30,565-mile voyage around the world, accomplished without a single refueling or replenishment.

In October, ENTERPRISE returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for its first refueling and overhaul.

The Big E transferred to the Pacific's Seventh Fleet in November 1965 and became the first nuclear-powered ship to engage in combat when it launched bomb-laden aircraft in a projection of power against the Viet Cong on Dec. 2, 1965. Its hot decks launched 125 sorties on the first day, unleashing 167 tons of bombs and rockets on the enemy's supply lines. The next day it set a record of 165 strike sorties in a single day.

In all, ENTERPRISE made six combat deployments to Southeast Asia from 1965 to 1972. Between combat tours, ENTERPRISE returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in 1970 for an overhaul and second refueling.

Following the 1973 cease-fire in Vietnam, ENTERPRISE proceeded to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., where "Big E" was altered and refitted to support the Navy's newest fighter aircraft -- the F-14A "Tomcat."

When ENTERPRISE made its seventh Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment in September 1974, it became the first carrier to deploy with the new F-14 Tomcat fighter plane. During the deployment, in February 1975, ENTERPRISE was called on to help in the evacuation of Saigon. During Operation Frequent Wind, "Big E" aircraft flew 95 sorties.

The ship made its eighth and ninth WESTPACs in July 1976 and April 1978, respectively. It sailed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in January 1979 for a 30-month comprehensive overhaul.

ENTERPRISE made its 10th, 11th, and 12th WESTPACs in 1982, 1984 and 1986, respectively. In April of the 1986 deployment, ENTERPRISE became the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal. It then entered the Mediterranean for the first time in 22 years.

In April 1988, ENTERPRISE, on its 13th deployment, was assigned to escort reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Persian Gulf while stationed in the North Arabian Sea. In a measured response, ENTERPRISE and Carrier Air Wing 11 struck a decisive blow to the Iranian navy in the most intensely fought naval battle since the Korean campaign.

ENTERPRISE began its 14th overseas deployment in September 1989. In early December, ENTERPRISE participated in "Operation Classic Resolve," President Bush's response to Philippine President Corazon Aquino's request for air support during the rebel coup attempt. ENTERPRISE remained on station conducting flight operations in the waters outside Manila Bay.

In March 1990, ENTERPRISE completed its highly successful around-the-world deployment by arriving in Norfolk, Va. ENTERPRISE had successfully and safely steamed more than 43,000 miles from its long-time homeport of Alameda, Calif. In October, ENTERPRISE moved to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for refueling and the Navy's largest complex overhaul ever attempted.

Work began in earnest in January 1991. While specially trained shipyard workers refueled the ship's eight nuclear reactors, crewmen and more shipyard workers began overhauling the carrier's 3,500 compartments. ENTERPRISE completed its overhaul, the most extensive in U.S. Naval history, on Sept. 27, 1994. Sea trials began, during which ENTERPRISE performed an extended full power run as fast as when it was new, remaining the fastest combatant in the world. The ship then returned to its homeport in Norfolk, Va.

In mid-January 1995, "Big E" returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for a five month Selected Restricted Availability. The yard period involved upgrades to all of the combat and communications systems, intelligence suites, command and control capabilities, ventilation systems, berthing and dining areas, and underway replenishment equipment. "Big E" departed Newport News in July and returned to Norfolk Naval Base, from which the ship has conducted operations to the Carribean Sea and participated in the highly successful Joint Task Force '96 Exercise with a British task group. ENTERPRISE completed its 15th overseas deployment in December 1996, with operations conducted throughout the Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Gulf, and Red Sea. During this deployment Enterprise made the fastest transist ever conducted from off of Bosnia to the Persian Gulf in support of strikes against Iraq. This transit took less than 6 days and resulted in peace being restored to the region. "Big E" returned to its homeport of Norfolk on December 20th, 1996, to a joyous holiday reunion with family and friends.

In January 1997 Big "E" returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for a six month Selected Restricted Availability. The focus of the yard period was habitability upgrades and various combat systems. The ship completed carrier qualifications and work-ups in 1998 before deploying to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf in November. On December 16, 1998, the Enterprise Battle Group with Carrier Air Wing THREE (CVW 3) initiated Operation Desert Fox, launching more than 300 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 691,000 pounds of ordnance against military targets in Iraq. Shortly after Desert Fox, Big E sailed to the Adriatic Sea for possible military intervention in the Yugoslavian province of Kosovo. Before returning to Norfolk May 6, 1999, Enterprise made another appearance in the Arabian Gulf, striking several Iraqi military targets in response to hostile action.

Enterprise began its 17th overseas deployment on 25 April 2001, with Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8). In addition to Enterprise and its embarked air wing, the ships of the battle group included guided missile cruisers USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and USS Gettysburg (CG 64); guided missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55), USS McFaul (DDG 74) and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66); destroyers USS Nicholson (DD 982) and USS Thorn (DD 988); guided missile frigate USS Nicholas (FFG 47); logistics ship USS Arctic (AOE 8); and attack submarines USS Providence (SSN 719) and USS Jacksonville (SSN 699).

During the early part of the 2001 deployment, Enterprise and four Enterprise Battle Group ships participated in the Joint Maritime Course 01-2 (JMC 01-2), a British Royal Navy joint and combined warfare training exercise, 18 through 28 June 2001 in the North Sea near the Hebrides Islands, as well as land and airspace around Scotland.

On 11 September 2001, Enterprise was just beginning her voyage home from the Arabian Gulf. Watching a U.S. morning news show live, although locally in the early evening, the crew saw the terrorist attacks by the al Qaeda terrorist network against New York's World Trade Center and on the Pentagon. Immediately, Enterprise turned around and headed back to the waters off Southwest Asia. On 7 October 2001, the U.S. launched air attacks against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and Taliban military installations in Afghanistan. The carefully-targeted actions were designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.

For approximately the next three weeks, aircraft from Enterprise flew nearly 700 missions in Afghanistan and dropped hundred of thousands of pounds of ordnance. Departing from Southwest Asia in late October, Enterprise arrived back at its homeport of Norfolk, Va., on 10 November 2001, about two weeks later than originally planned. During its last day at sea, the ship played host to the ABC Television Network's Good Morning America for a live two-hour broadcast of the program from the ship.

On 7 January 2002, Enterprise entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a scheduled one-year Extended Docking Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA).

Sep 2003 to Feb 2004 the ship was deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In Jun-July 2004, the ship participated in Summer Surge 2004

In 2005 the Enterprise entered Newport News sipyards for a routine overhaul. on leaving the yard she ran onto a sand bar and was disabled for a number of hours. The Enterprise deplyed in 2005 and 6 including to the Persian Gulf.
In 2008 the Enterprise and 18 month docking where $655 million was spent on her refitting what was by now the oldest US Navy active ship. In April 2010 the Enterprise returned to service. She undertook two last deployments to the Persian Gulf

On December 1 2012 the Enterprise was decommissioned.