Tomorrow, 11 March 2012, the storied USS Enterprise (CVN-65) will leave home port to ply the world’s oceans for the 22nd, and last time. As she is about to head toward Middle Eastern waters, the Associated Press published a nice piece about her, and the challenges that her crew of 4,000 face in keeping a ship that is older than most of their parents operating and ready.

Since SWMBO reminded me how expensive picture books were to print, I figured I would take advantage of this newfangled internet thing to post some pictures of the Big E, and relate some things about her 52 years in service. A good deal of these pictures will come from familiar places, such as, and DANFS, as well as some others included from various spots.

Enterprise under construction in Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, 1960

Christening, September 24th, 1960

Enterprise in original configuration, perhaps on sea trials, with no embarked air wing. She reportedly exceeded 40 knots.

It is staggering to think of a ship 52 years in commission. How long is that? Here are some facts about Enterprise and her history:

The sitting Secretary of the Navy, William B. Franke, whose wife christened CVAN-65, had been born in 1894. He lived to be 85, and still died 33 years ago.

Enterprise’s first CO, Captain Vincent P. de Poix, Annapolis ’39, had been a World War II aviator, and is still with us at 95!

In February of 1962, Enterprise stood by to assist with the recovery of the first American to orbit the Earth, LtCol John Glenn, USMC, in Mercury 6.

Enterprise was a part of the Second Fleet force that established the “Naval quarantine” of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October, 1962.

Iconic photo of Enterprise (CVAN-65), Long Beach (CGN-9 next to starboard), and Bainbridge (DLGN-25) during 30,000 mile unrefueled global circumnavigation, June, 1964 (Operation SEA ORBIT)

Enterprise was the first nuclear powered warship ever to operate in a combat zone, off Vietnam, December, 1965.

Enterprise remains the longest warship ever to put to sea at 1,102 feet, 2 inches.

On May 24th, 2011, a Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet of VFA-11 made arrested landing number 400,000 on Enterprise.

When Enterprise joined the fleet in October of 1961, she was one of 24 carriers, and the only nuclear-powered carrier, in a Navy of 870 ships. Today she is one of 11 nuclear-powered carriers in a Navy of 285 ships.

Flames on aft flight deck from fire that killed 28 Sailors and destroyed fifteen aircraft, 14 January 1969

Enterprise after 1979-82 modernization at Puget Sound

Enterprise deployed to Vietnam six times, Operation SOUTHERN WATCH three times, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM four times (about to be five), and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM three times. Her CO, Captain William Hamilton, was not yet three years old when Enterprise was commissioned, her XO would not be born for another five years.

Enterprise celebrates her 50th, November 2011

Best of luck to all the Officers and Sailors who crew this venerable old warship. She carries a glorious name proudly. One day you can tell your grandchildren you sailed on her. When you return, she will pass from the Navy list and into history.

But perhaps her name can live on with CVN-80. There always should be an Enterprise in the US Navy.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Aviation, Books, From our Archive, Hard Power, History, Marine Corps, Maritime Security, Naval Institute, Navy, Proceedings

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Well done, old girl!

    On the very day of my birth, my Dad was off the Coast of California doing CQ’s on her.

  • Richard s. miller

    God speed for ships personnel. Thank you for being a great
    symbol of freedom and peace to all the world for 50+ years.
    Fair winds and following seas to all hands.

    Richard S. Miller
    Newport News Shipbuilding Co. 1967-1971/ Machinest

  • Petition to name the CVN-80 the USS Enterprise.

  • i was on the Big E during the blockade. went down on the fighting I,(independence) transferd at sea to the Big E and stayed with heruntil she went to the west coast. i was in attack squd 64 the world famous black lancers. myself and my buddies will greatly miss the ENTERPRISE.perhaps the best years of our lives were spent on the ship. i got out in 66, at that time i was on the uss AMERICA cva66. for all who served on the ENTERPRISE,stand proud.we will surely miss her. mulleavey ams3.

  • Byron

    May there always be a ship in the United States Navy called ENTERPRISE!!!!

  • Kathy Vines

    Awesome story on the Big E! So glad to get to read this, and see the old pictures.

  • She may yet have an opportunity to make history again on this deployment, but I hope it passes quietly with no casualties.

    She, and her crews, have served her country well.

  • brainy435

    My sub (USS Miami SSN 755) was part of her convoy in the gulf in late 90s. We got a kick out of one of our ELTs coming back off a tour of the Big E with a patch that read Mobile Chernoybl, which I understand what the Nukes called her.

  • William Todd

    My favorite memory of Enterprise comes from 1975. My boat, Thomas Jefferson (SSBN-618) tied up across the pier from Enterprise at NAS Alameda. We took them on, they backed off.

    More seriously, there should always be an Enterprise, Hornet, Ranger, Constellation, America, Bunker Hill, etc., etc., etc. in the US Navy.

    Enough said.

  • Paul P

    Definitely needs to be always an Enterprise in the fleet. The second picture of this post brought up a question I’ve always had. I know the “horns” on the front of older carriers are bridle catchers for the cables used for launching certain types of aircraft, but how do they work? They just look like ramps where the used bridles would just slide off into the ocean.

  • Cdr. Robert C. Hulse

    A very large BRAVO ZULU to a great ship and all of the men who gave of their life to put life into a fighting lady. Having had the opportunity to fly off of the deck of Enterprise I know what a thrill and awsome experience it was to have peen a part of her crew and past history.

  • Nick

    Godspeed Enterprise! As you sail today, you have the best wishes of the nation that you have defended for half a century.

    I can only hope that when President Obama and the Navy brass attend her decommissioning ceremony in December that they give the Big E one last fitting honor- that her name will live on in the form of CVN-80, the 9th warship of the United States Navy to have the name!

  • Byron

    Maybe they can salvage the stern plate of the Big E, the only piece of that awesome ship that didn’t get cut to scrap. It’s in a park in a town in New Jersey (I forget where, I saw the picture in Barrett Tillmans, “Enterprise)

  • Duke

    Fair winds and following seas to a great lady, and a proud holder of a proud name!

    Byron- The Ship’s Bell of CV-6 is on the grounds of the Academy, in front of Bancroft Hall. Definitely worth a stop on the tour.

  • William Falls

    I’m A proud Plank Owner of this great ship. Took it out on its first maiden cruise and will be going on board in Mayport bring it home for the final time… What a HONOR…. Bill Falls SHC RET.

  • PK

    i was standing shore patrol in Olongapo The Phillipines in the mid sixties and one of the lads that we took into custody was complaining that he was off of Enterprise and they had been at sea for 138 days (he claimed it to be a record), so we loaded him in the buss with the rest of the drunks and dropped him off at the foot of the gangway with the admonition of “get some sleep”.


  • Lt. John Underwood

    A proud time landing and takingoff the Great Lady off the shores of VietNam. 1965 May the Enterprise live on in the halls and Fleets of the U.S. Navy.

    • Baguilar

      johnProudhon this is why u are wonderful

  • Bill Lange

    I was in VAW-12 serving as flight crewman/CIC radar operator flying off the Enterprise during the Cuban Missle crisis. Our squadron flew the WF-2’s (also known as Wllie Fudds) and provided “eye in the sky/air intercept” capabilities for the carrier and the aircraft assigned to the carrier. We typically flew at 5,000 ft., and our radar scanned a radius of 250 miles and sensitive enought to pick up sub snorkels. For those who may feel the Cuban Missle crisis was just a small dust up with the Russians, I can tell you, first hand, that in the hours before the Ruskies finally blinked, we had A4 Skyhawks on each of the 4 catapaults armed with large olive drab nukes. Each Skyhawk was guarded by 4 marines with fixed bayonets on their rifles. There was a marine at the nose, tail, and each wingtip of each of the A4’s. John McCain was an A4 pilot on that deployment (FYI). I’d sure like to be at the de-commissioning, but havn’t seen a firm date set yet. Can anyone help with the actual date?

  • Aero Ninja

    I read years ago that one of the portholes from CV-6 Enterprise was re-used on CVN-65 Enterprise (below the flight deck, at the bow, if I remember correctly).

  • William Falls

    It was just a few years back as a young sailor i took the BIG E to sea on its maiden voyage out of Newport News Va. Its just a matter of time now that i will be heading for Mayport Fla. and board her and bring the great lady home to Norfolk Va. for her final voyage. What a honor. God bless the US NAVY. Retired SHC William Falls

    • My father Joseph T Austin, was on the maiden voyage. Sadly he passed away in 1981, My family and I will be in Norfolk for the decommioning. We weill arrive Friday, Leave Sunday

  • oes anyone know when the Enterprise will be in mayport FLA.? i`d to make the last voyge on her.spent the cuan crises on here as well as the World cruise.i got uot in is it possiable ? help me here,i`m gonna live forever.

  • Charles Abbott

    I was on the Big E from 1974 to 1977 went places and done things I’ll never forget. I saddens me to know she’ll be sold for scrap!!! I just wish I could have boarded her one more time. She will be missed !!!!!