Goodbye to the USS Enterprise, CVN 65 — the Big E

It is the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier in US history — and that of the world, as well.


The USS Enterprise has now completed its 25th and final deployment as a major integral portion of our Blue Water navy.  It pulled into its home port of Naval Station Norfolk, VA, on Sunday, November 4th.

Her decommissioning is part and parcel of Mr Obama’s overall military sequestration, and will assist in taking our navy down to base numbers not seen since 1918.

Some things I really shouldn’t be telling you: because of her large number of nuclear reactors, the USS Enterprise was one of the fastest ships in all of US history. Former captains used to “drag race” the ship against other smaller, lighter ships.  And win.

It was rumored that the Enterprise could actually keep up with the fastest submarine in global history, the Russian Alfa class — itself rumored to occasionally exceed 50 mph (76 kph) submerged (47 mph “officially”).  I wouldn’t know anything about this.  But perhaps I might.  Or not.

Of this there is no doubt: the USS Enterprise was the fastest ship in any CG (carrier group) assembled.  It would customarily have to slow down for the other ships in its assigned group.  She could easily outrun her escorts.

The USS Enterprise has now returned from its final deployment: at age 51.

A few notations, if I may, about the USS Enterprise:

- At 1,123 feet, the Big E is the longest naval vessel on the planet.
– She has a crew of 4,600 personnel.
– She was the only ship of her class.
– She is the second-oldest commissioned ship in the entire US Navy, after the USS Constitution.
– There were 6 of the class planned; only one was built.
– She is the only carrier to have 8 reactors instead of the current 2.
– She has 4 rudders, twice as many as current carriers.

A note of interest: In April 1983, USS Enterprise ran aground on a sandbar in San Francisco Bay while returning from deployment.  She remained stuck there for several hours.[25] Coincidentally, George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu, helmsman of the fictional starship Enterprise was aboard at the time as a Distinguished Visitor of the Navy.[26] Even though groundings and collisions are usually career-ending events for U.S. warship captains, the captain at the time, Cmdr Robert J. Kelly, who had already been selected for promotion to commodore, eventually became a four-star admiral and commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.[27]

The USS Enterprise is scheduled to be deactivated on December 1st of 2012.[13]

The USS Enterprise was a challenge.  Sailors either loved or hated her.  Many fell into the latter category.  Because of her age as the sole class, there were no so-called “replacement parts.”   Many of these critical parts had to be, by necessity, fabricated from scratch and then custom-fitted by personnel who were challenged to fulfill the demand.

The USS Enterprise will be the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to ever be decommissioned and its reactors scrammed, deadened, removed and transported away from her final resting place.

Her place?  As a potential museum — despite the staggering and completely unanticipated costs of nuclear decommissioning?  For such a major task?  Truthfully, as yet accurately uncalculated.

Heritage?  A petition has also been set up for the next carrier (CVN-80) to be named as the ninth USS Enterprise.[51]

The name, may, in fact — live on.

Such as this:

God bless the Big E, all her officers and crew.

May she return anew.




16 thoughts on “Goodbye to the USS Enterprise, CVN 65 — the Big E

  1. She set all kinds of records :-) And her props HAD to be cranked over event at pierside to keep from warping the shafts… They turned them at 4 RPM. She will be turned into razor blades due to the amount of damage that will be done to remove her reactors. And she was actually scheduled to decom this year, as 50 years is the ‘safe life’ of the reactor!

    • So, removing the cores will likely create some vertical damage to all the decks, I’m guessing? Damage that would be too costly to even remotely think of replacing?


        • Okay, I get it. Too bad; it would have been nice to have kept her in some semblance of presence.

          I suppose this is what any and all nuclear ships face in the future; complete disposal and demolition. Right down to razor blades, as you indicate.

          That glow in the dark. Nice.


    • AHA! See? I KNEW they did that!


      Yes, I’ll wager the strain contributed to the quick turnover and repairs necessary.

  2. Oh no!! Not the Enterprise. Say it isn’t so….. oh, gosh what a bummer. Maybe I should start a petition? Just kidding. But it is still sad to see it retired. Or maybe they could turn into a museum?

    • See Old NFO’s comment above. He is indicating it might be too expensive to do that, due to the nature of the nuclear core and associated component removal.


  3. Go see the Hornet in Alameda or the Midway in Sandy Eggo.

    I’ll bet a Double Double Animal Protien with well done fries and a diet coke Hillary ships it to Beijing in a diplomatic pouch.

    Take THAT, Hunter Thompson fans!

    • Dave, when I went to SLI in San Dee Eggo, me and a dude from Auburn PD toured the Midway and I took — imagine this — TONS of photographs of the old girl. Lots of good clean fun, that!


    • You go ahead and laugh. I HAD a Polaroid SX-70. Matter of fact, I KEPT it and still have it, along with my 4X5 Speed Graphic that I — ahem — forgot to return to the Hornets.

      Film? Don’t think you can. Even Kodak is going bankrupt.

      As someone I really respect once said: hand me my walker and my drool cup.


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