USS Enterprise (CVN 65)
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 Sunday 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
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 stoped 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
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
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
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 Caribbean 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 transits 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.
On August 11-20 the "Big E" put to sea for Flight Deck Certification. During
this period Enterprise launched and recovered aircraft ensuring that our "main
battery" was sound as it looked. Having returned from the Virginia Capes operating
area the USS Enterprise is fit for duty.
|To project air power ashore in support of national interests.
|November 1961 in Newport News, Va., the world’s first
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
|Conducting military operations in the Mediterranean Sea and
|Flight deck area
|18,210 sq. m
|Eight nuclear reactors
|More than 30 knots
|Ship embarks about 75 aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 3.
|Air Wing 3
|One of the most amazing engineering feats of modern times.
Nine hundred Newport News, Va., engineers and designers created the ship on paper. If the
millions of blueprints they created were laid end-to-end, they would stretch 2,400 miles,
from Atlanta to Los Angeles. More then 800 companies supplied materials for its
construction. It took three years and nine months to build.
|1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, on the front-line of defense for
the U.S. Naval Blockade.
|Six combat deployments to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam
|1986 Libyan raid.
|1988 "Operation Praying Mantis" conducted while
escorting reflagged Kuwaiti tankers in the Persian Gulf. Enterprise and its air
wing sunk an Iranian gun boat and frigate, and severely damaged two other Iranian
|1996 Fastest transit ever from Mediterranean Sea to Persian
Gulf to support strikes on Iraq.
|The name "Enterprise" has been part
of the U.S. Naval history since 1775.
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