Enterprise, Navy's First Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier, Inactivated

Story Number: NNS121201-03Release Date: 12/1/2012 2:41:00 PM
A  A  A   Email this story to a friend   Print this story
From USS Enterprise Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Nearly 12,000 past and current crewmembers, family and friends attended the inactivation of aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Dec. 1, 2012, at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Enterprise, the world's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, recently completed its 25th and final deployment and returned to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk for a scheduled inactivation, held prior to the ship's terminal offload program and subsequent decommissioning.

The inactivation ceremony was the last official public event for the ship, and served as a celebration of life for the ship and the more than 100,000 Sailors who served aboard.

The Chief of Naval Operations, the Commander of United States Fleet Forces, nine of twenty-three prior commanding officers, many decorated war heroes, and thousands of Enterprise veterans attended the event.

"Enterprise is a special ship and crew, and it was special long before I got here" said Captain William C. Hamilton, Jr., the twenty-third and final commanding officer, during the ceremony.

"Before I took command of this ship, I learned the definition of 'enterprise', which is 'an especially daring and courageous undertaking driven by a bold and adventurous spirit.' Fifty-one years ago, this ship was every bit of that definition."

"Here we are 51 years later," he continued, "celebrating the astonishing successes and accomplishments of this engineering marvel that has roamed the seas for more than half the history of Naval Aviation. Daring, courageous, bold, and adventurous indeed."

In honor of that spirit, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, in a video message played at the ceremony, announced that the name Enterprise will live on as the officially passed the name to CVN-80, the third Ford class carrier and the ninth ship in the U.S. Navy to bear the name.

Commissioned on November 25, 1961, the eighth ship to bear the illustrious name Enterprise, the "Big E" was the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

A veteran of 25 deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, Pacific Ocean, and the Middle East, Enterprise has served in nearly every major conflict to take place during her history. From the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to six deployments in support of the Vietnam conflict through the Cold War and the Gulf Wars, Enterprise was there. On September 11, 2001, Enterprise aborted her transit home from a long deployment after the terrorist attacks, and steamed overnight to the North Arabian Sea. Big 'E' once again took her place in history when she launched the first strikes in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 100,000 Sailors and Marines have served aboard Enterprise during its lifetime, which has included every major conflict since the Cuban Missile Crisis. It has been home ported in both Alameda, Calif., and Norfolk, Va., and has conducted operations in every region of the world.

For more information on USS Enterprise, her legendary history, and Inactivation Week, please visit www.enterprise.navy.mil.

For news from Enterprise's final deployment, pictures of the Inactivation Ceremony, and video footage of the event, log onto www.navy.mil/local/cvn65.

Visit the ship's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65.

12/6/2012 3:07:00 PM
From 1966To 1970 Were good years for this old chief.Steam Cats and JBD HSB,MMC

12/6/2012 12:05:00 PM
Those 100,000 + sailors who served aboard the USS Enterprise should feel proud they were a part of the world's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier – a ship that protected the seas over half a century and played an important role in so many major conflicts since Vietnam. I feel very fortunate to have seen her embark and return from the final deployment. Thank you for your service, Big E!

12/5/2012 11:17:00 AM
I was transiting to reserves from active destroyer duty when the last B E was being built. It hurts there is no longer an Enterprise to guard on the seas of the world. DO NOT LET OUR NAVY BECOME TO SMALL OVER WORKDED AND WORN THIN. Means SO2

12/4/2012 5:12:00 PM
I have seen the newspaper pictorial of the Big E when it was launched 1961, in Manila, PH. My reaction then,,it was awsome...thus she served during Veitnam conflic. Often docked in Subic or Manila Bay.

12/4/2012 5:07:00 PM
My wife and I were on board for a tour and Dec 1st Ceremony The last time I was onboard was Dec of 1966 , The day I was flowned off from the South China Sea ( Yankee Station). I was 20 yrs old then. I'm so happy and also sad that we did go to Norfolk Navy Station to see The BIG -E She has been a great ship . Thanks Nick.V

12/4/2012 12:28:00 PM
I'm sorry I was unable to attend the deactivation ceremony. I served aboard the Big E as a Reactor Plant Electrician (IC-2) assigned to No. 3 Engine Room. We had a stretch of 59 days at sea when we left the coast of Vietnam and headed to the Indian Ocean when Pakistan and India were rattling their sabres at the end of 1971. I didn't realize how large the Big E really was until I walked underneath it while in dry dock at Hunters Point, San Francisco. Looking forward to the next Enterprise.

12/4/2012 7:16:00 AM
I had the privilege to see Enterprise thirty five years ago when my brother was a crew member on the U S S Eisenhower. Aircraft carriers are simply amazing. I am now a proud navy dad as my daughter is a crew member on the John C. Stennis.

12/3/2012 5:57:00 PM
great ship sorry to see here go,please put her on show,for the future generations,very well done.

12/3/2012 4:43:00 PM
Simple Question. The Enterprise has had her nuclear rods removed and been refuled before. Given the historic nature of this ship, and the willingness of people to people to preserve it, why can't the fuel rods be removed and the reactors safed without destroying the ship?

12/3/2012 3:34:00 PM

12/3/2012 9:18:00 AM
A true monument to the people who saw the future and built a global force for Good! May god continue to look over us as the peace keepers.

12/2/2012 8:36:00 AM
Hello, I was at the Inactivation and young Sailor was taking picture and took two of Me and my Grandson, when they was honor the flag where can we see the pictures.

12/2/2012 7:36:00 AM
It was the best time I ever had aboard the USS Enterprise, My daughter was then a third class petty officer.I was on the 2011 Tiger Cruise. You could just feel the History once you stepped on board. I had two days and a nights aboard that fine lady, and I enjoyed every minute. my daughter has reenlisted in the Navy while on it final voyage and invited her younger sister to board her on the final Tiger Cruise 2012. I have Prayed a lot and often while my daughter is on Deployment, GOD BLESS HER

12/1/2012 5:49:00 PM
I hope the Navy turns her into a museum. There's far too much history and lore here to just scrap her. She deserves a dignified and noble retirement.

Comment submission for this story is now closed.
Attendees observe the inactivation ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).
121201-N-KQ416-200 NORFOLK (Dec. 1, 2012) Attendees observe the inactivation ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). Enterprise was commissioned in 1961 and is scheduled to celebrate her inactivation, Dec. 1, after 51 years of service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary S. Welch/Released)
December 1, 2012
Navy Social Media
Sign up for email updates To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please click on the envelope icon in the page header above or click here.