ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE, Atlantic Ocean (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) pulled away from Norfolk Naval Station's Pier 12 Oct. 13 for sea trials, following the conclusion of an Extended Selected Restricted Availability (ESRA) in the Northrop Grummon Newport News Shipyards in Newport News, Va.
Enterprise Commanding Officer Capt. Larry Rice was enthusiastic about preparing his ship for its first underway period in more than a year.
"I think the crew joins me in being ecstatic about getting underway. We don't join the Navy to fix things. We join the Navy to do things," Rice said.
Rice expects sea trials to last about three days, during which the crew plans to test nearly all facets of Enterprise's capabilities. Sea trials measure a ship's ability to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea.
"We dropped our car off to get worked on, and now we're taking it out for a three-day test drive," said Rice. "We're going to take a look at the anchor, the catapults, the weapon systems and basically everything we do to make sure we'll be ready for combat operations at sea."
The end of the ESRA period came with a sigh of relief from Senior Chief Dental Technician (SW/AW) Sharon Caine, Enterprise maintenance and material management coordinator.
"As a team, the ship's work force completed 762,619 hours of maintenance," said Caine. "Team Enterprise always comes together. We always get the ship back together. She always looks great. She always sails on proudly."
According to Caine, the next challenge for the Enterprise crew is two-fold. "First, we have to transition to being an underway ship, then we focus on INSURV," said Caine.
INSURV, or Board of Inspection and Survey, serves to conduct material inspections of naval vessels to determine and report upon a ship's ability to carry out her assigned missions.
"Enterprise gets the same amount of time in the ship yards as any other aircraft carrier, but Enterprise is a unique vessel," explained Caine. "The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers have two reactors, but Enterprise has eight. We have to do four times the maintenance they do to keep her in shape. But it doesn't matter what adversity we encounter. We always come through."
While INSURV is currently scheduled to take place in February 2006, sea trials kick off a series of underway periods for the Big E.
"We have flight deck certification, when we demonstrate we can safely launch and recover aircraft, day or night, in any kind of weather," said Rice. "Then we roll into TSTA (Tailored Ship's Training Availability) with the air wing on board. It's a team-building exercise."
Enterprise's next deployment is currently scheduled for spring '06. The ultimate goal through all the rigorous preparation and underway time, however, is to be able to answer any call, at any time, anywhere in the world as the Big E has done for 44 years.
For related news, visit the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.