NORFOLK (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) paid shipboard tribute Nov. 28 to the 125 crew members who died and the 20 captured during the ship's five decades of activity.
More than 900 former Enterprise Sailors, some who served on the ship's maiden voyage, attended the ceremony as part of a two-day 50th birthday celebration.
The ceremony included scripture readings, the dedication of a memorial plaque, and remarks by Rear Adm. Walter E. Carter, Jr., commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, and the ship's Commanding Officer, Capt. William C. Hamilton Jr.
"The true heroes of this magnificent ship are those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their nation," said Carter. "We will never forget them or their families, and we celebrate their lives today."
Commissioned Nov. 25, 1961, Enterprise is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and has served in every major U.S. conflict since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The ship's most tragic moment occurred the morning of Jan. 14, 1969 when a rocket exploded on the flight deck, igniting a series of blasts and fires that took several hours to extinguish.
In all, 28 Sailors were killed with 314 injured.
A large plaque hangs in the ship's foc'sle with the names of each Sailor who perished in the fire.
Enterprise is scheduled to make its 22nd and final deployment this Spring, followed by a deactivation period and decommissioning, scheduled for 2015.
Enterprise is unique in many ways. It is the only ship with eight nuclear reactors, and was originally designed to last 25 years. However, due to shipyard upgrades and continual maintenance, Enterprise will be inactivated after the crew celebrates her 51st birthday.
More than 100,000 are estimated to have served aboard throughout the years.
For more information about the Enterprise, visit www.enterprise.navy.mil.
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.