USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- In 1962, a brand-new aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visited Naples, Italy, for the first time.
Times were different then. The United States was in the midst of a massive arms build-up with the Soviet Union, while involvement in Vietnam was beginning to escalate. A band from Liverpool, England, called The Beatles, began blowing up airwaves across the U.S. and the entire world.
It was Enterprise's first deployment. The newly-christened carrier was deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to take part in several NATO exercises with partner nations. The "Big E" visited Naples for one week in September before being deployed to Cuba for the October Cuban Missile Crisis.
Fifty years later, Enterprise returned to Naples Oct. 16-21. Only this time, she's been around. Her decks are seasoned with the sweat of the over 100,000 Sailors and Marines that have formed her ranks through her 51 years of service.
"Enterprise made a port call in Naples on its first deployment in 1962," said William C Hamilton, the commanding officer of Enterprise. "Since that time, Enterprise has visited Naples six more times during its 50-plus years of service."
During the port of call, Sailors and Marines had the chance to unwind and soak up the rich Italian culture. The ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department offered several discounted tours and overnight activities that highlighted some of the must-see areas of mainland Italy.
"Besides shopping and eating the delicious food, nearly 5,000 Sailors and Marines have the chance to experience Italian culture and history during the many tours that have been arranged for us," said Hamilton. "This is an experience of a lifetime."
The tours gave "Big E" Sailors the opportunity to experience locations spanning the Iberian Peninsula. The tours included trips to Rome, Florence, Pompeii and Pisa - to name a few.
"Rome was absolutely beautiful," said Information Specialist 3rd Class Andrea Tourville. "Italy is an absolutely moving place. There is so much history there."
"The tours that I took to Florence and Pisa were something that I will always remember," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Stephen Wolff. "The smell of espresso and fresh basil in the air was amazing. It is truly a place immersed in history and culture."
Enterprise also took the time to welcome their Italian hosts aboard for an evening.
On Oct. 19 a reception was held in the ship's hangar bay to express appreciation for the long-lasting relationship that the legendary carrier has had with the people of Italy.
The reception was attended by several Italian and U.S. dignitaries, including Prince Carlo Di Borbone, David Thorne, U.S. ambassador to the Italian Republic and the Republic of San Marino and Adm. Bruce Clingan, commander, Allied Joint Forces Command, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for us as the U.S. Navy to express our appreciation to Italy; to thank you for being a wonderful host nation and a steadfast and capable ally," said Clingan, as he addressed those in attendance at the reception.
Naples is the second-largest city in Italy, steaming with cultural fragrance. The metropolitan city is located with convenient access to historical Rome, Herculaneum, Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.
Prior to leaving Italy, Sailors and Marines from the "Big E" also spent their time in Naples reaching out to the Italian people through several community relations activities that took place in various churches and monasteries in the Neapolitan region.
As the anchor was weighed, Enterprise departed the city of Naples for the final time, symbolically closing the circle on nearly half a century of service across the globe. Just as Naples was the ship's first foreign port of call, it was also her last.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.