Skip to comments.So Long to ‘The Big E’(inactivated today)
Posted on 12/01/2012 7:09:10 PM PST by smoothsailing
December 1, 2012
For five decades, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier Enterprise plowed the seven seas to protect the freedoms of American citizens and guarantee freedom of the seas for all. From the Cuban missile crisis through its participation in conflicts arising out of the 9/11 attacks, “The Big ‘E’” was the tip of the spear of American foreign policy.
Today, in front of 12,000 former crew, their families, and friends, the United States Navy formally retired Enterprise from active service.
The 1,123-foot (342-metres) long Enterprise was commissioned in 1961 with eight nuclear reactors on board, and the next year was deployed to participate in a blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Since then, it has played a role in a number of naval missions, including deployments to Vietnam and to the Middle East as part of the U.S. response to the September 11, 2001, attacks. It returned from its final deployment about a month ago, said Navy spokesman Mike Maus.
Nicknamed the “Big E,” the Enterprise was the oldest active duty ship in the U.S. Naval fleet, according to the military, and was the eighth U.S. military ship to bear the name Enterprise.
The roughly 12,000 people who participated in the ceremony for the USS Enterprise include many former crew members and their friends, Maus said. The ceremony was held in Virginia at Naval Station Norfolk.
The Enterprise will stay at Naval Station Norfolk for several months and then will move to a shipyard in nearby Newport News, Virginia, where its nuclear fuel will be removed from the vessel, Maus said.
After that, the ship will be towed to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington state, where its nuclear reactors will be dismantled and the Enterprise will be scrapped, Maus said.
There are no plans to turn the Enterprise into a museum, as has been done with other historic warships.
The Navy said in a statement that inactivation and defueling of the Enterprise will have “major impacts on the structure of the ship” and that it would be too costly to “return the ship to a condition that would support it becoming a museum.”
Even today, Enterprise was an impressive weapon of war. Its 8 nuclear reactors powered the ship to speeds up to 34 knots. It carried a crew of 5,000 seamen and airmen and up to 90 aircraft. It was the longest naval vessel in the world in its time, displacing nearly 95,000 tons — a truly fearsome manifestation of American power.
Enterprise was the second oldest commissioned warship in the US Navy, superseded only by the three masted frigate Constitution. She and her crew have much to be proud having served this nation with honor and courage for so long.
Interesting. The Navy dumps a ship only 50 years old but yet the Air Force is still flying B-52’s that some grand son of the first pilot is flying it.
Back in the days before they started naming ships after John Murtha and Cesar Chavez.
One of my boys was Sailor of the Year on the Big E.
There was an old, old interservice rivalry joke about a sailor bragging about the Navy building a ship so big they were going to have to widen the ocean to sail it. An airman topped it by bragging about a new bomber so big they were going to have to import atmosphere from Mars to fly it.
Thank You for sharing that!
The USS Enterprise was too huge to dock in Boston’s Inner harbor, but 50 years ago she was anchored off shore out among the Harbor islands. My Dad, a Navy Vet of WW2 and Korea, put all of us kids in a boat and went out to “See The Enterprise”. We navigated up as close as was safe and were AWED by that magnificent ship. I will never forget the sight.
Dad passed away a year ago, and I wonderful memories of his love for the Navy and for America.
I don’t know what the whole story is, but I will admit to having thoughts somewhat similar to yours.
Is this truly a ship that was overdue to be retired, or was this simply a convenient excuse to get the ball rolling toward what Obama would love to do, leave us with perhaps one carrier group, if that.
Kudos to the both of you... Very cool.
Good for him.
I’ll bet the wonderful Parents that raised him had a whole lot to do with it.
An airplane is not a ship in seawater.
After 50 years at sea....she’s done well. Time for her to be retired.
I’ve always loved that photo since I was a kid and saw it in an encyclopedia. I eventually became a submarine nuc, but seeing those three nuclear powered surface ships running together was inspiring.
I was born well before the B-52 ever got airborne and I’ll be long gone before the last of those BUFF birds are finally grounded.
Yeah I guess. Hate to see her go though.
After 50 years in salt water maybe some sailor just for fun poked at her side below deck and saw water come in from where he poked and said “Hey! Lookie here!”
Same here, it’s always been one of my favorites. :)
Congratulations on that. I think I remember you telling me that a while back on a different but kinda equal posting.
Well, something along those lines may be the answer.
Refitting seems like a better cost advantage than a new unit, but as you point out, 50 years is a long time.
I think I read that they’ll be flying well into the 2020’s and beyond. It’s a great platform. I read where one, just one B-52 carried the same bomb load as a squadron of B-17’s or something like that.
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