Big E Underway Again … For Dismantling

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The formerly mighty USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) made a sad trip across Hampton Roads on the morning of June 20, towed from Norfolk Naval Base back to Newport News Shipbuilding, the shipyard that built her back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. On board were more than a hundred shipbuilders who worked on the ship Back When.

Big E was ceremonially deactivated on Dec. 1, 2012, almost a month after completing her final deployment. Since then, Sailors and civilian workers have cleaned out the ship and removed many tons of equipment. The ship’s famous profile already has changed, with the removal earlier this year of the upper island structure.

The short intra-harbor June 20 movement is not the E’s final voyage. Eventually — probably in 2016 — the hulk will be towed from Virginia all the way around Cape Horn to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., where all U.S. nuclear ships go to die.

By the time the ENTERPRISE is fully recycled, she will become the largest warship ever to be scrapped, eclipsing the current record-holder, the carrier USS CORAL SEA (CV 43).

Huntington Ingalls put together this video to mark the ship’s return to the shipyard. YouTube Preview Image

As dawn breaks June 20, the ENTERPRISE is backed off the pier at Norfolk Naval Base for the last time. (U.S. Navy photo via Norfolk Naval Station)

(U.S. Navy photo via Norfolk Naval Station)

Tugs move the carrier off the Norfolk pier. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Barnes)

The ship's catapult tracks have been welded over. (U.S. Navy photo via USS Enterprise Facebook page)

Masts and radars were removed earlier from the top portion of the ship's famous island superstructure. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Barnes)

Past the security barrier, tugs push Big E's bow toward Newport News. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Barnes)

Turned around and headed across Hampton Roads to Newport News. (U.S. Navy photo via Norfolk Naval Station)

Much of the ship's topside gear has been removed. (U.S. Navy photo via USS Enterprise Facebook page)

Tugs maneuver the Big E towards her berth at Newport News. (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by John Whalen)

Arrival at Newport News (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by Ricky Thompson)

The ENTERPRISE being maneuvered by tugs into position at Newport News Shipbuilding on the morning of June 20. (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by John Whalen)

A great deal of equipment already has been removed from the ship, even before she arrived at the shipyard. (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by Ricky Thompson)

Tugs maneuver the powerless ship into her berth at Newport News. The brackets in the foreground once held life raft capsules. (U.S. Navy photo via USS Enterprise Facebook page)

WAVY-TV Channel 10’s legendary Art Kohn reports on the ENTERPRISE’s move to Newport News and what it means for the shipyard. YouTube Preview Image

Just to give a feel for how long the ENTERPRISE has been in service, here’s a video from the early 1960s about the carrier. Produced – ironically for a nuclear-powered ship – by the American Petroleum Institute, it’ll probably tell you far more than you want to know about lubricating oils … but it features some great images of the Big E when she first entered service.  YouTube Preview Image

 

 

Christopher P. Cavas
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Christopher P. Cavas

If it's on, over, under or around the water, I write about it. Ships and aircraft, units, tactics, leadership, strategies, acquisition, politics, industry. In the USA and around the world.
Christopher P. Cavas
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