Carrier ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) leaves the Fleet, but the name lives on


The mighty USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, began its deactivation Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at Norfolk naval base in Virginia. These images mark the ship’s crew disembarking the ship for the last time.

Although formal decommissioning won’t take place until 2016 — after the ship’s eight nuclear reactors are inactivated — the ENTERPRISE will never again go to sea under her own power.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, in a video played towards the end of the ceremony, announced that CVN 80, third ship of the new GERALD R. FORD-class carriers, will be named ENTERPRISE, thus becoming the ninth American naval ship to bear the name.

Under current construction schedules, the new ENTERPRISE won’t enter service until 2025, replacing the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69). See the bottom of this post for a peek at what’s to come.

The audience starts to take their seats as the deactivation ceremony gets set to begin on Pier 12 at the Norfolk naval base. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Zachary S. Welch)

Four F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters perform a ceremonial flyover of the Big E. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Nick C. Scott)

On the fringes of the audience, the crowd watches a large video screen at left. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2(SW/AW) Nick C. Scott)

A cloudless sky provided perfect weather for the outdoor ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Nick C. Scott)

Commissioned on Nov. 25, 1961, the ENTERPRISE was the longest-serving active ship in the Navy. In the background, the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) is preparing to cross Hampton Roads to Newport News Shipbuilding, where early next year she will begin a three-year refueling overhaul, intended to add another quarter century to the ship's life. The Navy intends its aircraft carriers to serve at least for 50 years. At left, behind the LINCOLN, is the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). Earlier, the USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH (CVN 77), the newest U.S. carrier, passed by en route to sea. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Alex Forster)

Hours before the Big E's deactivation ceremony, the USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH (CVN 77) passed by, en route to sea following an overhaul period. The BUSH had been berthed next door when the ENTERPRISE left Norfolk on March 11, 2012, to begin her last deployment. (U.S. Navy photo)

Signal flags on the BUSH spell out "BZ Big E" -- meaning Bravo Zulu (Navyspeak for Well Done) ENTERPRISE -- as she passes by on the morning of Dec. 1. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Joshua D. Sheppard)

Here’s a pretty neat chart put out by Huntington Ingalls Industries to celebrate the career of the Big E. HII is today’s corporate parent of Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., where the ENTERPRISE was built.

And the Navy put out this handy compilation of notable statistics:

… and THE FUTURE . . .

A graphic showing what the future USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 80) is expected to look like when she joins the fleet after 2025. The aircraft are F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters, F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet strike fighters, E-2D Hawkeye electronic warfare planes, and an unmanned strike jet modeled on the X-47B sitting on the No. 4 catapult. (U.S. Navy)




Christopher P. Cavas
Follow me on

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
Follow me on