USS enterprise A bottle of champagne shattered on the bow of the awesome new warship, USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), breaking the silence of an anxious crowd at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, Va. It was Sunday morning, Sept 24,1961, when Mrs. William B. Franke, wife of former Secretary of the Navy, christened the eigth USS Enterprise, bringing life the longest, tallest, and mightiest warship to ever sail the seas.

At the commissioning of the Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally, Jr., called it a worthy successor to the highly decorated seventh USS Enterprise of World War II. "The Fighting Gray Lady, as it was called, served in such well-known battles as the raid on Tokyo and the Battle of Midway." Secretary Connally went on to say, "The new Enterprise will reign a long, long time as queen of the seas." Enterprise made its maiden voyage under the command of Capt. Vincent P. DePoix, Jan. 12, 1962, conducting a three-month shakedown cruise.

In August, Enterprise joined the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Soon after its return to Norfolk, Va., in October, Enterprise was dispatched to its first international crisis.

Enterprise and other ships in the Second Fleet set up a "strict quarantine of all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba." The blockade was put into place on Oct. 24, and the first Soviet ship was stopped the next day. On Oct. 28, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missile bases in Cuba. USS enterprise Enterprise made its second and third deployments to the Mediterranean in 1963 and 1964. During the latter deployment, on May 13, the world's first nuclear-powered task force was formed when USS Long Beach and USS Bainbridge joined Enterprise. On Jul 31, the three ships were designated Task Force One and sent on "Operation Sea Orbit," a historic 30,565-mile voyage around the world, accomplished without a single refueling or replenishment.

In October, Enterprise returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for its first refueling and overhaul.

The Big E transferred to the Pacific's Seventh Fleet in November 1965 and became the first nuclear-powered ship to engage in combat when it launched bomb-laden aircraft in a projection of power against the Viet Cong on Dec. 2, 1965. Its hot decks launched 125 sorties on the first day, unleashing 167 tons of bombs and rockets on the enemy's supply lines. The next day it set a record of 165 strike sorties in a single day.

In all, Enterprise made six combat deployments to Southeast Asia from 1965 to 1972. Between combat tours, Enterprise returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in 1970 for an overhaul and second refueling. Following the 1973 cease-fire in Vietnam, Enterprise proceeded to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., where Big E was altered and refitted to support the Navy's newest fighter aircraft -- the F14-A "Tomcat".

When Enterprise made its seventh Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment in September 1974, it became the first carrier to deploy with the new F-14 Tomcat fighter plane. During the deployment, in February 1975, Enterprise was called on to help in the evacuation of Saigon. During Operation Frequent Wind, Big E aircraft flew 95 sorties.

The ship made its eighth and ninth WESTPACs in July 1976 and April 1978, respectively. It sailed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in January 1979 for a 30-month comprehensive overhaul.

Enterprise made its 10th, 11th, and 12th WESTPACs in 1982,1984, and 1986, respectively. In April of the 1986 deployment, Enterprise became the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ro transit the Suez Canal. It then entered the Mediterranean for the first time in 22 years.

In April 1988, Enterprise, on its 13 deployment, was assigned to escort duties of reflagged Kuwati oil tankers in the Persian Gulf while stationed in the North Arabian Sea. In a measured response, Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing 11 struck a decisive blow to the Iranian navy in the most intensely fought naval battle since the Korean campaign. Enterprise began its 14th overseas deployment in September 1989. In early December, Enterprise participated in "Operation Classic Resolve," President Bush's response to Philippine President Corazon Aquino's request for air support during the rebel coup attempt. Enterprise remained on station conducting flight operations in the waters outside Manila bay.

In March 1990, Enterprise completed its highly successful around-the-world deployment by arriving in Norfolk, Va. Enterprise had successfully and safely steamed more than 43,000 miles from its long-time homeport of Alameda, Calif. In October, Enterprise moved to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for the Navy's largest complex overhaul and refueling ever attempted. Work began in earnest in January 1991. While specially trained shipyard workers refueled the ship's eight nuclear reactors, crewmen and more shipyard workers began overhauling the carrier's 3,500 compartments. In Spetember 1994, Enterprise completed its overhaul, the most extensive in U.S. Naval history. Crewmen expended 1.5 million ardous man-hours overhauling spaces, from the vast hangar bay to the propulsion plants to the smallest fan room. The ship's 14th Commanding Officer, Capt. Richard J. Naughton, said, "It took a herculean effort by the crew and Newport News Shipbuilding to complete this overhaul. Big E is once again ready to serve the country throughout the world well into the 21st century." Enterprise returned to sea Sept. 27, 1994, for sea trials, during which Enterprise performed an extended full power run as fast as when it was new. The Big E remains the fastest combatant in the world. The ship then returned to its homeport in Norfolk, Va.

In mid-January 1995, Big E returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for a six moth Selected Restricted Availability. The yard period involved upgrades to all of the combat and communcations systems, intelligence suites, command and control capabilites, ventilation systems, berthing and dining areas, and underway replenishment equipment. Big E departed Newport News in July and returned to Norfolk Naval Base. Enterprise is currently training and preparing for a mid-1996 overseas deployment.

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