The eighth USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was the world's first
nuclear aircraft carrier, powered by eight A2W reactors.
She is nicknamed the "Big E".
Her keel was laid in 1958 and she was launched on
September 24, 1960 by Newport News Shipbuilding and
Drydock Company sponsored by Mrs. W. B. Franke, wife of
the Secretary of the Navy. She was commissioned on
November 25, 1961 with Captain V. P. de Poix in command.
After commissioning, Enterprise began a lengthy series of
tests and training exercises, designed to determine the
full capabilities of the nuclear-powered aircraft
carrier. Immediately her superlative characteristics and
performance became obvious. She began flight operations
on 17 January 1962, when a F8U Crusader became the first
airplane to land on board her giant flight deck. The same
aircraft later became the first plane to be catapulted
One month later, on 20 February 1962, the nuclear-powered
carrier played a role in the space age when Enterprise
acted as a tracking and measuring station for the flight
of Friendship 7, the "Project Mercury" space
capsule in which Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn. Jr,
USMC, made the United States' first orbital space flight.
The first three
deployments of the Enterprise, from August 1962, were to
the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
In August of 1964 as operation Sea Orbit, Enterprise,
along with USS Long Beach CGN-9 and USS Bainbridge
(DLGN/CGN-25), embarked on an 30,565 mile around the
world cruise to demonstrate the ability of nuclear
powered ships to operate free from the usual ties to
Enterprise, Long Beach and the Bainbridge in formation in
the Mediterranean, June 18, 1964. Enterprise crewmembers
are spelling out the equation on the flight deck.
Upon completion of this operation, the carrier entered
the shipyard at Newport News, Virginia, for refueling.
Upon completion, the ship was transferred to the Pacific
Fleet to provide support to the growing war in Vietnam.
On January 14, 1969, while the ship was 70 nm from
Honolulu, Hawaii, an accidental armament explosion on a
below deck aircraft sparked a large fire and further
explosions of munitions or fuel. Twenty-eight crew were
killed and over 150 were wounded.
She returned to Newport for her second refueling in 1970
and following the 1973 vietnam cease-fire she was docked
at Puget Sound for an extensive refit to support awing of
the new F-14 fighters.
From 1979 to 1982 she unwent another extensive refit at
Puget Sound, centred on improvements to the electronics
and detection systems the entire island was effectively
rebuilt. In another extended refit from 1990 to 1994 she
was updated to serve until 2015, this refit was
supplemented wth additional six month work stints in
1995, 1997, 1999 and 2003. Her intended replacement is
CVN-78 to be built by 2013.
- Builder: Newport News
Shipbuilding Company, Newport News, Virginia
- Power Plant: Eight
A2W reactors, four shafts
- Length: 336 meters
- Flight Deck Width: 76
meters (252 feet)
- Beam: 40 meters (133
- Displacement: 89,600
tons full load
- Speed: 33.6 knots
after 1996 or 1999 refit
- Aircraft: 85
- One squadron of F-14;
Three of F/A-18; Four Prowlers; Four Hawkeyes;
Six Vikings; Two Shadows; Eight Sea Kings or
- Cost: ???, annual
running costs estimated at $220 m
- Crew: Ship's Company:
3,320 - Air Wing: 2,600
- Two Sea Sparrow
Three 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts