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Enterprise Strike Group
Enterprise Battle Group
CVN-65 Enterprise
"Big E" / "Ready on Arrival"

The aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), was decommissioned during a ceremony held in the ship's hangar bay, 03 February 2017. The ceremony not only marked the end the ship's nearly 55-year career, it also served as the very first decommissioning of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Capt. Todd Beltz, commanding officer of the Enterprise, Beltz offered highlights from a letter written by Adm. James Holloway III, Enterprise's third commanding officer, which looked toward the future of the namesake in the proposed construction of the ninth Enterprise, CVN 80.

On November 25, 2011, Big E celebrated her 50th birthday, making the carrier the oldest active duty ship in the U.S. Naval fleet. After 25 deployments and 51 years of active service, ENTERPRISE was officially inactivated December 1, 2012 and was undergoing an extensive terminal offload program leading up to her eventual decommissioning. On 20 June 2013 Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division celebrated the return of USS Enterprise (CVN 65) during the ship's final homecoming to the shipyard for her inactivation. Once the reactors are removed, CVN-65 will be formally decommissioned.

Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 12 served as Immediate Superior-in-Command for the ENTERPRISE Battle Group, including USS ENTERPRISE, Air Wing 8, USS GETTYSBURG (CG-64), and USS PHILIPPINE SEA (CG-58). Acting as Operational Commander, CCDG-12 exercised oversight of unit level and integrated training and readiness for the group. In addition, CCDG-12 maintained administrative functions and material readiness tracking for ships and squadrons assigned to the group. CCDG-12 reported to Commander, SECOND Fleet as one of six Carrier Battle Group Commanders in the Atlantic Fleet.

To assist the Commander in the administration and operation of his command, the staff gathered and evaluated detailed and accurate information on all phases of the existing situation-strategic, tactical, and logistic. The staff prepared plans, schedules, directives, and reports based upon such information or in compliance with directives received from higher authority. It translated the decisions of the Commander into directives, and disseminated information and directives to subordinate commanders and forwarded information and reports to higher authority rapidly, accurately, and completely. The staff supervises and evaluates the execution of the Commander's directives by subordinate commands.

Enterprise made her maiden voyage under the command of Capt. Vincent P. DePoix, Jan. 12, 1962. In August, Enterprise joined the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Soon after her 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 in place on Oct. 24, and the first Soviet ship was stopped the next day. On Oct. 28, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles and dismantle the missile bases in Cuba.

Enterprise made her 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 July 31, the 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.

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 she launched bomb-laden aircraft in a projection of power against the Viet Cong on Dec. 2, 1965. Her 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 she 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.

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 F-14A "Tomcat." When Enterprise made its seventh Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment in September 1974, it became the first carrier to deploy with the new 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.

When commissioned on 25 November 1961, ENTERPRISE was designated as a 'nuclear-powered attack aircraft carrier' and was assigned the hull number CVAN 65. To more accurately reflect ENTERPRISE's multi-mission capabilities, the "A" (for attack) was dropped on 1 July 1975, and the Big E became a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with the hull number CVN 65.

The ship made her eighth and ninth WESTPACs in 1976 and 1978, respectively. Enterprise made her 10th, 11th and 12th WESTPAC deployments in 1982, 1984 and 1986, respectively.

When Enterprise deployed in 1986, she became the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal. It then entered the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in over 22 years.

In April 1988, Enterprise, on her 13th deployment, was assigned to escort reflagged Kuwaiti 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 her 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 a 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 refueling and the Navy's largest complex overhaul ever attempted. She 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 remained the fastest combatant in the world.


The outer circle, using the Navy colors of blue and gold, enclose a gold outlined Big "E", the traditional nickname for its predecessor, the renowned aircraft carrier of World War II, USS ENTERPRISE (CV 6). As the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) adopted the nickname, confident that it is living up to the traditions of the service and duty the Big "E" symbolizes. Over the upper left-hand section of the E is an overlay of the globe showing the Western Hemisphere, home waters for ENTERPRISE and the United States Navy.

The lower right-hand section of the E, covered by part of the golden outline, is another section of the globe showing the Eastern Hemisphere, symbolizing that ENTERPRISE and its aircraft can cover the world. Emerging through the center of the E is an aircraft carrier with a nuclear emblem surrounding the island structure to indicate the nuclear capability and power that ENTERPRISE contains. When commissioned on 25 November 1961, ENTERPRISE was designated as a 'nuclear-powered attack aircraft carrier' and was assigned the hull number CVAN 65. To more accurately reflect ENTERPRISE's multi-mission capabilities, the "A" (for attack) was dropped on 1 July 1975, and the Big E became a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with the hull number CVN 65.

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Page last modified: 09-02-2017 19:37:33 ZULU