On Sunday, November 4th, 2012 USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) completed her final and 25th cruise of a storied naval service. She was authorized by Congress in 1954 to be the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier and the 8th ship to bear the name USS ENTERPRISE. On January 12th, 1961 USS ENTERPRISE was commissioned into the Fleet. For the next 51 years she would make the distinction of being the 2nd oldest serving ship in the U.S. Navy; the USS CONSTITUTION in Boston Harbor being the oldest.
During those 51 years, USS ENTERPRISE would witness many historic events:
· In October 1962 she would be part of the blockade of Cuba as part of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
· USS ENTERPRISE provided air support to the Vietnam War and numerous deployments in the South China Sea as hostiles on the Korean Peninsula flared up.
· She would be the first aircraft carrier to operate the Navy’s newest fighter, the F-14A Tomcat, during Operation Frequent Wind in 1975 as part of the evacuation of South Vietnam.
· In the 1980’s she continued her service to the country being deployed on WESTPAC cruises during which the 1986 movie “Top Gun” was filmed onboard.
· Returning home in the 1990’s to Newport News Shipyard in Virginia, she would undergo the largest refit on any naval vessel and to extend her service life. Upon completion she was deployed to numerous cruises in the North Arabian Gulf as part of Operation Southern Watch, the enforcement of the no-fly zone of southern Iraq.
· In October 2001, USS ENTERPRISE was of the first aircraft carriers to launch air strikes into Afghanistan at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.
With her final cruise over USS ENTERPRISE was inactivated from naval service on December 1st, 2012 and scheduled for decommissioning on March 15th, 2013. At the inactivation ceremony the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus, announced proudly the third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier CVN-80 will be the ninth ship bearing the name USS ENTERPRISE, thus carrying on the tradition of the legend “Big E”.
Tamiya models has released a 1/350th scale model of the Big E that is fantastically detailed and big. Click on the picture for more details.