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USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

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 from Enterprise.

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 shore bases.

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.

General Characteristics