Peter Boschert onboard USS Enterprise Final Cruise
On the 11th of March 2012, the USS Enterprise starts its last cruise, the next seven months she will be serving with the 5th and 6th US-fleet. After that she will be taken out of service and promptly scrapped. The carriers of the Nimitz-class all have a list already what they want to take over from “Big E” after its decommissioning.
The “65” was the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, at its time with eight A2W pressurized water reactors. For comparison, the Nimitz-class had only two reactors. After its commissioning in November 1961 the Enterprise was present at any crises, from the Cuba-crises, Vietnam, Desert Storm to Afghanistan and the Iraq-wars. In April 2008, the Enterprise went for an overhaul into the docks of Newport News. It was planned to send it there for 16 months at a cost of roughly 480 Million Dollars. However, during the overhaul it was found out that further works will be necessary. At the end, the undocking was postponed to December 2009, the costs had risen to over 660 Million Dollars.
With the end of its final cruise, Northrop Grumman will scrap the aircraft carrier starting in December 2012, its successor CVN-78 Gerald Ford will be put into service in 2015.
Carrier Air Wing (CVW)-1 is on board of the Enterprise:
Tactical Number Squadron Type Nickname Radio Callsign
1xx VFA-11 Boeing F-18F Super Hornet Red Rippers Ripper
2xx VFA-211 Boeing F-18F Super Hornet Fighting Checkmates Nickel
3xx VFA-136 Boeing F-18E Super Hornet Knighthawks Hawk
4xx VMFA-251 McDonnel Douglas F-18C Hornet Thunderbolts T-Bolt
5xx VAQ-137 Grumman EA-6B Prowler Rooks Rook
6xx VAW-123 Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Screwtops Screwtop
61x HS-11 Sikorsky SH-60F/HH-60H Seahawk Dragonslayers
xx VRC-40 Det. 4 Grumman C-2A Greyhound Rawhides Rawhide
With the decommissioning of the “BIG E” a part of the US-Navy history comes to an end, she was the longest warship in the world.
The name Enterprise has in the United States Navy its tradition back to the year 1775, in the Royal Navy even to the year 1705. With the US Navy, ships with this name participated in nearly all important battles of the maritime history. The dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships defines Enterprise as “Boldness, energy, and invention in practical affairs”. Direct predecessor was CV-6 USS Enterprise, which served in the Second World War and was the highest decorated ship of the US Navy.
The coat of arms of the USS Enterprise has, on a white round shield surrounded by the traditional colours of the Navy, gold and blue, the silhouette of a big E, representing the nickname of the ship, which it has taken over from its predecessor from the Second World War. In the upper left part the “Big E” is covered up with a stylized globe which shows the western hemisphere with the both Americas. It symbolizes the home waters of the US Navy and the Enterprise.
In the lower right part, partly covered by the “E”, is a globe with the stylized eastern hemisphere. This symbolizes the global reach of the aircraft carrier and its planes. In the middle of the coat of arms, a stylized aircraft carrier comes out of the „E“. Its island and superstructures are surrounded by a stylized atom, symbolizing the capacities and possibilities of the nuclear driven ship.
In the blue edge of the emblem the name of the ship and its hull number are written in large white letters. 1975, within a reclassification the “A” was removed from the identifier CVAN (Cruiser Volplane Attack Nuclear) to emphasize the versatility of the USS Enterprise.