As the USS Enterprise Is Inactivated, Another Enterprise Will Follow in Her Wake

USS Enterprise (CVN 65). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman)


Setting aside for now the question, or the argument, of whether we have not enough or too many bayonets, horses and aircraft carriers, and in keeping with a promise to publish from time to time information that confirms that our military remains the most powerful in the world, here is one such bit of information.

Today, as the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the Navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was inactivated in Norfolk, Va., Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the third Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carrier will be named Enterprise in honor of the venerable aircraft carrier that has served sterlingly in peace and in war for more than five decades.

The U.S. Navy:

A veteran of 25 deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, Pacific Ocean, and the Middle East, Enterprise has served in nearly every major conflict to take place during her history. From the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to six deployments in support of the Vietnam conflict through the Cold War and the Gulf Wars, Enterprise was there. On September 11, 2001, Enterprise aborted her transit home from a long deployment after the terrorist attacks, and steamed overnight to the North Arabian Sea. Big ‘E’ once again took her place in history when she launched the first strikes in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Attendees observe the inactivation ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary S. Welch)

“The USS Enterprise was the first of its kind, and for 51 years its name has been synonymous with boldness, readiness and an adventurous spirit,” said Mabus. “Rarely has our fleet been without a ship bearing the name. I chose to maintain this tradition not solely because of the legacy it invokes, but because the remarkable work of the name Enterprise is not done.”

The future USS Enterprise (CVN 80) will be the third of the new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier and the ninth Navy ship to bear that name.

The other two Ford-class carriers presently under construction or planned, are the PCU (Pre-Commissioning Unit) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), respectively. Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) was ordered from Newport News Shipbuilding on Sept. 10, 2008, and is scheduled to be delivered in 2015.

According to the Navy:

The Gerald R. Ford class will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation. Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers and carrier strike groups will provide the core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance. The class brings improved war fighting capability, quality of life improvements for our Sailors and reduced acquisition and life cycle costs.

USS Gerald R. Ford — U.S. Navy digital image

Each ship in the new class will save $4 billion in total ownership costs during its 50-year service life, compared to the Nimitz-class. For comparison, the total ownership cost for a Nimitz-class ship is $39.2 billion in FY 12 constant year dollars, and the total ownership cost for CVN 78 is expected to be $35.6 billion. Half of the total ownership cost for an aircraft carrier is allocated to the direct and indirect costs of manpower for operations and maintenance of the ship. The CVN 78 is being designed to operate effectively with nearly 800 fewer crew members than a CVN 68-class ship. Improvements in the ship design will allow the embarked air wing to operate with 663 fewer personnel…

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert tours the aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) to personally see the construction efforts of the newest class of nuclear-powered, super carrier while at the Newport News Shipbuilding shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor)

Gerald R. Ford is the first aircraft carrier designed with all electric utilities, eliminating steam service lines from the ship, reducing maintenance requirements and improving corrosion control efforts…The Gerald R. Ford class is designed to maximize the striking power of the embarked carrier air wing. The ship’s systems and configuration are optimized to maximize the sortie generation rate (SGR) of attached strike aircraft, resulting in a 25 percent increase in SGR over the Nimitz class…

These are the general characteristics of the Gerald R. Ford class :

Builder: Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va.
Propulsion: Two nuclear reactors, four shafts.
Length: 1,092 feet
Beam: 134 feet, Flight Deck Width: 256 feet.
Displacement: approximately 100,000 long tons full load.
Speed: 30+ knots (34.5+ miles per hour)
Crew: 4,539 (ship, air wing and staff).
Armament: Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, Rolling Airframe Missile, CIWS.
Aircraft: 75+.

No horses and bayonets here…

Sources: U.S. Navy

All photos and captions: U.S.Navy

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

  • merkin

    I flew off of the Enterprise during Linebacker II, the Christmas bombing of North Vietnam. Not only has the aircraft I flew, the F4, been retired from service, the aircraft that replaced it, the F-14, has also been retired and now the Enterprise, the last of the ships in service that I sailed on, has been retired too. I am feeling more and more like a relic.

    The Big E was the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Because it was the first the Navy didn’t have the large nuclear reactors designed for carriers ready for it so they used eight small reactors designed for submarine service. The eight reactors were seriously oversized for the carrier. But it meant that one or two of the reactors could be dedicated to providing steam for the catapults used for launching aircraft. As a result the Big E was the favorite carrier among aviators of my era. It is a privilege to have sailed on her.

  • SteveK

    Thanks Dorian… Thanks merkin for sharing these wonderful stories / memories.

    Unfortunately, other than having a son that was a ‘nuker’ on the USS Arkansas (CGN-41) and helping a friend get the USS Hornet moved from Oakland to Alameda… I’m Army! :)

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    @ Merkin

    One of the things I like about posting at TMV is that one gets to “know” some of the readers quite well. Even so, there are sometimes surprises.

    I had no idea about your Naval aviation and Vietnam War service, Merkin, and I salute your for it.

    Dorian

    Edited to correct a name “swap”

    @ Steve,

    Thanks for your comments and for your and your son’s service. Nothing wrong with being Army :)

    An Air Force ‘flyboy’

  • DMLou

    I think Jean-Luc Picard said it best with the line “Let’s make sure history never forgets the name… Enterprise!”