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Thread: Final deployment for Enterprise (CVN-65)

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    Final deployment for Enterprise (CVN-65)

    As Enterprise prepares for her final cruise, I thought she would be worthy of her own thread to detail news of her final deployment. So lets kick things off!

    Enterprise crew revels in ship’s long history
    By Brock Vergakis - The Associated Press
    Posted : Saturday Mar 10, 2012 14:45:27 EST
    NORFOLK, Va. — When the makers of “Top Gun” were filming on board the aircraft carrier Enterprise, they donated a set of black fuzzy dice to liven up the ship’s otherwise drab interior. A quarter-century later, the dice will still be dangling inside the tower of “the Big E” as the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sets sail on its final voyage Sunday.

    The trinket is a reminder of the ship’s storied 50-year history that includes action in several wars, a prominent role in the Cuban missile crisis and serving as a spotter ship for John Glenn’s historic orbit of the earth.

    “To serve on this ship, certainly in this capacity, you certainly have to be a student of the ship’s history,” said Rear Adm. Walter Carter, commander of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group. “Fifty years of service, in our nation’s history, we’ve never had a warship in service that long.”

    Enterprise is the longest aircraft carrier in the U.S. fleet. It is also the oldest, a distinction that brings pride as well as plenty of headaches for the ship’s more than 4,000 crew members. The ship is effectively a small city that frequently needs repairs because of its age. It was originally designed to last 25 years, but a major overhaul in 1979 and other improvements have extended its life.

    The ship largely looks like any other carrier on the inside and has modern amenities like gyms, a coffee shop and a television station with dozens of channels. It even produces its own daily newspaper while at sea.

    But even the best-maintained ship faces challenges as it ages.

    “It’s kind of like when you get older and you know it’s harder to get out of the bed in the morning. It takes you a couple hours to kind of really get up and then you’re fine. Well, it’s the same sort of thing here with Enterprise,” Capt. William Hamilton, the ship’s commanding officer, said days before the ship was set to deploy from Naval Station Norfolk.

    Hamilton acknowledged all aircraft carriers have problems they’re supposed to anticipate, but he said Enterprise is more likely to have “unknown unknowns” than newer ships.

    Machinists in charge of fixing unexpected problems say the things that can break down range from critical air conditioner units to elevators that lift fighter jets from the hangar bay to the flight deck not working. Moreover, Enterprise has eight nuclear reactors to maintain — six more than any other U.S. carrier.

    The problems are so notorious that sailors reporting to work aboard Enterprise are often given joking condolences by their colleagues on shore and on other ships.

    The ship regularly has to make its own parts from scratch when something breaks down. Spare parts for much of the ship, which is the only one of its class, simply don’t exist.

    “Life is hard on Enterprise,” Hamilton said. “But when they leave here, they leave knowing if they can do this, they can do anything.”

    The challenges aboard the ship and the need to keep spirits up were highlighted last year, when former commanding officer Capt. Owen Honors was fired for airing raunchy videos — while serving as the ship’s executive officer years earlier — that he said were intended to boost morale. During a hearing in which Honors was trying to avoid being kicked out of the Navy, he and his lawyers frequently referenced the difficult conditions on board. Honors was found to have committed misconduct, but ultimately allowed to stay in the service. He is retiring in April.

    Hamilton acknowledged that maintaining morale on the ship — which has unofficial mottos like “There’s tough, and then there’s Enterprise tough” and “We eat pain like candy” — is still vital.

    “As much as anything, it’s just telling them face to face that you appreciate, the Navy appreciates, the nation appreciates what they’re doing and then that goes a long, long way,” he said.

    There’s also the added bonus of the ship’s crew members feeling particularly proud to serve on a ship whose name has a distinguished place in naval history and pop culture.

    Crew members who weren’t even alive when “Top Gun” was in theaters in 1986 use the film to explain what it is they do on the ship, as well as exactly where it is they do it.

    For Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Dennis, there’s also pride in his ship having the same name as the ship featured in the “Star Trek” series. He’s from Cairo, Ga., the same home town as “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry.

    “In a way I wanted to be part of this ship, to be on the last deployment, to be a part of that. Being from Cairo, that’s real huge,” he said. “I always wanted to be a part of history, so being on this last deployment it’ll be something I can definitely tell my children and grandchildren.”

    Enterprise is heading to the Middle East on its seven-month deployment, where it will be on standby in case of conflict with Iran or piracy threats off Somalia, among other things. The ship has experience with both scenarios, participating in a retaliatory strike against Iran for mining the Arabian Gulf in 1988 and responding last year to the hijacking of a sailing vessel by Somali pirates, during which all four Americans on board were shot and killed.

    The deployment will be the ship’s 22nd. Following its return to Virginia in the fall, tens of thousands are expected to be on hand for a deactivation ceremony Dec. 1 that President Obama has been invited to attend. But if “Top Gun” producer Jerry Bruckheimer wants to film a sequel, he’ll have to find another ship.

    The following summer, Enterprise will be towed to the shipyard where it was built in nearby Newport News so its nuclear fuel can be removed, a process that will take until 2015. What remains of the ship after that will then be taken to Washington state so it can be scrapped.

    The ship, among the first to respond after the Sept. 11 attacks, won’t be turned into a museum like some other carriers. Crews have to cut large holes in the vessel to remove the nuclear fuel, and it would be too expensive to repair, said Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Self-Kyler, Enterprise’s public affairs officer.

    Instead, many of the ship’s alumni want another carrier to be named Enterprise in the future.

    This is the eighth ship to bear the name Enterprise, and there’s a room on board dedicated as a museum to past incarnations. The preceding aircraft carrier Enterprise was the most decorated ship in World War II, while the first Enterprise joined the U.S. fleet after it was captured from the British in 1775.

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    Is there any update at all on naming another USS Enterprise?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigross86 View Post
    Is there any update at all on naming another USS Enterprise?
    Not yet. Hopefully, we are done with politician names for some time, and perhaps CVN-80 may become the next Enterprise?

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    One can hope.

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    Quote Originally Posted by surfgun View Post
    Not yet. Hopefully, we are done with politician names for some time, and perhaps CVN-80 may become the next Enterprise?
    Mabus seems to have gotten smacked by somebody (Congress, I'm guessing) for his last several choices, so it's been announced they'll be going back to "traditional" names.

    That doesn't change a few facts: Both CVN-78 and CVN-79, the only authorized carriers for the intermediate future, already have names. And there's still no guarantee that CVN-80 won't get a politician's name. It's a damn miracle that LHA-6 was given a proper name. It truly should've gone to a CVN but beggars can't be choosers.

    Then of course there's LPD-26, an absolute abomination at best and at worst, an insulting disrespect to every man and woman that has to serve on it. Who says the Democrats don't love the military?

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    Enterprise, departed Norfolk this morning (3/11/12).Navy News Service - Eye on the Fleet

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    Some interesting bits of information:

    • This will be her 22nd deployment.
    • She was commissioned in 1961 with a projected service life of 25 years, she will be 51 years of age when she is retired.
    • Her first captain was born in 1916 and is still alive at 95 years of age, a retired vice admiral and former director of DIA.
    • She has seen service from the Cuban Missile Crisis to Vietnam to being one of the first responders of 9/11.
    • She has 8 nuclear reactors that propel her 95,000 tons through the water at nearly 35 knots.
    • She is still the single longest warship ever at 1123 feet.
    • She carries over 5,800 crew on deployments that last 6 months.
    • It's estimated that more than 200,000 sailors have served on Enterprise.
    • Her island is as wide as it is long, causing a large area of disrupted wind behind the ship that makes for more difficult landings.
    • The angle of her deck is 11 degrees vs nine degrees on a Nimitz-class, also making for a more challenging landing.

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    Here is a story including a listing of ships in the CSG and squadrons deployed with Enterprise.

    From Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

    USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) departed Norfolk Naval Station March 11 on the ship's 22nd and final deployment.

    Enterprise is slated to deploy to the U.S. Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation as part of an ongoing rotation of U.S. forces supporting maritime security operations in international waters around the globe.

    Working with allied and partner maritime forces, the Enterprise and her accompanying strike group will focus heavily on maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts designed to maintain regional stability.

    The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group consists of approximately 5,500 Sailors and Marines who, during the last few months, successfully completed a series of complex training events and certifications to ensure they were capable of operating effectively and safely together.

    "This Strike Group is trained and ready for the full spectrum of operations," said Rear Adm. Ted Carter, commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group. "We're ready to maintain freedom of the sea lanes, project power if directed to do so, and certainly perform a presence mission."

    These skills, which will be vital as the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group travels to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), were recently tested during the carrier's Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).

    "During my time as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, I haven't sent a strike group underway that is as ready as you are," said Adm. John C. Harvey, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, while addressing the crew of Enterprise prior to the ship getting underway. "No one has done as much to get ready, worked as hard, and accomplished as much in every warfare area. You should be very proud of what you're going to be doing once you get to where you're going...where the business of the nation needs you."

    For Enterprise, the Navy's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the deployment represents the culmination of more than 50 years of distinguished service.

    Commissioned in 1961, the Enterprise is both the largest and oldest active combat vessel in the Navy.

    Enterprise's age, however, does not impact its effectiveness.

    "Enterprise is as ready and capable as she has ever been throughout her 50 years," said Capt. William C. Hamilton, Commanding Officer of Enterprise. "The ship and crew's performance during work-ups demonstrates that the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has never been more relevant."

    Throughout its storied history, Enterprise has played a role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, and was one of the first Navy assets deployed following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    The importance of the role Enterprise has played in both national and naval history is a fact not lost on the Sailors and Marines currently aboard the ship.

    "The crew is very mindful that we are following the legacy of the more than 200,000 Sailors who have come before us during the last 50 years," said Hamilton. "It's the Sailors of this great warship, and the Sailors that have served aboard Big E over the past half-century that have established the legacy she enjoys."

    Enterprise was designed in the late 50's for a 25-year lifespan, and the Nimitz-class carriers were designed for 50 years. "To effectively double the service life of a ship as complex as Enterprise speaks volumes about the design strengths of the world's first nuclear-powered carrier, the Navy's commitment to cost effectiveness, and our Sailors hard work and innovation throughout the last half-century to keep her going strong," said Hamilton.

    Enterprise is scheduled for deactivation and eventual decommissioning following its anticipated return later this year, marking the end of the carrier's legendary 50-plus years of service.

    The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group is comprised of Enterprise, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and guided-missile destroyers USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Nitze (DDG 94), and USS James E. Williams (DDG 95).

    CVW-1 is comprised of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123 and Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 11.

    For more information, visit The U.S. Navy, U.S. Navy - Government Organization - Washington, DC | Facebook, or US Navy (@USNavy) on Twitter.

    For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

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    Where will the USS Enterprise be docked after retirement?? Will it be open to public tours??

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    Quote Originally Posted by qnextt View Post
    Where will the USS Enterprise be docked after retirement?? Will it be open to public tours??
    She'll go to Newport News to be stripped of anything useful and then sliced up like a salami in order to remove her reactors.

    What's left of her will be scrapped. With any luck, her island will be removed and preserved as a museum. I'm hoping like hell that'll happen but I'm not holding my breath.

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    I'm sorry to see her go like this - she deserves better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    She'll go to Newport News to be stripped of anything useful and then sliced up like a salami in order to remove her reactors.
    So, I'm assuming naval reactor design is different than civilian reactor design? You can't just yank the fuel rods out of a naval reactor to deactivate it? I know on a civilian reactor, you can pull the fuel rods (but maybe leave the control rods in) to deactivate it, even though the reactor vessel will still be (mildly) radioactive.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitch View Post
    So, I'm assuming naval reactor design is different than civilian reactor design? You can't just yank the fuel rods out of a naval reactor to deactivate it? I know on a civilian reactor, you can pull the fuel rods (but maybe leave the control rods in) to deactivate it, even though the reactor vessel will still be (mildly) radioactive.
    They are fundamenatally the same - but the naval reactor is much smaller and more compact. The control rods are so integrated in the fuel assembly they would come out too - they would be in the way. The vessel is probably more radioactive than the core when the reactor is fully shut down - but it's radioactivity dies down very quickly compared to the core (it only takes a few decades to cool down to low levels). The naval reactor is made to be refueled inside the ship, so removing the fuel is not an issue. This will be the first CVN to be decom'd but the Enterprise is unique - she has eight early submarine type reactors. So the process for the reactors has probably been figured out with submarines. They will probably reprocess the fuel, and recycle anything they can (lots of valuable metals are used) - then entomb the vessel and other hot steel parts until they can be handled safely. I doubt we will get to see much of this - they are still very secretive about these systems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    She'll go to Newport News to be stripped of anything useful and then sliced up like a salami in order to remove her reactors.

    What's left of her will be scrapped. With any luck, her island will be removed and preserved as a museum. I'm hoping like hell that'll happen but I'm not holding my breath.
    Does she have to face so brutal end? Can't she experience the same destiny as USS Nautilus (SSN-571), being preserved and turned into a museum?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    Does she have to face so brutal end? Can't she experience the same destiny as USS Nautilus (SSN-571), being preserved and turned into a museum?
    Negative on that one. In order to get at the reactor vessels, they'll start at the flight down and begin cutting their way down.
    She'll look something like a Jack the Ripper victim when all is said and done. To put her back together again would prohibitively expensive, assuming it's even possible.

    Here's the other problem: A supercarrier museum is, in my amateur opinion, an impossibility...particularly in light of ships like Yorktown and Olympia.
    There are two many ships and not enough money. The Massachusetts museum needs several million dollars to repair her hull and at the moment they have zero.

    A supercarrier is simply too much ship for a museum organization to deal with, financially, without massive infusions of donations or subsidies. And both are in extremely short supply even in the best of times.

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