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CVN-65 Enterprise

At the commissioning of ENTERPRISE on September 24, 1960, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was the mightiest warship to ever sail the seas. Enterprise is the longest carrier in the Navy at 1,123 feet. It is also the tallest (250 feet) and fastest (30+ nautical miles per hour) carrier in the fleet. She was built with a distinctive square island supporting phased-array radars and a complex EW system.

In August 1962 ENTERPRISE joined the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, and made its second and third deployments to the Mediterranean in 1963 and 1964. During the latter deployment, on May 13, the world's first nuclear-powered task force was formed when USS LONG BEACH and USS BAINBRIDGE joined ENTERPRISE. On July 31, the three ships were designated Task Force One and sent on "Operation Sea Orbit," a historic 30,565-mile voyage around the world, accomplished without a single refueling or replenishment. She was the first nuclear ship to enter combat when her aircraft struck targets in Vietnam, and she assisted in the evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam conflict.

In October 1964 ENTERPRISE returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for its first refueling and overhaul. ENTERPRISE returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in 1970 for an overhaul and second refueling. Following the 1973 cease-fire in Vietnam, ENTERPRISE proceeded to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., where "Big E" was altered and refitted to support the Navy's newest fighter aircraft -- the F-14A "Tomcat."

The years 1979 to 1982 were spent at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard receiving a reconstructed island and numerous improvements. When first completed the island of the Enterprise had a very unique shaped structure consisting of a dome shaped top resting on a box, supporting SPS-32 and 33 radars, plus many ECM antennas, which were located on all four sides and top dome of the ship. These were all removed during retrofit, and the island was completely altered to resemble the island of Kitty Hawk class carriers. And in October 1990 ENTERPRISE moved to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for refueling and the Navy's largest complex overhaul ever attempted, being updated for service through 2015. ENTERPRISE completed its overhaul, the most extensive in U.S. Naval history, on Sept. 27, 1994.

In mid-January 1995, "Big E" returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for a five month Selected Restricted Availability. The yard period involved upgrades to all of the combat and communications systems, intelligence suites, command and control capabilities, ventilation systems, berthing and dining areas, and underway replenishment equipment. In January 1997 Big "E" returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for a six month Selected Restricted Availability. The focus of the yard period was habitability upgrades and various combat systems. An extended overhaul for the Enterprise began at Newport News Shipbuilding in 1999 and continued through mid-year 2000.

Upon her planned replacement by CVX-78 in 2013 she will be 52 years old.


Power Plant Eight nuclear reactors, four shafts
Length, overall 1,101 feet 2 inches (335.64 meters)
Flight Deck Width 252 feet (75.6 meters)
Beam 133 feet (39.9 meters)
Displacement 89,600 tons (80,640 metric tons) full load
Speed 30+ knots (34.5 miles per hour)
Aircraft 85
Crew Ship's Company: 3,350 - Air Wing 2,480
Armament Sea Sparrow missiles
3 Phalanx CIWS 20mm mounts
Combat Systems SPS-48C/E
3 Mk91 Fire Control

Unit Operating Cost
Annual Average
~$220,000,000 [source: [FY1996 VAMOSC]


Name Number Builder Homeport Ordered Commissioned Stricken
Enterprise CVN 65 Newport NewsNorfolk15 Nov 195725 Nov 19612013

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Tuesday, May 09, 2000 7:20:58 AM