Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Greatest Veteran of the Cold War

by Phil Gardocki

This is note to honor the passing of one of the greatest veterans of the Cold War, CVN-65, USS Enterprise. 
Enterprise is a time honored name.  Though the US holds the dominant franchise on the name, warships holding that name have been found in the French and English navies as well.  The name captured the imagination of geeks worldwide in the sixties when Gene Roddenberry named his starship Enterprise. 
When built, the Enterprise had a number of new features.  She was the first aircraft carrier powered by nuclear reactors. Instead of rotating search radar, her island sported one of the world’s first “phased array” radars, giving her a 360 view without any gaps in the updated imagery.  This unique piece of naval architecture made the Enterprise stand out in many a movie where carrier footage was required.  Her last appearance was in the movie “American Warships”, where she was sunk in the first 5 minutes, only to be mysteriously resurrected, and resunk at the end of the flick.
My own personal encounter with the Big ‘E’ was early one morning in 1977.  I was walking from my bunk to the mess deck for breakfast.  I opened the port side hatch, and there she was, and 200 feet away.  Apparently we were refueling from her, for while the carrier was nuclear powered, almost none of her escorts were and she had dedicated fuel tanks for them.  I quickly ran back to my bunk, grabbed my Olympus, and snapped this photo.

Somewhere in the West Pacific, the Enterprise serves the cause of freedom.
As photographed by the author.

The Enterprise was one of the first responders to 911.  On September 11, she was in route to Cape Town, South Africa, while watching a U.S. morning news show live, although locally in the early evening, the crew saw the terrorist attacks by the al Qaeda terrorist network against New York's World Trade Center and on the Pentagon. On his own initiative, the Task Force's Admiral ordered Enterprise to turn around and head back to the waters off Southwest Asia. She was the first ship to arrive on station 100 miles south of Pakistan. Over the next few weeks, USS Enterprise conducted combat flight operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom executing primarily night strike flight operations, including a period of 36 hours continuous of flight operations.
Farewell Enterprise, you will be missed. 
Here is a link to a YouTube honorium of Enterprise with Julia Ecklar singing her song “Enterprise.”  I heartily recommend listening to this.
On  Dec 1, 2012,
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, in a video played towards the end of the ceremony, announced that CVN 80, third ship of the new GERALD R. FORD-class carriers, will be named ENTERPRISE, thus becoming the ninth American naval ship to bear the name.

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