The USS Enterprise is expected to return to Norfolk, VA, today – from her final deployment. She will be decommissioned on 1 December 2012.
The USS Enterprise was commissioned in November 1961. At the time of her decommissioning, she will have served the US Navy for in excess of 51 years. No other carrier has served the Navy as long.
The USS Enterprise was the US Navy’s first nuclear-powered carrier, and is still today the longest warship in the world. She has seen duty in virtually every major US naval operation or conflict from the Cuban Missile Crisis to today’s hostilities in Afghanistan.
Every ship eventually reaches end of life. But this one has indeed been special.
Sadly, because of her design it will likely not be possible to convert the USS Enterprise into a museum after decommissioning. Her design included eight nuclear reactors. The extensive disassembly of the ship necessary to allow removal of her eight reactors and associated equipment will likely make conversion to a museum afterwards impractical.
In the end, though, the final disposition of her steel hull is not what really matters. What does matter is the service – and the history – the USS Enterprise gave this nation and the Navy. So long as there is a US Navy, that history will be remembered and treasured.
Welcome home one last time, grand lady.