The Final Voyage of the USS Enterprise


The USS Enterprise has left Virginia for its last voyage. In this picture, Barbette Timperlake captured a sense of the end of an era.

When the makers of “Top Gun” were filming on board the USS 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 (March 11, 2012)

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 theearth.

“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 strike group. “Fifty years of service, in our nation’s history, we’ve never had a warship in service that long.”

The 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.

In the interview with Col. Weisz, 2nd ESG Deputy Commander, the role of the Enterprise in Bold Alligator was highligthed:

Another interesting aspect of the exercise was the integration of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) into BA 12; this was an important training and educational element for all involved in the exercise, particularly for the ESG-2 and 2d MEB staffs.

The ENTERPRISE Carrier Strike Group provided VADM Buss, the Commander of the Combined Force Maritime Component Command, with both aviation and surface capabilities that significantly contributed to the littoral fight.

Often forgotten is the robust capabilities that the Cruiser-Destroyer (CruDes) assets possess who are also part of the Carrier Strike Group; these CruDes capabilities are truly significant and are much needed in the littoral operating area, especially when you are conducting ops in a medium threat anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) type environment as we did.

At the same time, it is just incredible how much strike, ISR, EW and C2 capabilities that the entire CSG can bring to bear in a fight.  Having a CSG by your side as you begin your amphibious assault is very comforting to the Amphibious Task Force and Landing Force Commanders.

We just need to conduct more of these types of integrated training opportunities in the future.  It is the way we are going in the future; it’s the way ahead.