Presidential Sailors

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On this President’s Day weekend, we’re taking a look at the Sailors who went from shipmates to presidents.

WASHINGTON (Feb. 16, 2018) A graphic illustration depicting the Presidents who have served in the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy graphic by Kirsten Sisson/Released)
WASHINGTON (Feb. 16, 2018) A graphic illustration depicting the Presidents who have served in the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy graphic by Kirsten Sisson/Released)


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Presidential Sailors

How’s Your U.S. Navy “Big E” Trivia?

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From Naval History and Heritage Command
Communication and Outreach Division

On Feb. 3, 2017, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the eighth ship to bear the name, was formally decommissioned. For some it can be a sad day to see a ship retire, but for others it is a time to celebrate. We’re in the latter category. Especially since there’s so much to celebrate. Having steamed more than a million miles – that’s about 40 trips around the planet at the equator – and participated in every major operation of her age, Enterprise’s story is an amazing one! So put on your thinking caps and show us how well you know the story of the “Big E.”

Q: What was the first type of aircraft to make an arrested landing aboard Enterprise?

A: Enterprise went to sea for the first time as a commissioned ship for her shakedown cruise, on Jan. 12, 1962. During this underway period she began fleet flight operations, when Commander George C. Talley, Jr., Commander Air Group (CAG), Carrier Air Group (CVG)-1 (Tail Code AB), made an arrested landing and catapult launch in a Ling Temco Vought F-8B Crusader (BuNo 145375) from Fighter Squadron (VF) 62 on Jan. 17.

Learn more about the early days of USS Enterprise.

Commander George Talley lands his Vought F8U-1 Crusader (Bu# 145375) on board, January 17, 1962. This was the ship's first landing. Note phased array radars on island.
Commander George Talley lands his Vought F8U-1 Crusader (Bu# 145375) on board, January 17, 1962. This was the ship’s first landing. Note phased array radars on island.

Q: How many combat deployments did Enterprise make in support of the Vietnam War?

A: As 1966 began, Enterprise had been on deployment for about a month – the first nuclear powered ship to engage in combat operations. That 1966 deployment would be the first of six combat deployments to Southeast Asia in support of the Vietnam War. Some of the stories from these deployments are truly hair-raising and in many cases heroic by all measures.

Read more about the first few of Enterprise’s combat deployments.

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The nuclear-powered Attack Carrier USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN-65) steams into the wind of the South China Sea as she launches an A-4 Skyhawk jet bomber on its way to an air strike in North Vietnam, 28 May 1966.

Q: During her 51 years of active service, how many Sailors served aboard Enterprise?

A: When the ship returned to its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, from its final deployment Nov. 4, 2012, she had deployed a total of 25 times and participated in every major conflict since the Cuban Missile Crisis and had become the home to more than 100,000 Sailors. Enterprise has been homeported in both Alameda, California, and Norfolk, and conducted operations in every region of the world.

For more information about the life of this storied ship, check out the notable ships page on the website of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

NORFOLK (Nov. 4, 2012) Port operations personnel stand ready for line handling as the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) arrives at Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alice C. Hall/Released)
NORFOLK (Nov. 4, 2012) Port operations personnel stand ready for line handling as the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) arrives at Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alice C. Hall/Released)

Q:   What was the first aircraft carrier to deploy with the F-14 Tomcat?

A: Of course, it’s Enterprise! On Aug. 12, 1973, Enterprise entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. Among projects completed during her extended selected restricted availability (ESRA) were repairs and alterations to enable the ship to operate Grumman F-14A Tomcats. Equipped with AIM-54A Phoenix air-to-air missiles, Tomcats could engage targets up to 100 miles out.

Find out more about the ship’s life in the early 70s.

Aboard USS ENTERPRISE CVAN-65. The squadron marking on this aircraft is the same as the original VF-2 aircraft on the first carrier, USS LANGLEY.
Aboard USS ENTERPRISE CVAN-65. The squadron marking on this aircraft is the same as the original VF-2 aircraft on the first carrier, USS LANGLEY.

Q:  How does an aircraft carrier pull a Houdini?

A: With a little help from her friends. During the Cold War Enterprise, like many large Navy ships, was nearly always shadowed by sometimes troublesome Soviet spy ships. In February 1977, a Soviet rocket cruiser was making a nuisance of himself when Enterprise and USS Long Beach (CGN 9) teamed up to give the bear the slip for three days. The secret to their success? Complete reliance on satellite communications and maintaining a strict emissions control (EmCon) posture. 

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) Underway off Southern California, Dec. 11, 1978. Photographed by PH3 Ted Kappler. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.
USS Enterprise (CVN-65) Underway off Southern California, Dec. 11, 1978. Photographed by PH3 Ted Kappler. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

Q: On April 28, 1983, while returning home from deployment, CVN-65 ran aground. Who was the Enterprise helmsman onboard the ship that day?

A: Lt. Cmdr. Hikaru Sulu, Starfleet. Okay trick question! But it’s true: Actor George Takei, who portrayed the helmsman of the fictional starship Enterprise was aboard that day, but he was not at the helm. The accompanying photos are of a die cast model of the starship, which is one of many Star Trek related artifacts collected by the ship for which the starship is named. The model became a part of the artifact collection of the Naval History and Heritage Command in 2006. Oh, and the grounding was temporary and the ship got underway a few hours later as the tide rose. During the cruise, the ship’s air wing, CVW-11, had flown approximately 29,000 hours and recorded over 11,000 traps.

Find out more about the early 1980’s history of Enterprise.

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Q: In what decade did Enterprise become the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal?

A: The 1980’s. Beginning at 3 a.m. on April 29, 1986, Enterprise became the first nuclear powered carrier to transit the Suez Canal. When she exited the north end of the canal 3:14 p.m. when she entered the Med for the first time in almost 22 years.

Read more about life on Enterprise in the late 80’s.

The US Navy's nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Suez Canal. Enterprise, is transiting the Suez Canal and Red Sea enroute to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch.
The US Navy’s nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Suez Canal. Enterprise, is transiting the Suez Canal and Red Sea enroute to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch.

Q: In what year did Enterprise receive its first local area network (LAN)?

A: 1993, during which Enterprise was entering her third year in overhaul. One of the most important changes to Enterprise during that time was the installation of a Local Area Network (LAN), involving the running of thousands of feet of cable, both coaxial and fiber optic. The ship still had more than a year of overhaul to complete before leaving the shipyard on Sept. 27, 1994.

Read more about the overhaul and how the ship’s crew maintained its combat edge.

A port quarter view of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) undergoing overhaul at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation on the James River.
A port quarter view of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) undergoing overhaul at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation on the James River.

Q: How many pounds of ordnance did Enterprise aircraft drop on Iraq in the four days Operation Desert Fox?

A: 692,000 pounds. Operation Desert Fox was a coalition air campaign against Iraq Dec. 16-20, 1998, in response to that country’s failure to cooperate with United Nations resolutions. Enterprise launched more than 70 Navy and Marine Corps strike and strike support aircraft. Targets included weapons facilities, security sites and forces, integrated air defense and airfields, and Iraqi command and control infrastructure. Direct hits ripped apart an Iraqi military intelligence center, and four of the five barracks housing a Republican Guard H.Q. were demolished. There was no opposition from Iraqi aircraft. Enterprise launched and recovered 297 combat sorties during 70 hours of operations, with CVW-3 aircraft dropping 200 precision guided bombs, more than 30 free-fall weapons and more than 80 anti-radiation missiles.

Read more about Enterprise’s final days in the 20th century.

The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) makes its way to the southern end of its operating area the morning after the first wave of air strikes against Iraq during Desert Fox.
The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) makes its way to the southern end of its operating area the morning after the first wave of air strikes against Iraq during Desert Fox.

Q: Where was Enterprise on Sept. 11, 2001.

A: She had just left the Arabian Gulf, only two days earlier having conducted strikes against Iraq as part of Operation Southern Watch. She was headed south to Capetown for exercises with the South African Navy. Upon learning of the attacks on America, she turned around and charged north to a position 100 miles south of Pakistan. She was quickly joined by a large force of American and coalition ships and just a few weeks after the attack, she went into combat once again completing the final few weeks of her deployment before heading home. During that time, the ship flew around the clock for 18 consecutive days, dropping more than 829,150 pounds of ordnance on al Qaeda and Taliban targets. The ship completed 10,111 incident free launches and arrestments. A total of 13,624 sorties (8,182 day and 5,442 night) were flown from the deck of Enterprise in 2001, resulting in 28,262 flight hours (17,495 day and 10,767 night). By the time she returned home to a grateful nation on Nov. 10, 2001, she had steamed 90,426 nautical miles, conducting six moorings, 22 anchorages and 48 underway replenishments.

Find out more about Enterprise in a new century.

An F-14 "Tomcat" from the "Black Aces" of Fighter Squadron Four One (VF-41) roars off the flight deck of USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Sept. 12, 2001. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Clifford L. H. Davis/Released)
An F-14 “Tomcat” from the “Black Aces” of Fighter Squadron Four One (VF-41) roars off the flight deck of USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Sept. 12, 2001. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Clifford L. H. Davis/Released)


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How’s Your U.S. Navy “Big E” Trivia?

Ships Named Enterprise: For More Than 240 Years, They’ve Boldly Served America’s Navy

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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood
Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

During the Dec. 1, 2012 inactivation ceremony of CVN-65, the eighth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name Enterprise, then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the legacy of “Big E” would continue, officially naming the third Gerald R. Ford-class carrier, CVN-80, USS Enterprise. As the Navy formally decommissioned its immediate predecessor Feb. 3, 2017, it’s appropriate to look back at each of the mighty ships that have born the name; whose greatness was earned by the integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness of the Sailors who have served in them.

As we say fair winds to CVN-65, and welcome in the new era of CVN-80, the ninth ship to carry the name Enterprise, let’s take a look back at the making of the legacy.

Enterprise I (1775-1777)

The first Enterprise was originally a British ship named George. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65's official website.
The first Enterprise was originally a British ship named George. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65’s official website.

The first Enterprise originally belonged to the British and was named George. She cruised on Lake Champlain and supplied English posts in Canada. On May 18, 1775, Col. Benedict Arnold captured the ship, renamed her Enterprise and outfitted her with guns and thereafter defended American supply routes in New England from British attacks. The ship was one of many that embarked more than 1,000 troops in August that year as part of an expedition against three Canadian cities: St. Johns, Montreal and Quebec. British reinforcements caused the Americans to retreat. Regrouping in October, Arnold’s soldiers disrupted the British invasion into New York. Enterprise was one of only five ships to survive the two-day battle. The following year, the British would be defeated at Saratoga, New York, which helped bring about a French alliance with the colonists, and with them, their powerful navy. Enterprise, however, wasn’t around for the Battle of Saratoga. The sloop had been run aground on July 7, 1777, during the evacuation of Ticonderoga and was burned to prevent its capture.

Enterprise II (1776-1777)

The second Enterprise was an 8-gun schooner. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65's official website.
The second Enterprise was an 8-gun schooner. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65’s official website.

The second Enterprise, a schooner, was a successful letter-of-marque before she was purchased Dec. 20, 1776, for the Continental Navy. Commanded by Capt. Joseph Campbell, Enterprise operated principally in Chesapeake Bay. She convoyed transports, carried out reconnaissance and guarded the shores against foraging raids by the British. Only meager records of her service have been found; they indicate she was apparently returned to the Maryland Council of Safety before the end of February 1777.

Enterprise III (1799-1823)

The third USS Enterprise was a 12-gun schooner.
The third USS Enterprise was a 12-gun schooner.

The third Enterprise was the schooner used to capture the pirate ships during the Barbary Wars. At her time of service, anti-piracy operations were a major part of the Navy’s mission. American shipping vessels were frequently attacked in the Caribbean, and the Navy was tasked with fighting them. It was her commanding officer, Lt. Stephen Decatur Jr., who pulled off the daring expedition to burn the frigate Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli in 1804. She would be refitted as a brig during the War of 1812. On Sept. 5, 1813, Enterprise chased down the British brig Boxer in a close-combat battle that took the lives of both ships’ commanding officers, Lt. William Burrows and Capt. Samuel Blyth. From 1815 to 1823, Enterprise suppressed smugglers, pirates and slavers until July 9, 1823, the ship became stranded and broke up on Little Curacao Island in the West Indies, without any loss of her crew.

Enterprise IV (1831-1844)

The fourth Enterprise was a 10-gun schooner. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65's official website.
The fourth Enterprise was a 10-gun schooner. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65’s official website.

The fourth Enterprise was a schooner built by the New York Navy Yard where it launched on Oct. 26, 1831. Its original complement was nine officers and 63 men and, for most of its life, it protected U.S. shipping around the world. After spending time guarding American interests near Brazil, the schooner spent time in the Far East (Africa, India and East Indies). She was back cruising South America until March 1839 when she left Valparaiso, Chile, to round the Horn, make a port call at Rio de Janeiro, and then head north to Philadelphia, where she was inactivated on July 12. Recommissioned a few months later, Enterprise sailed from New York back to South America on March 16, 1840. After four years, she returned to the Boston Navy Yard, decommissioned June 24, 1844, and sold four months later.

Enterprise V (1877-1909)

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CAPTION: The fifth USS Enterprise anchored off New York City during the early 1890s. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

The fifth Enterprise was a bark-rigged screw sloop-of-war. She was built at the Portsmouth Naval Yard in Maine by John W. Griffith, launched June 13, 1874, and commissioned March 16, 1877. Decommissioned and recommissioned several times, she primarily surveyed oceans, littoral areas and river founts around the world, including the Amazon and Madeira Rivers. When not on hydrographic survey cruises, she spent time sailing the waters of Europe, the Mediterranean and east coast of Africa. From 1891 to 1892, Enterprise was the platform on which cadets at the Naval Academy trained and practiced. Then, she was lent to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for duty as a maritime school ship for 17 years. Returned to the Navy on May 4, 1909, Enterprise was sold five months later.

Enterprise VI (1916-1919)

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The sixth Enterprise was a 66-foot motor patrol craft purchased by the Navy on Dec. 6, 1916. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65’s official website.

The sixth Enterprise (No. 790), a 66-foot motorboat, was purchased by the Navy on Dec. 6, 1916. Placed with the 2nd Naval District on Sept. 25, 1917, the noncommissioned motorboat performed harbor tug duties at Newport, Rhode Island, before going to New Bedford, Massachusetts, Dec. 11, 1917. The motorboat was transferred to the Bureau of Fisheries Aug. 2, 1919.

Enterprise VII (1938-1947)

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USS Enterprise (C 6), was the most decorated ship in U.S. Navy history when she was decommissioned in 1946.

Once again a proper warship, this time a Yorktown-class carrier, Enterprise (CV 6) earned her nickname – Big E. In World War II, she earned 20 battle stars, the most for any U.S. warship in World War II, for the crucial roles she played in numerous battles, including Midway, Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf and the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. During the Battle of Guadalcanal, Enterprise took three direct hits, killing 74 and wounding 95 crew members. It was the Enterprise that took on the Hornet’s aircraft after that carrier was abandoned during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Island Oct. 26, 1942. By the end of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on Nov. 15, Enterprise had shared in sinking 16 ships and damaging eight more. After an overhaul for much of 1943, Enterprise was back in the fight when, on Nov. 26, 1943, the Big E introduced carrier-based night fighter operations in the Pacific. The Big E suffered the last of her damage on May 14, 1945, after a kamikaze plane struck the ship near her forward elevator, killing 14 and wounding 34 men. The most decorated ship in U.S. naval history entered the New York Naval Shipyard on Jan. 18, 1946, for inactivation and was decommissioned Feb. 17, 1947. She was sold July 1, 1958.

Enterprise VIII (1961-2017)

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Artist’s rendition of the eighth USS Enterprise

In 1954, Congress authorized the construction of the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the eighth U.S. ship to bear the name Enterprise. The giant ship was to be powered by eight nuclear reactors, two for each of its four propeller shafts. This was a daring undertaking, for never before had two nuclear reactors ever been harnessed together. As such, when the engineers first started planning the ship’s propulsion system, they were uncertain how it would work, or even if it would work according to their theories. Three years and nine months after construction began, Enterprise (CVN 65) was ready to present to the world as “The First, The Finest” super carrier, and the construction was proven capable. Her long career, consisting of 25 deployments and 51 years of service to the United States, has been well documented and this space can’t begin to list her accomplishments, but those can be found here at the Naval History and Heritage Command’s website and in libraries across the country. The ship was inactivated Dec. 1, 2012; and decommissioned Feb. 3, 2017, following nuclear defueling, dismantlement and recycling.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Feb. 3, 2017) Capt. Todd A. Beltz, commanding officer, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), and Command Master Chief Dwayne Huff pose with the commissioning pennant during the Enterprise decommissioning ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Preston/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Feb. 3, 2017) Capt. Todd A. Beltz, commanding officer, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), and Command Master Chief Dwayne Huff pose with the commissioning pennant during the Enterprise decommissioning ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Preston/Released)

In the 241 years that have followed the signing of the Declaration of Independence, America’s Navy has had a ship in the fleet called Enterprise for all but 103. It’ll be about ten more years before we have another, and that one is expected to serve her nation for more than another half a century.


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Ships Named Enterprise: For More Than 240 Years, They’ve Boldly Served America’s Navy

Worth A Thousand Words: Say Goodbye Girls

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Photo: A Marine bids farewell to his wife and two daughters as elements of the famed Second Marine Division leave for the West Coast. Official U.S. Marine Corps Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

A Marine bids farewell to his wife and two daughters as elements of the famed Second Marine Division leave for the West Coast, Aug. 1950. (U.S. Marine Corps photo courtesy of Naval History & Heritage Command/Released)

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Worth A Thousand Words: Say Goodbye Girls