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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Enterprise


Boldness, energy, and invention in practical affairs.

VIII


(CVA(N)-65: displacement 85,600 tons (full load); length 1101'; beam 133'; extreme width 252'; draft 35'; speed 30+ knots; complement 4,600; class Enterprise)

History: 1996-2000


Enterprise conducted ISE off the Virginia capes (10–17 January 1996), then spent most of February at sea, including CompTuEx Phases I and II, 21 February–1 April. The deck department’s expanding the number of underway replenishment teams from two to four enabled Enterprise to refuel and handle cargo “concurrently.”


Enterprise pulled into St. Martin, Netherlands Antilles, 1–4 March 1996, after which she visited Port Everglades, from the 18th–21st. In April, the ship received three boat dollies from America as that carrier prepared for decommissioning, and steamed off the Virginia capes for ORSE, 2–5 April. No less than 21 U.S. and 24 British vessels participated in “simulated war scenarios and battle problems” in Combined Joint Fleet Exercise (CJTFEx) off the east coast, 16 April–16 May, CVW-17 performing “at a feverish pace.” In May, the ship became a test platform for an experimental paint designed to prevent rust streaking, which the ship’s company applied prior to deployment. Enterprise also converted her ships control displays from analog to digital, and integrating control inputs. However, she also had to stand out for HurrEx 96 (28 May–5 June).


Ultimately, Enterprise deployed from Norfolk on 28 June 1996. During TransLant 96, an ASW exercise, she coordinated “waterspace,” developing and testing undersea warfare (USW) tactics. Admiral Smith, CNE, and Vice Admiral Abbot, Com6thFlt, led a NATO entourage on board, at the beginning of the ship’s participation in Operation Decisive Endeavour, 16–22 July.  Coming about from the Adriatic, she pulled into Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 25–29 July. Lieutenant General Liener, Chief of Staff of the Swiss Army, visited the ship, on 2 August.


Upon entering Cannes, 5–9 August 1996, Enterprise’s “anchoring skills were put to the test,” as the depth was four times deeper than that previously experienced by this crew, requiring “an extremely vigilant anchor watch,” the anchor holding “firm.” Her sailors and marines discovered that things had changed since the ship’s last visit to Soudha Bay, and  “much preparation went into this overnight stay.” Limited Greek services for so large a ship meant that she required the assistance of extra tugs from Piraeus for the visit, 13–14 August.


Clearing Soudha Bay, Enterprise then participated in Juniper Hawk, a 6th Fleet exercise, from 22-29 August 1996. While in the Med, Enterprise was responsible for maintaining the “entire Med sub-surface picture” for the battle group staff. Additional communications systems installed, including Linked Operations Centers Europe (LOCE) and Global Broadcast System (GBS), enabled communication with other European Command (EuCom) assets. In particular, this deployment validated two systems: JMCIS, considered to be the “most useful systems tool,” and Joint Service Imagery Processing System-Navy (JSIPS-N), which “revolutionized afloat imagery processing procedures.” JSIPS-N was “so significant” that Enterprise became the national imagery processing facility for shore facilities, later including Naval Command, Central Command (NavCent), lacking this capability, enabling images formerly not available for days to be processed in hours. She also obtained battle force e-mail capabilities by the installation of a server and two client computer systems in Radio Central and Flag Operations. And while steaming in the Med, she completed a “colossal” underway replenishment of over 300 pallets. Many crewmembers in this deployment participated in community outreach projects ashore through Enterprise’s “attitude of gratitude,” sponsored by her Religious Ministries Department.


Supply Department’s Advanced Beach Detachment flew into Haifa, Israel, prior to Enterprise’s visit. However, the carrier’s intended anchorage was already occupied by another ship, imposing unnecessary delays, Enterprise anchoring three times before “settling” on the final position almost three miles from shore. Running the liberty boats ashore through the unprotected anchorage in what was often heavy surf proved a challenge for her coxwains, but as they gained handling experience, “less damage was inflicted on the boats.” Prime Minister and Mrs. Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel visited Enterprise, on 26 August 1996.


Clearing Haifa, Enterprise came about for a visit to Ródhos, 30 August–4 September 1996, then steamed into the Adriatic to again support the “No-Fly Zone” over Bosnia-Herzegovina. With increasing tensions in the Persian Gulf, however, due to repeated Iraqi violations of UN sanctions, Enterprise received word of her deployment to the north Arabian Sea a month ahead of her intended schedule. Consequently, the onloaded over 200 tons of material and mail as logistics flights increased while clearing out supplies at Sigonella, accomplishing their “biggest” underway replenishment of the deployment -- over 450 pallets.


Enterprise then “sprinted” from the Adriatic Sea, 12–19 September 1996. With her Advanced Beach Det stopping in Hurgada, Egypt, to facilitate logistics, the ship transited the Suez Canal on the 15th, continuing at an SOA of 30 knots through the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean.


Upon entering the Arabian Gulf, Enterprise integrated into the 5th Fleet, providing “real-time targeting coordination and traffic deconfliction in support of all warfare commanders.” In addition, all “non-organic assets” within the vicinity of the Enterprise CVBG were identified and monitored. Vice Admiral Fargo, Com5thFlt, came on board the ship on the 5th as she participated for the first time in Operation Southern Watch (OSW), since she had been in overhaul during the first several years of the operation.


While in the Indian Ocean, ice usage “skyrocketed,” forcing Enterprise to institute a conservation program for that cold commodity. The “monotony of patrol” was broken by a visit to Sitrah Anchorage, Bahrain, where the anchor dragged “for a while before it buried in the sand” in the shallow anchorage, 7–11 October 1996. Enterprise claimed this to be the first visit by a nuclear powered carrier to that port, and despite “calm seas,” boating proved difficult due to the 5,000 yards that lay between the ship and Mina’ Salman pier. Former Secretary of State James Baker and his wife, accompanying the Crown Prince of Bahrain, visited the ship on the 9th  during her stay. Sadly, by month’s end tragedy visited the ship, when a helo from HS-15 was lost at sea, with the loss of the three-man crew, on 25 October.


Mooring at Jebel Ali, U.A.E. (4–8 November 1996) proved not as rewarding for many crewmembers as other ports had been, in that though her Beach Detachment had made every effort to transform the shore compound into “a social area,” the crew found themselves restricted to the base complex. While there, the ship was visited by the Crown Prince of Jebel Ali.


After participating in Multi-national GulfEx 97-1 (10-12 November 1996), Enterprise headed toward the Med; her transit of the Suez Canal proved “uneventful,” on 25 November, and she anchored Thanksgiving Day at Naples, where she was visited by General Shalikashvili, Chairman of of the JCS, and his wife.  Inclement weather and “rough seas,” however, forced boating to be cancelled for the first three days, providing the ship’s food service division with the unexpected dilemma of serving double the number of expected Thanksgiving meals with only two hours notice, requiring 4,500 “rations.” Despite the weather, however, a daily average of six logistics helos maintained enabled the ship to maintain a posture of readiness. 


Enterprise sailed for home on 5 December 1996, embarking 676 Tigers at Bermuda for their cruise, (18–20 December), ultimately returning to Norfolk five days before Christmas of 1996, welcomed back by Secretary of the Navy John Dalton. Over 8,000 aircraft sorties had been flown from Enterprise during the deployment. The ship had steamed over 50,000 NM, holding 29 sea details while visiting 14 ports.  The ship’s power plants team issued 57 aircraft engines and completed 21 engine cannibalizations, including the first time that the F404-GE-400 and F110-GE-400 engines were run on the test cell. As such, the team also mounted a GTC-100 Air Turbine Starting Unit in the cell, the “prototype installation” for all other carriers in the Fleet. Concerns over A-6E and EA-6B rudder actuators meant that all 18 Intruders and Prowlers on board were tested accordingly. In addition, for the first time, “repair capabilities” for fixed wing Night Vision Goggle (NVG) Sensors and Helicopter Aviators’ Night Imaging System (ANVIS) were established. A total of 13,837 sorties were flown from Enterprise in 1996, culminating in 25,060 flight hours, and 13,198 traps, 8,150 day and 5,048 night, with one barricade, were recorded, together with 14,104 catapult launches. Approximately 30,700 visitors were on board during the year.


Following her post deployment standdown, Enterprise completed three days of carrier qualifications in January 1997, logging over 200 launches and recoveries. Despite inclement weather, Enterprise then offloaded all remaining ordnance, including 1,179 tons of precision guided munitions (PGMs), with Seattle (AOE-3) during “an intense” at sea transfer, 22–24 January. Following the offload, she spent most of the first half of 1997 in an Extended Selective Restricted Availability (ESRA) at Newport News Naval Shipyard, beginning on 28 February. An “aggressive” work package included a complete renovation of all four catapults, the entire flight deck, including replacing the non-skid, and overhauling all firefighting equipment. The VAST system was offloaded and replaced by the Consolidated Automated Support System (CASS) in seven CASS stations in two avionics shops. The MK 36 Decoy Launching System was also removed. In one of the most important changes to the composition of the ship’s company to date, the communications department renovated 76 spaces, including five berthing compartments, to accommodate female sailors of rates E-6 and below. In addition, they completed the installation of the Digital Voice Recording System (DVRS) and Single Channel Ground Airborne Radio System (SINGARS). The AN/SPN-43C Aircraft Marshalling Radar was also installed.


In March 1997, the “opportunity presented itself” to replace her motor whale boats with two Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) and a slewing articulated davit. Originally scheduled for FY 99, work began in May, retiring the whale boats and ending a 34 year legacy on board Enterprise, but “significantly” improving ready lifeboat capability. In the same general area, in early May, Enterprise was notified of a need by Kearsarge, which was deploying in five days but saddled with over 60 liferafts out of certification and needing replacing. Enterprise provided 54 liferafts to Kearsarge, receiving her own back from SIMA prior to sea trials.


Enterprise’s first sea detail since January consisted of a move to Norfolk in July 1997. She then conducted sea trials and flight deck certification (11–20 August 1997). She conducted the evaluation and testing of the SPS-48E air search radar, participated “in every available” SLAMEx, streaming Nixie, and USW training. Additional underway steaming allowed for FRS carrier qualifications, 11–19 September. Subsequently, during Advance Guard JRX 4-97, 22 September–1 October, Enterprise was tasked with ELINT data collection and dissemination, assisting “the JRX players” in locating “hostile platforms.” Some 1,200 Special Operations Force troops (SOF) were embarked on board, including “augmentees” from the National Security Operations Center.


Enterprise put into Mayport, during which time 6,500 visitors trod her decks (2–6 October 1997). She then continued south to participate in Broward County Navy Days, entering Port Everglades (6-12 October).  She spent the final four days at Ft. Lauderdale at anchor, forcing the deck department to shift to port and starboard duty sections to accommodate the large liberty parties. She received 22,375 visitors during her stay, returning to Norfolk on the 16th. Enterprise stood out for her Family and Friends Cruise on 18 October 1997, hosting over 2,000 guests. She then accomplished additional FRS carrier qualifications (23 October–3 November, and on Veteran’s Day hosted 3,300 visitors.


Enterprise was underway for additional carrier qualifications (3–15 December 1997), on the last day of that period merging her communications and information systems departments to form the information systems department (ISD), whose primary mission was to support all exterior communications by creating the fleet’s “first IT-21 capable aircraft carrier.” Enterprise completed over 4,500 catapult launches and recoveries during 1997, including 1,455 sorties, 1,019 day and 336 night, 4,302 traps, 3,438 day and 864 night, and over 700 shots and traps of student Naval Aviators. Carrier qualifications supporting Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) witnessed the first launch of a Boeing T-45A Goshawk from the “Big E” and the first expendable bridle launches of TA-4F/J Skyhawks.


Enterprise’s first at-sea periods of the new year 1998 (22 January–2 February) found her off Jacksonville, 20 February–5 March off the Virginia capes and 16–26 March, again off Jacksonville. During each period, she steamed up and down the eastern seaboard of the U.S., conducting carrier qualifications.  In addition, at the beginning of the second period, the ship rendezvoused with Nimitz, 750 NM into the Atlantic, as the latter was returning from her world cruise, spending two days onloading ammunition, followed by carrier qualifications into early April. From 16 April–1 May, CVW-3 onloaded for work-ups, V-3 Division experiencing “packed bay operations” with extensive maintenance requirements, the ship achieving “skin-to-skin kills” of a pair of BQM-7E targets with a dual RIM-7P launch on the 27th. Enterprise again stood out to sea for two days of steaming alongside a carrier onloading ammunition, this time with George Washington (4–6 May). 


Prior to deployment, Enterprise also received and certified her new test cell for the upgraded F110 engine, and installed the IT21 LAN system, one each for classified (SIPRNET) and unclassified (NIPRNET) applications, providing all hands with e-mail and web (internet) browsing. The Battle Group Information Exchange System (BGXIS), high speed UHF satellite data communications between attack submarines and Enterprise, was also installed. A recall of 80 liferafts due to defective inflation valves resulted in all being offloaded, repaired and returned shortly before work ups and deployment. A second accommodation ladder was installed on the fantail to expedite the offload of liberty parties.


In June 1998, Enterprise completed additional carquals off the Virginia capes, Cherry Point and Jacksonville Operating Areas, from the 8th–18th. The following month, Enterprise began Comprehensive Training Underway Exercise (CompTuEx), 15 July–21 August. The “Big E” conducted a second live NATO Sea Sparrow firing against a BQM-7E, on 26 July.  On that date, all three of her CIWS mounts blasted a TDU-34A target towed behind a Skyhawk. After punctuating her busy training regimen with a visit to St. Thomas (2–6 August), during CompTuEx, she destroyed a BQM-74E drone with a direct hit by her NATO Sea Sparrow, and a towed drone unit by mount No. 24 CIWS, before returning to Norfolk.


Hurricane Bonnie’s visit to the eastern seaboard compelled an emergency sortie on the night of 25 August 1998; with Com2ndFlt embarked, Enterprise brought up the rear, the “last ship out” of the base that presented “an eerie sight with all the piers empty,” subsequently experiencing 25 foot seas and winds in excess of 80 knots while steaming off the Virginia capes. The carrier then “led the fleet back in” on the 28th, returning to “a slightly damaged, and very empty Naval Base.”


Enterprise was at sea off Cherry Point for three weeks completing Joint Training Fleet Exercise (JTFEx) 98, off the North Carolina coast (18 September–5 October 1998). However, hurricanes were not finished with the “Big E” for the year, as another one swept through Puerto Rico in late September, postponing additional exercises in that area. 


Enterprise deployed from Norfolk on 6 November 1998.  Families endured the cold as she slipped away from the pier to the sounds of “On the Road Again” and the theme from the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ship spent the first four days of the deployment off the coast of Virginia, receiving and qualifying the air wing.


During night carquals on 8 November 1998, however, an EA-6B and an S-3B collided in the landing area, resulting in an immediate explosion and fire. A man fell overboard, and four naval aviators were killed, Lieutenant Commander Kurt W. Barich, and Lieutenant (jg)s Brendan J. Duffy, Charles E. Woodward and Meredith Loughran. One of the Viking crewmembers became entangled in his parachute in the island’s antennae. The ship sounded general quarters, the crash and salvage team responding immediately and initiating the application of fire extinguishing agent “within seconds” of the initial impact. Nonetheless, although the fire required seven minutes to extinguish, the team was able to limit damage to adjacent aircraft to those already ablaze, and no flight deck sailors were injured. After the crew stood down, the forward battle dressing station remained in operation as a “holding/treatment area” for the “walking wounded.” Altogether, one man from the Prowler died and 15 from different commands were injured. The following day, the two injured Viking crewmembers were transpoprted ashore to the Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va., for further treatment.  The destroyed S-3B was subsequently jettisoned. The crew held a memorial service for their fallen shipmates in hangar bay 1 at 0800 on the 11th.


Two days later, Enterprise received orders to proceed at “best speed” to the Arabian Gulf in response to a burgeoning crisis with the Iraqis. Crossing the Atlantic in four days at an SOA in excess of 30 knots, she transited the Strait of Gibraltar on 14 November 1998, anchoring at Port Said, on the 18th, after a “whirlwind” passage of the Med. Navigating through the Suez Canal the next day, she entered the Red Sea, then transited the Bab al Mandeb on the 21st. Crossing the Gulf of Aden, she ultimately entered the Strait of Hormuz on 23 November, relieving Dwight D. Eisenhower. During her passage, Enterprises sailors kept “outages to required circuits” down to less than 24 hours, a signal achievement considering the ship’s “shifting communications between three theaters in only ten days.”


Following her high speed transit to the Arabian Gulf, Enterprise participated in Operation Southern Watch, mooring at Jebel Ali, 4–9 December 1998. While there she hosted a reception for former President George H.W. Bush and “numerous dignitaries” in the hangar bay that Saturday, the 5th. On the 11th, General Anthony C. “Tony” Zinni, USMC, CentCom, visited the ship.


Operation Desert Fox, a four-day Coalition air campaign against Iraq in response to that country’s failure to cooperate with UN resolutions (16–20 December 1998) began when U.S. and British air and naval forces attacked 50 separate Iraqi military targets, from 0100–0430 on 16 December. “Cruise missiles were lighting the horizon” as vessels launched over 200 Raytheon R/UGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, with conventional, unitary warheads (TLAM-Cs, hereinafter referred to as TLAMs) against Iraqi military targets.


Enterprise launched over 70 USN and USMC strike and strike support aircraft, the first involving a 33 aircraft launch sequence plan. Experiencing “limited sea space, light winds, and large recoveries with low fuel state aircraft, the night was long” for her crew, as Enterprise “walked the line in avoiding Iranian territorial waters.” These “numerous” low fuel status aircraft required 26 tanking evolutions with “multiple tanking evolutions conducted concurrently.” Aircraft and TLAMs struck weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sites, 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, the heavy pounding they received reducing “both facilities to rubble.” There was no opposition from Iraqi aircraft.


Enterprise launched and recovered 297 combat sorties during 70 hours of operations, with CVW-3 aircraft dropping nearly 692,000 lb of ordnance, including 200 precision guided bombs, over 30 free-fall weapons and more than 80 anti-radiation missiles. AIMD support to the wing resulted in 85% mission capable aircraft flying 792.2 hours. The strikes posed unique operational challenges, such as “unexpended ordnance on recovery and large, non-coincident launch evolutions,” but the ship completed 100% of all planned sorties. In addition, the ship provided continuous monitoring of “an extremely difficult and dynamic target” for all strike forces, accomplishing the first “short-fused” planning and execution of a TLAM mission on board Enterprise. Ensuring maintenance of a cohesive data link and air picture of the Arabian Gulf and Iraq, her strike controllers also provided an accurate check of “Mode IV’s” IFF used to identify aircraft as friendly. The tempo was brisk, V-3 Division alone performing 95 aircraft moves and 43 elevator runs, and V-4 Division pumping 530,000 gallons of JP-5 into jets launched during the fighting. The crew soon learned to reverse routines, taking what little sleep they could during the day and “coming alive at sunset” to work through the night. Media coverage proved extensive, Enterprise’s Photo Lab providing over 200 photographs, and together with countless interviews, the ship found herself “at the center of the world stage for nearly four days, not a bad run by any standard.”


Carl Vinson arrived on station on the last night of the strikes, adding her muscle to the American response. After several days “to allow things to cool down” and to ensure that her relief became familiarized with the area, Enterprise received orders back to the Med. Coming about at the conclusion of the strikes on the 19th–20th, Enterprise hosted a daylight embark on the 23rd by Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Congressman John Murtha, and entertainers Mary Chapin Carpenter, Carole King and David Ball.  Enterprise then transited the Strait of Hormuz on Christmas Eve, passed through the Bab al Mandeb on the 28th, and entered the Red Sea the following day.


Enterprise began the New Year 1999 by transiting the Suez Canal. During her passage, her intelligence specialists began researching potential Serbian targets, as the ship’s commitment to operations in that theater was likely. Entering the Med, she visited Soudha Bay, 4–7 January 1999. Following Crete, the ship operated in the Aegean and then steamed to Antalya, Turkey, for a brief visit, 14–17 January. On 19 February, she received orders to proceed to the Adriatic Sea in support of Operation Deliberate Forge, NATO operations in support of Stablization Force (SFOR), established in response to the fighting in Kosovo, former Yugoslavia.


“Skills honed in the warmer waters of the Arabian Gulf,” one observer in Enterprise wrote, “were put to the test in the frigid conditions of the Adriatic in January.” In spite of the heat of the catapults, snow accumulated on the flight deck and weather decks, “deep enough to make a snow man.”  Enterprise’s Combat Direction Center devised an innovative concept of operations (CONOPs) in support of 24 hour maritime surveillance in the vicinity of the Yugoslav coastline. This CONOPs “fused” the Enterprise CVBG, LAMPS and shore based maritime patrol assets provided by TF 67 in a “comprehensive and coordinated effort.” This featured Enterprise’s first operations with P-3C ASUW Improvement Program aircraft and its imagery, JMCIS and enhanced weapons capabilities, and RQ-2A Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) video ground station on board the carrier to download “real time” imagery of the coastline. Her first line period in Deliberate Forge occurred between 20–24 January, after which time she paid a port visit to Livorno, Italy, 27 January–4 February, followed by an underway replenishment with cruiser Philippine Sea (CG-58) and then InvitEx Plus 99, an AAW, ASW and ASUW exercise with French, Italians and Dutch forces in the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, from the 5th–8th. In addition, a TDU trailed from a contract Lear Jet took a direct hit by CIWS Mount 24 during a practice shoot east of Sardinia, on 13 February.


Enterprise steamed westward for the French Riviera and the next liberty port, Cannes. However, as the crew streamed ashore just before lunchtime on 20 February 1999, they were “well aware of the deteriorating situation in Kosovo,” their fears confirmed barely three hours later when they beheld the emergency recall signal. The breakdown of the Ramboulliet Peace Talks and the approaching NATO ultimatum regarding Serbian withdrawal of their forces from Kosovo necessitated her immediate return. Early the next day the ship slipped her lines and began a full speed “run” toward the Adriatic.


Arriving on station Enterprise brought her aircraft “to bear” on the deteriorating situation on the ground in Kosovo for her second line period there, 22–26 February 1999. Again her CONOPs “coordinated surveillance and defensive efforts” between TF 60, the French Foch TF and NATO Standing Naval Forces Med. Enterprise’s operations during these line periods were the prelude for Operation Allied Force, beginning after her departure for Southwest Asia. Following a week of operations, the ship visited Trieste, Italy (27 February–2 March). An S-3B made an emergency landing at Ovda, Israel, in early March, where the crash and salvage team configured the Viking so that the damaged main mount could be repaired, installed, and “back up flying again.” Enterprise then participated in Juniper Stallion, an exercise with Israeli forces (7–12 March).


Coming about, Enterprise transited the Suez Canal on 14 March 1999, and passed through the Bab al Mandeb into the Indian Ocean on 16 March. Sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on the 19th, she entered the Arabian Gulf, “dodging uncharted oil rigs” and taking station in support of Southern Watch with Response Option strikes (19–24 March); during the latter part of that time, destroyer Paul F. Foster (DD-964) lost her helo from HSL-43 Det 5, on 23 March. Though the crew escaped, the ship sent out a call for a chaplain presence, and Enterprise launched her “Holy Helo,” taking the chaplain to the destroyer to counsel and lead “worship celebrating with thanksgiving the sacredness of life” for the survivors.


Enterprise visited Jebel Ali, where the deck department repainted the exterior of the ship, (25–28 March 1999). Clearing that harbor, she conducted flight operations supporting Southern Watch through 12 April.


The “Big E” came about from the Arabian Gulf, navigating the Strait of Hormuz on 13 April, relieved by Kitty Hawk. Rounding the Arabian Peninsula and transiting the Bab al Mandeb (named facetiously by her crew as the “Barbara Mandrell Straits” after the singer) on 16 April, she passed through the Suez Canal on the 19th, standing into the Med.  To “everyone’s relief” the “Rock” of Gibraltar came into view (25–26 April), and the ship entered the Atlantic on the 26th. After dropping off CVW-3 and embarking Tigers at Mayport, and pausing to assist in a Coast Guard SAR of a disabled civilian sailboat off the coast of North Carolina, she reached Norfolk, on 6 May 1999.


During this deployment (1998–99), Catapult No. 1 made its 125,000th shot, and Enterprise launched and recovered 6,087 sorties, 3,764 day and 2,323 night. Enterprise launched and recovered over 13,400 fixed wing and some 1,415 rotary sorties. Over 2,000 aircraft launches were accomplished with live ordnance in support of Southern Watch and Desert Fox. Enterprise was at sea for 174 days, steaming over 50,000 NM, completing 22 moorings and 25 anchorages, and offloading 680,000 gallons of JP-5 to three of her escorts. The ship completed 13 underway replenishments, including three refuelings to destroyers Gonzales (DDG-66) and Nicholson (DD-982), 12 moorings and eight anchorages.


During this cruise CVW-3 (Tail Code AC) comprised VF-32 (F-14Bs), VFAs-37 and 105 (F/A-18Cs), VMFA-312 Checkerboards (F/A-18Cs, original Tail Code DR), VAQ-130 (EA-6Bs), VAW-126 (E-2Cs), VS-22 (S-3Bs), VQ-6 Det A (ES-3A), VRC-40 Det 4 (C-2A), and HS-7 (HH/SH-60F/Hs).


During the deployment, the AN/WSC-8(V) Challenge Athena Satellite antenna experienced loss of “modem synch” at high speeds. “Extensive troubleshooting” determined that the platform and sponson were vibrating at resonant frequencies equal to the ship’s blade rate at high speeds. Thanks to the ingenuity of the sailors responsible, a replacement was installed early in 2000. This was also the first deployment for the crew utilizing IT21 technology, including e-mail and internet access, both NIPRNET and SIPRNET, together with NetMeeting tools.


From 20 June–31 December 1999, Enterprise completed ESRA 99, at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and then from 13 August, at her builders’ yard, returning to Norfolk on 18 December. One of the objectives of ESRA 99 was implementation of Y2K, “compliance of all critical systems,” to ensure their operation into the 21st Century. Additionally, following its deployment with Theodore Roosevelt to the 6th Fleet, including participation in Operation Allied Force, where it was the first air wing to deploy the AGM-154A Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) in combat in the Med, CVW-8 (Tail Code AJ), was reassigned to Enterprise, on 1 November 1999.



12 September 2005