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Enterprise VIII (CVAN-65)


(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)

Boldness, energy, and invention in practical affairs.


History: 1981-1985
In May 1981, Enterprise saw helicopter operations for the first time in over two years, and the following month her arresting gear again became operational. JP-5 was pumped to the flight deck for the first time on almost three years, in October 1981.

This was also the first time in her history that the ship’s prototype nuclear reactor propulsion plant received a complete overhaul, the magnitude of the project later noted succinctly by her skipper: “Continued intricate testing of the ship’s reactor equipment extended the overhaul into 1982.” The total cost of her overhaul was approximately $276 million.

Beginning in January 1982, CVW-11 transitioned from carrier America to Enterprise. Incorporated into the wing were five new squadrons: VAs-22 and 94 (A-7Es), VS-37 (S-3As), VAW-117 (E-2Cs), and HS-6 (SH-3Hs). Already assigned were: VF-114 and VF-213 (F-14As), VA-95 (A-6Es), and VAQ-133 (EA-6Bs). Vice Admiral Schoultz was on board as well, 18–19 January, followed on the 21st by Under Secretary of the Navy James F. Goodrich.

To the sounds of country and western singer Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” piped through the ship’s 1MC communication system, Enterprise got underway from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, at 0959:58 on 2 February 1982. “I know I promised you a week ago to be underway from Pier 2 at 1000 on 2 February,” the skipper afterward joked with the crew, “Well, we didn’t meet that schedule. We were two seconds early.”

Enterprise stood out for a week of sea trials. Preceded by a fast cruise (25 January–-1 February 1982) she completed her sea trials satisfactorily, returning to Bremerton on the 8th. Embarking “dependents, pets and automobiles” (422, 76 and 944, respectively), Enterprise conducted Operation Southwest Passage, the return to Alameda, 11-–13 February 1982. Glibly dubbed Noah’s Ark by her crew, the carrier sported a “pet motel” on the fantail to accommodate the animals. On hand to greet the crew when they returned to their homeport for the first time in almost three years were Mayors Dianne Feinstein, Lionel Wilson and C.J. Corica, of San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda, respectively.

From 21 February-–3 March 1982, Enterprise completed workups in the southern California operating area, accomplishing her first post-overhaul aircraft landing on 22 February, and her first catapult launch on the 27th. Rear Admiral Joseph J. Barth, Jr., ComCarGru-3, embarked on board Enterprise on 12 March (being relieved by Rear Admiral Edwin R. Kohn, Jr., on 30 October).

During the seven-month period between her return to California and her WestPac deployment, Enterprise spent 87 days at sea, primarily in the southern California operating area.  She conducted refresher training (15–19 March 1982), numerous carrier qualifications (during which, in April an A-7 Corsair II made the ship’s seventh successful barricade arrestment), exercised her TARPS capabilities for the first time, conducted an ORE (29 July–-1 August), and participated in two large-scale training evolutions, FleetEx 1-82 (6–28 July), and ReadiEx/MSR 82-4. Sadly, during the former, the ship lost radar and radio contact with NH-300, an A-7E from VA-22, on 15 July. A major SAR effort utilizing aircraft from Enterprise and ships in company found no trace of the pilot or of his Corsair II.  Visitors during this period included Vice Admiral W. Lawrence, Com3rdFlt, on 17 July, Vice Admiral Schoultz, 26–27 July, Attorney General William French Smith, on 11 August, and Rear Admiral C.A. Easterling, AirPac, on 26 August.

Enterprise sailed from Alameda for her 10th deployment on 1 September 1982. While en route to Hawaiian waters, she conducted SHAREM 48, a joint Ship ASW Readiness Evaluation Measuring exercise, and AIREM X-ray, an Air Readiness Evaluation Measuring exercise, 7–12 September. Admiral S.R. Foley, CinCPac, was also on board, on the 8th-–9th.

Following a visit to Pearl (13-–16 September 1982), Enterprise stood out on the morning of the 17th for “several days of flight operations.” Her aircraft utilized the opportunity to deliver a wide variety of ordnance, both live and inert, including AGM-84A Harpoons. While still in the vicinity of Hawaii, her aircrews sighted a sailboat in distress and coordinated a successful SAR on the 19th.

Transiting to the North Pacific (NorPac), Enterprise conducted “freedom of the seas” operations with the Midway Carrier Battle Group (CVBG). The two groups steamed in an area roughly centered upon 51ºN, 171ºE, approximately 300 miles southeast of the extensive Russian facilities at Petropavlosk, the Soviet Banner Pacific Fleet’s major submarine base.

From the time she neared her NorPac operations area on 23 September 1982, until she departed the Sea of Japan, Enterprise proved “the subject of extensive Soviet air, surface, and subsurface surveillance.” Of particular note was the “unprecedented” use of Backfire bombers, on 30 September and 2 October, to “reconnoiter” both CVBGs. The tension between the two superpowers provided both with opportunities to test the other’s resolve and naval competency, and planes from both carriers conducted simulated dual wing coordinated strikes that were frighteningly real in the circumstances.

On 23 September 1982, Sideflare 74, a CH-46 from HC-11’s Sacramento det, ditched at sea due to fuel starvation, Enterprise assuming on scene SAR command. “Prompt action” by the latter’s air traffic control center vectored HS-6 to the scene, recovering all crewmembers from the frigid northern Pacific. Additionally, a pair of Tomcats from VF-213 were diverted to Adak, Alaska, due to reduced ceiling visibility in the carrier operating area. The F-14s returned to Enterprise the following day, believed to be the first time that F-14s landed or took off from Adak.

On 30 September 1982, the Enterprise CVBG inchopped to the 7th Fleet, proceeding with the Midway CVBG southward, to the east of the Kuril Islands, and entering the Sea of Japan via the Tsugaru Strait, between Hokkaidō and Honshū, Japan, on 3 October. Vice Admiral M.S. Holcomb, Com7thFlet, visited the ship, on the 5th.

CRAE 83-1 was a four cycle dual carrier exercise between Enterprise and Midway, with all sorties practiced by their aircraft being conducted as Mini Alpha strikes. Four days later the “Big E” departed the Sea of Japan via the Tsushima Strait. An international group of consul generals, led by British General Sir John Archer, Commander in Chief, U.K. Land Forces, visited the ship on 12 October 1982.

Enterprise moored at Cubi Point (14–-18 October 1982); later, while in Philippine waters, she conducted MissilEx 83-2, providing CVW-14 “valuable air to air weapons work,” off Poro Point. Ultimately standing out for the South China Sea en route to Singapore, she encountered and rescued a boatload of six Vietnamese refugees, later disembarking them in Singapore.

Upon arrival at that port on the 25th, a party led by Harold E.T. Thanyer, U.S. Ambassador, Singapore, Yeap A.B.C. Rose, Deputy High Commissioner, Malaysia, and the Filipino and Indonesian ambassadors to Singapore, visited the ship.

Following her visit to Singapore, 25-–29 October, she transited the Strait of Malacca, entering the IO the day before Halloween. The carrier steamed toward the north Arabian Sea, where she operated until 19 November.

This was especially important owing to the recent outbreak of war between Iraq and Iran. Following the radical islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, Saddam Hussein took advantage of the ensuing chaos and ordered the Iraqi Army to invade Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran on 22 September 1980. The invasion was both an attempt to inspire a populist revolt against the fundamentalist Shia regime in Teheran and to gain control of the vast petroleum reserves of the region.

Although Hussein anticipated a quick victory that would allow him to install a friendly government in Tehran, the invasion provoked a determined, nationalist resistance by the Iranians that stopped the Iraqi offensive dead in its tracks. Despite enjoying a significant military advantage, the Iraqi Army was well supplied with Warsaw Pact tanks, artillery and other weapons, the campaign bogged down into a stalemate, with both sides suffering heavy losses in a war of attrition among the fortifications and trenches along the border. Both sides soon escalated the conflict through air, artillery and missile strikes against enemy cities, later extending these attacks against oil tankers and other ships carrying enemy commodities in the Northern Arabian Gulf.

By the early 1980s, neutral ships in the region could anticipate missile or gunboat attacks from either side, and Enterprise was needed to monitor activity, and to respond to ships damaged or in peril from attack.

On 9 November, Enterprise was visited by Rear Admiral C.E. Gurney, III, Commander, Middle East Force. On the 20th, she came about for a visit to Mombasa, 24–28 November, initiating 3,994 pollywogs by crossing the equator at 044º33’E, on 20 November. Also in Mombasa was Samuel Gompers (AD-37), enabling some upkeep to be completed on board the carrier.

After clearing Mombasa, Enterprise operated for the remainder of the year in the north Arabian Sea with Battle Group (BG) Foxtrot, also comprising Bainbridge, Waddell (DDG-24), Hull (DD-945), O’Callahan (FF-1051), Hepburn (FF-1055), Shasta (AE-33), Sacramento (AOE-1), White Plains (AFS-4) and Ponchatula (T-AO-148). In addition, destroyer Harry W. Hill (DD-986) was detached to shadow Soviet carrier Minsk, which was transiting the Indian Ocean for her first deployment to the Far East, a matter of considerable interest to U.S. planners. As such, Enterprise assigned two intelligence specialists to the destroyer to help the latter’s crew in tracking the Russians. Harry W. Hill rejoined on 19–20 January 1983. Frigate Reasoner (FF-1063), similarly detached for ASW duty, rejoined on 10 January. French destroyer Kersaint (D-622) also operated with the group until 10 January.

While with BG Foxtrot, Enterprise took part in exercises Jade Tiger 82 (2–8 December 1983), and Beacon Flash, a two-day event, the former involving CAS, CAP surface surveillance, anti-boat patrol and ASW missions flown in support of amphibious landings, and the latter allowing “aircrews to hone their low level and navigations skills.” During these exercises, Lieutenant General Robert Kingston, U.S.A., Commander, Rapid Deployment Joint Task Forced (RDJTF), Rear Admiral Stanley Arthur, Commander, RD Naval Force and Arthur Lowrie, RDJTF Political Advisor, consulted with officers on Enterprise, 2–3 December. U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain Peter A. Southland visited the ship on 19 December, and Rear Admiral Stevenson, Deputy Chief of Chaplains, on the 21st.

On New Year’s Eve, Enterprise was southbound en route to Diego Garcia for participation in Weapons Week 83. During 1982, the ship completed 11,372 arrested landings and made 33 UnReps.

BG Foxtrot conducted two exercises in the first week of January 1983. Weapons Week, 3–9 January 1983, provided CVW-11 with training in air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons delivery. Rainbow Reef was a convoy transit exercise with merchant ships from the RDJTF det at Diego Garcia, before beginning her easterly transit toward western Australia. Beacon South, a joint exercise with the Australians (18–19 January) provided Enterprise aircrews with low level and weapons delivery training. After the exercise, Enterprise, Harry W. Hill and Sacramento entered Fremantle for a brief visit on the 20th, other ships of the group visiting Geraldton and Bunbury. Among the distinguished visitors to Enterprise from Western Australia were Premier Ray O'’Connor, Mr. Sinclair, Minister of Defense, Air Chief Marshall McNamara, Chief of Defense Force Staff, and Vice Admiral Leach, Chief of Naval Staff.

Standing out from their respective ports and reforming on 26 January 1983, the ships steamed northerly courses toward Indonesian waters. Encountering some difficulty regarding Indonesian intransigence to allow the ships through Sunda Strait, the force pressed “right of free passage,” transiting northbound on 1 February. Crossing the Java Sea they entered the South China Sea, arriving at Subic Bay on the 7th. En route to the Philippines, Enterprise’'s Marine detachment prepared and instituted a plan to repel pirates known to be operating in the area.

During February 1983, U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand H. Monroe Brown visited the ship, as did Ambassador to South Korea and Mrs. Richard L. Walker. Enterprise sailed from Cubi Point on 27 February, rendezvousing with other “elements” of the battle group returning from a visit to Hong Kong.  Russian “reaction” was not long in coming, and a pair of Bear Ds reconnoitered Enterprise as she operated just off Subic Bay, on 2 March. Soviet surveillance continued as Enterprise and her consorts steamed north through the Tsushima Strait and into the Sea of Japan to participate in Valiant Flex/Team Spirit 83, a 16 day joint amphibious exercise with ROK forces, during which Enterprise supported the landings and provided interdiction support.  “Numerous” civil aircraft penetrated her carrier control zone during the evolution, seven unauthorized flights being so dangerous as to be reported to Commander, Naval Force Japan.  Upon completing the exercise, Enterprise visited Sasebo, 21-–26 March, but unlike her first visit (1968), no major incidents occurred other than “a few” peaceful demonstrations by Japanese opposed to her brief stay.

After standing out of Sasebo, Enterprise operated independently before rendezvousing with Midway on 30 March 1983. The two ships then steamed northerly courses across the Sea of Japan and through the Tsugaru Strait into the northern Pacific. There she participated in FleetEx 83-1, rendezvousing with Coral Sea, on 9 April. All three carriers then completed a “counterclockwise sweep” of the northwestern Pacific. A “rare opportunity” was provided for both naval and Air Force crews via aerial refueling with the latter’s KC-10 tankers, which refueled KA-6s, in turn refueling naval aircraft. The large Extender fuel loads “provided tactical flexibility” and thus permitted naval air intercepts “at realistic speeds and extended cycle times.” Soviet aerial reconnaissance was “heavy,” but unusually, Russian surface surveillance was “nearly non-existent.”

At midday on 18 April 1983, Enterprise detached for home. Admiral Foley noted that FleetEx 83-1 “…fully integrated three carrier battle force operations; theater wide operations in support of the battle force; integration of the full range of air force maritime capabilities into battle force and theater naval operations, and incorporation of both Canadian and Coast Guard units into the battle force.”

On board for Enterprise’'s return to Alameda was actor George Takei, who had portrayed Lieutenant Commander Sulu, the “helmsman” of the “starship Enterprise” in the television and film series Star Trek.  During the final leg of the inbound channel, however, approximately a half-mile from the pier, Enterprise ran aground and was delayed for almost five hours until the incoming tide and tugs could free her, mooring at Alameda on 28 April 1983.  During the cruise CVW-11 had flown approximately 29,000 hours and recorded over 11,000 traps.

Following her post-deployment standdown, Enterprise then underwent an “extensive” SRA, 15 May–-20 September 1983, durig which, in July, her C-1A Greyhound was transferred to VRC-30, which was to provide future COD support. At the completion of the availability, Enterprise conducted sea trials (20–26 September). During that period the flight deck was recertified, on 21 September, as was the automatic carrier landing system (ACLS). From the 22nd–-24th, Enterprise also evaluated for CNO the catapult launch of F-14s towing gunnery banners, and carried out full rudder tests with a maximum heel at 30 knots/30º rudder of 12º. Also in September, her operations and medical departments received Battle Efficiency “Es.”

Enterprise returned to sea for CVW-11’s carrier qualifications, with VS-21 replacing VS-37, 7–13 October 1983, logging 1,429 arrested landings, 863 day/566 night, qualifying 113 pilots. She returned to San Francisco in time to participate in Fleet Week, joining the procession of ships beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and into the bay, including Kitty Hawk, Merrill (DD-976), Chandler (DDG-996), O’Brien (DD-975), Mars, Wabash (AOR-5), Mauna Kea (AE-22), Berkeley (DDG-15), Duncan (FFG-10) and Lewis B. Puller (FFG-23).

From 31 October-–22 November 1983, the “Big E” completed refresher training in the southern California operating area.  During a “dark night,” the ship received a distress call, around 2300. Alert 30, the HS-6 helo on plane guard, was aloft and racing to the scene in barely 15 minutes, followed closely by a second and then a third, all three staying airborne until the SAR was called off.

After refresher training, Enterprise enjoyed a brief break to celebrate Thanksgiving; subsequently, an Underway Material Inspection, 12–14 December 1983, proved to be the last significant at sea event for the ship before the New Year.

From 10 January-–15 February 1984, Enterprise operated in the southern California operating area, devoting the first six days to carrier qualifications, with 109 of 114 wing pilots qualifying during a total of 1,502 traps, 964 day and 538 night. Then, following a brief visit to San Diego (17-18 January), she provided an “open deck” for Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA)-125, VF-124, VAQ-129, VAW-110, VMPF-3, VS-41 and VRC-30 through the 25th, adding an additional 559 arrested landings, 314 day and 245 night. Another stay in San Diego (25-31 January) was followed by ReadiEx 84-2, 31 January–15 February, that included an opposed sortie from San Diego and a multithreat scenario composed of long and short range AAW, anti-surface warfare (ASUW), a mine warfare exercise and ASW “at an intense level.” Enterprise conducted five UnReps, including one alongside of Sacramento where she suffered a gyro casualty, but carrying out an “emergency breakaway” from a four station detail, a dangerous maneuver accomplished without further mishap.

Enterprise and CVW-11 also conceived and implemented “a more flexible and combat relevant mode of conducting air operations than traditional cyclic operations.” Based upon initiatives providing “more efficient management of flight deck time and space, major reposts were eliminated,” the landing area and waist catapults being kept clear for flight operations “on a continual and flexible timing basis throughout the operating day.” Designated Battle Flex Deck (BFD), its implementation commenced on 10 January.

Enterprise returned to the southern California operating area for additional training (23 February–-2 March 1984), recording a total of 1,568 arrested landings, 1,127 day and 441 night. In addition to the wing’s VS-21 qualifying 18 of its pilots, CVW-14, CVWR-30, VA-122, VFA-125, VF-124, VMA-21, VAQ-33, VAW-110, VS-41 and VRC-30 also took advantage of the carquals. On the 3rd, 3,900 dependents embarked for a one-day cruise.

Standing out of Alameda on 14 March 1984, Enterprise participated in ReadiEx 84-3, the final phase consisting of “an opposed, multithreat Orange Force scenario,” including a Harpoon missile exercise, on the 30th. ReadiEx 84-3 was followed by ORE, 2–5 April. Another multithreat scenario, it added “power projection strikes ashore.” Refresher air operations were then completed in the southern California operating area, 19–30 April.

Enterprise sailed on her 11th deployment on 30 May 1984. Accompanying her was BG Foxtrot, comprising guided missile cruisers Arkansas (CGN-41) and Jouett (CG-29), destroyers Kinkaid (DD-965) and Leftwich (DD-984), frigates Mahlon S. Tisdale (FFG-27), Brewton (FF-1086) and Robert E. Peary (FF-1073), Sacramento and ammunition ship Flint (AE-32). One day into her deployment, Enterprise was visited by Vice Admiral Crawford A. Easterling, AirPac. En route to Hawaii, the group participated in RimPac 84, through Enterprise’s arrival at Pearl Harbor, on 15 June. A “multinational, two carrier, extended exercise,” RimPac 84 involved U.S. and Japanese P-3s, USAF B-52s, and about 90 American and Australian ships and submarines, the latter numbering both diesel and nuclear-powered boats.

The initial rendezvous of seven individual surface groups, integrating 50 ships into a single formation, set the tone for the complex exercise. Enterprise avoided Orange submarines detecting and localizing her by “high-speed” restrictive emissions control (EmCon) and “zig-zag.” The exercise culminated in an amphibious operation off Maui.

Clearing Pearl Harbor on 19 June 1984, Enterprise took part in BgaRem 84-4, an ASW exercise northwest of Kauai “appended” to RimPac 84, and Bell Volcano 84-1, an amphibious and power projection exercise requiring the ship to provide CAP and CAS, both exercises in the Hawaiian Operations Area. Rear Admiral Kohn was relieved as ComCarGru-3 by Rear Admiral John R. Batzler, on 26 June. During June, primarily in RimPac 84, CVW-11 flew 80–110 sorties per day for 4,762 flight hours.

Enterprise returned to Pearl Harbor for a second visit, 29 June–2 July 1984, then continuing on her westerly course into WestPac. En route she was twice shadowed by Soviet Bears, on 7 and 16 July. At one point, an F-14 was diverted to Wake Island, maintained in a caretaker status for just such emergencies and for “island resupply.” In addition Enterprise conducted a TransitEx ASW evolution with attack submarine Drum (SSN-677), a PassEx with Japanese ships in the vicinity of Guam, and an InChopEx with Kitty Hawk aircraft as opposing forces, on the way. Four Soviet Sibir class AGEs and a Primorye class AGI monitored the transit with more than passing interest.

In July 1984, Enterprise completed incorporation of the Seawater Activated Release System (SeaWars), something that promised to facilitate rescues of downed aircrew, in 15 parachutes. Vice Admiral J.R. Hogg, Com7thFlt, stayed on board, 23–24 July, Enterprise mooring at NAS Cubi Point, 24 July–2 August. MissilEx 84-5 consisted of a RIM-7H NATO Sea Sparrow fired at a QM-74C drone target, on 2 August, after which time the ship visited Hong Kong (6-11 August), requalifying 114 pilots from CVW-11 during two days of carquals en route. Following her visit to the British Crown Colony, Enterprise crossed the South China Sea headed for the Indian Ocean.  Three Badgers, however, backed up by a Bear, operating out of American-built facilities at Cam Ranh Bay, reconnoitered her on 13 August 1984.

Transiting the Strait of Malacca westbound Enterprise executed an InChopEx with America, whose crew and aircraft provided “realistic scenarios for the north Arabian Sea environment,” relieving the latter on 24 August 1984.  While there, Enterprise proved a “stabilizing force” and evidenced a “show of [U.S.] resolve to countries in the region,” ongoing destabilization resulting from the Iranian-Iraqi War embroiling the region.

Soviet Il-38s and AN-12 Cubs, and Iranian P-3Fs and C-130s operating in the battle group area of interest were intercepted and escorted. Shipping was carefully monitored, merchant shipping being of “particular interest” due to the resurgence of Iranian and Iraqi attacks on maritime traffic in the Northern Arabian Gulf. For the first two weeks in the Indian Ocean, “an active flight deck” was maintained in the mornings hopefully preventing seasonal heavy dew and reducing hazards, as well as Iranian P-3 patrols, whose flights often coincided with early mornings. The weather continued to be a problem, however, as blowing dust in the air was very prevalent, “creating low level haze and occasionally reducing flight visibility,” the mixture of settling dust and a wet flight deck also creating slippery, hazardous conditions.

During September 1984, Enterprise accomplished passing exercises known as PassExes with British, French and German forces, comprising air defense, maneuvering, communications and data link exercises. ASWEx’s 84-9U, 21–24 September, and 85-1U, 13–15 October, were considered especially noteworthy due to “intensive and successful ASW prosecution efforts” evaluating ASW operations in the Indian Ocean environment. For example, a Soviet Type II nuclear powered submarine was localized and tracked for 41 hours on the 5th, and a second boat for 14 hours, on 20 October. Robert E. Peary regained contact three days later, her SH-2 gaining sonobuoy contact and vectoring in other aircraft to the hunt. While in the north Arabian Sea, Enterprise had her hands full with Russian surface ships as well, including  minesweeper Natya, submarine tender Ugra, AGI Alpinist and Mertkr Nahodka, as well as “numerous Soviet arms carriers” heading for Iraq and other Arab client states.

Attempting to enhance relations with their allies in the region the Russians dispatched a mine countermeasures force, including the helicopter cruiser Leningrad, to the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Given that her capabilities were of considerable interest, Enterprise sent some intelligence people to Arkansas for “special operations,” enabling the U.S. cruiser to monitor Soviet progress in September 1984. With Arkansas detached, Enterprise became Anti-Air Warfare Commander (AAWC), 15-–20 October. In addition, Rear Admiral J.F. Adams, Commander, Middle East Force, and members of his staff, were on board on the 6th, as was Rear Admiral McCarthy, Commander, TF 70, 26-–29 October.

Enterprise was discharged of her north Arabian Sea responsibilities prior to actually being relieved by Independence, but following the hijacking of a Saudi airliner en route to Iran on 5 November 1984, Enterprise received orders to take station in the northern Arabian Sea for possible emergency response. Speedy resolution of the crisis, however, resulted in a cancellation of the order the next day, while she was steaming toward the area, and Enterprise turned eastward on 5 November. Just west of Eight Degree Channel the ship was shadowed by an Indian Il-38 May, and again by Russian bombers out of Cam Rahn Bay while crossing the South China Sea, before putting into Cubi Point, on the 12th, after 93 days at sea.

Standing out of Subic Bay on 19 November 1984, Enterprise commenced FleetEx 85, joining forces with Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and Midway. “Numerous” Russian reconnaissance flights dogged the ship and her consorts while participating in the exercise, drawing “extensive Soviet air surveillance.” Orange opposition comprised naval, USMC and USAF commands, including KC-135s and E-3As, and seven Japanese and U.S. submarines, both diesel and nuclear powered types. A Soviet aerial “multiwave regimental size raid” was also simulated. Post exercise analysis confirmed that Enterprise “contributed to over 27 hours of contact time and 46 constructive attacks by VS and HS assets.” During FleetEx 85, CVW-11 flew over 800 sorties and 2,200 flight hours in a 12-day period, the BFD concept providing “the means to quickly set and maintain the grid and to quickly respond to all contingencies arising during grid operations.” Rear Admiral McCarthy was on board on 25 November, as was Vice Admiral Hogg, the next day, and Japanese Rear Admiral Oyama, 26–30 November.  After completing the exercise, Enterprise sailed for home, by which point she had controlled over 2,700 aerial intercepts during this deployment. Among the latter were 61 non-U.S. surveillance aircraft, the last of which were Bears on 2 and 3 December. In every such instance during the cruise, fighters from Enterprise intercepted these aircraft and escorted them out of threat range.

Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 10 December 1984, Enterprise sailed three days later with 900 male guests for a Tiger Cruise, returning to Alameda five days before Christmas of 1984 to begin a post-deployment standdown. The ship had completed 17,569 arrested landings during 1984.

Enterprise completed a three month SRA on 30 April 1985, with dock trials, 22–26 April, and a fast cruise on the 29th. During this time, the concept of a Strike Operations Center (SOC) was developed, integrating it into “the planning and execution of each major evolution.”  Among the servicing to the ship and her systems completed was work upon all centerline arresting gear wire supports and the relocation of existing wire support assemblies, which “significantly reduced aircraft bolter rates,” as well as eliminating the hazard of foreign object damage caused by broken arresting gear wire supports. In January, VAQ-133 began transitioning to Improved Capability (ICAP) II EA-6B Prowlers, rejoining the wing in July.

Between 2–8 May 1985, Enterprise conducted ACLS certification and aircrew refresher training off the coast of northern California. She then completed CVW-11 refresher training in the southern California operating area, 22–29 May, and again with fleet replacement squadron and training command carquals, 5–20 June. During this third period, Enterprise recorded 2,481 catapult launches, 1,951 day and 530 night, and 2,498 arrested landings, 1,963 day and 535 night.

Enterprise stood out for refresher training, 8–21 July 1985, with BFD being the “normal mode of flight operations,” the last two days being devoted to carquals for CVW-9 from Kitty Hawk. This was followed by an additional period of underway training in the southern California operating area, emphasizing “war at sea strikes,” AD, power projection and ASW, 30 July–8 August 1985.

“Peace in the Pacific,” a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of V-J Day, found Enterprise making a rehearsal cruise to prepare for her part in the ceremony, on 13 August 1985, followed by the actual ceremonies the next day. Noted dignitaries visiting the carrier included Vice President George H.W. Bush, a decorated Naval Aviator who served during WWII, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of State George Schultz, the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Jean McArthur, widow of the late General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.

Three days later, Enterprise held a dependent’s day cruise off the Farallon Islands, just outside San Francisco Bay, highlighted by both ship and “impressive” CVW-11 aircraft demonstrations. Rear Admiral Batzler, ComCarGru-3, was embarked until 19 August 1985, when the embarked flag shifted to Rear Admiral Jonathan T. Howe, ComCruDesGru-3. Also embarked during much of this period was Captain T.A. Barthold, Commander, Destroyer Squadron (ComDesRon) 23, The Little Beavers.

Enterprise completed additional carquals and fleet replacement squadron operations (27 August-–7 September 1985) five days early. She logged 2,775 catapult launches, 2,170 day and 605 night, and 2,785 arrested landings, 2,178 day and 607 night, with a total of 372 pilots from “various” squadrons qualified. Enterprise then completed four days of work in the southern California operating area, from 23-–27 September 1985 prior to mooring at North Island for a four-day visit (27 September-–1 October).  She then completed ComptuEx 86-1, 1-–10 October, a multi-threat scenario utilizing the BFD, and including separate CIWS and NATO Sea Sparrow shoots.

During this work-up period Enterprise operated with BG Foxtrot, consisting of cruisers Truxtun and Arkansas, destroyers David R. Ray (DD-971) and O’'Brien (DD-975), frigates Lewis B. Puller (FFG-23), McClusky (FFG-41), Bagley (FF-1069) and Reasoner (FF-1063), and old logistics consort Sacramento, after which time Enterprise became the lead ship of the parade of 14 ships passing beneath the Golden Gate to enter San Francisco Bay for the culmination of Fleet Week, 12 October 1985. On hand to greet her were Admiral James A. Lyons, CinCPac, and Mayor Diane Feinstein, all being treated to an air show by the Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron Blue Angels, before she moored at Alameda.

From 28 October-–23 November 1985, Enterprise conducted her last at-sea period of the year, operating in the southern California operating area in an ORE, ReadiEx 86-1, that also involved threats by terrorist aircraft, and her Battle Group evaluation. While steaming south-southwest of San Diego, however, on 2 November 1985, Enterprise struck a portion of Bishop Rock. The crew counter-flooded the void and controlled flooding, but in addition to damage to the hull, the No. 1 screw received damage. The grounding also resulted in the temporary loss of the use of 24 JP-5 fuel storage tanks.

After having a one-day standdown to assess the damage, Enterprise continued her scheduled training, returning to Alameda on 3 November 1985, with Vice Admiral Moranville, Com3rdFlt, visiting on board, 5–7 November. The damage incurred on 2 November, however, required repairs that could only be completed in drydock. She anchored in San Francisco Bay, 27-–28 November, before shifting to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard for an emergency SRA on the 28th. In December, an EOD detachment was established on board to inspect the damage. Twenty-five dives, encompassing 400 man-hours, were required to evaluate the damage, the diver also investigating underwater damage to Lewis B. Puller.

12 September 2005

Published: Wed Jul 08 07:53:20 EDT 2015