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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: 1985-1990
Enterprise floated free from drydock, 6–-7 January 1986, then remained at Alameda until the 12th, when she conducted the fly-on for CVW-11, 12–-13 January.  The wing consisted of VFs-114 and 213 (F-14As), VAs-22 and 94 (A-7Es) and 95 (A-6Es and KA-6Ds), VAQ-135 (EA-6Bs), VAW-117 (E-2Cs), VS-21 (S-3As), VRC-50 Det (C-2As), a single EA-3B from VQ-1 Det B, and HS-6 (SH-3Hs). Sadly, however, an accident claimed two lives, when, on 13 January 1986, the day the ship deployed from Alameda for Pearl, Lieutenant Joseph Durmon, pilot, and Lieutenant (jg) Steven Engeman, RIO, VF-213, were both killed when their ejection seats were fired from NH 203, their F-14A, on the flight deck.

While en route to Hawaii, an unidentified submarine was detected and “aggressively prosecuted until the intruder was chased out of range.” Subsequently, Enterprise participated in BgaRem-86, a major fleet exercise involving surface, subsurface and air action culminating in an amphibious operation on Maui. A scheduled NATO Sea Sparrow firing from the starboard launcher, however, failed due to a transmitter casualty, the problem being addressed so that RIM-7Hs would be uploaded in February. Meanwhile, the ship pulled into Pearl Harbor, 29 January–2 February 1986.

Clearing Pearl on 2 February 1986, Enterprise steamed west, entering the “Bear Box,” where intercepts by Soviet aircraft became likely, on the 8th. The vigilant Russians did not disappoint Enterprise and VF-213 Tomcats intercepted two Bear Ds that day, the ship inchopping into 7th Fleet on 10 February, when two more Bear Ds were intercepted. On 14 February, a flight of one Bear D and a Bear F were intercepted using “Bear Bash” tactics. NH 205, however, an F-14A, became lost at sea and suffered fuel exhaustion nearly 500 NM northwest from the battle group, Enterprise acting as SAR coordinator. Lieutenant Ross Sklenka, pilot, and Lieutenant Commander Thomas Lorenzo, RIO, were found “alive and well” the next morning, returning on board late that afternoon by SH-3s.

While en route to the Philippines, Enterprise’'s CDC tracked “numerous” Bears, the Russians flying daily sorties from Cam Ranh Bay. Enterprise rounded the northern tip of Luzon, mooring at Cubi Point on 17 February 1986, remaining there until the 24th.

Following the “Aquino Revolution” in the Philippines, when President Marcos was overthrown, Enterprise came about from the South China Sea to remain in Philippine waters, dropping anchor in Subic Bay at night in order to “demonstrate American resolve in support of the Filipino government,” 24–26 February 1986. On the 26th, the EA-3B and catapult No. 1 were both damaged due to a broken bridle.

Shortly after Rear Admiral Batzler, ComCarGru-3, was relieved by Rear Admiral E.W. Clexton (28 February 1986), Enterprise next visited Singapore (2–5 March) after a passage that had taken her just to the north of Borneo outside of Indonesian territorial waters and been lacking in the usual encounters with Bears flying out of Vietnam. At Singapore, she was toured by U.S. Ambassador to Singapore J. Stapleton Roy and a military delegation from that country.

Following her visit to Singapore, Enterprise completed PassEx 86-1M, transiting the Malacca Strait and entering the Indian Ocean, 5–6 March 1986. On the 8th, VA-94 lost an A-7E on final approach when the Corsair II’s engine malfunctioned, the pilot being recovered.

As the ships neared Sri Lanka, poor weather resulted in “minimal interaction” between Enterprise and the Indian Navy, the latter “apparently” conducting an annual training exercise west of Goa, India. Nonetheless, Enterprise was located by two Indian Il-38 Mays during the afternoon watch on 12 March 1986, the Mays passing five times near the carrier with Closest Points of Approach (CPAs) of as little as 500 yards. Bagley recovered a spent SS-N-2C Styx SSM. The next day, another Indian May reconnoitered BG Foxtrot, followed by the Russians, staging IL-38s out of al Anad, Yemen. The Soviet Mays located a “deception group” southwest of Enterprise, but (apparently) not the carrier herself.

Enterprise then visited Karachi, Pakistan, where she was toured by a Pakistani delegation led by Rear Admiral M.S. Choudry, Commander, Karachi, 15–19 March 1986. Clearing that port on the 19th–-20th, the ship conducted an “air and surface demo” for key Pakistani leaders. Both the Russians and the Indians exhibited more than passing interest in the exercise, the former sending a pair of Mays from al Anad, which made one pass each in “stepped up formation,” and the latter sending an Il-38 making no less than four passes of Enterprise barely two minutes after the second Soviet pass.

Anchoring at al Masirah Island, Oman, on 22 March 1986, Enterprise stood out of her anchorage on the afternoon watch on the 24th, returning during early morning of the next day, and was underway again during the afternoon of 25 March, returning in the early morning of the 26th. While anchored at al Masirah, Enterprise again found herself monitored by Soviet Mays out of al Anad. On 24 March 1986, Rear Admiral Jonathan T. Howe, ComCruDesGru-3, was relieved by Rear Admiral Paul D. Miller.  Subsequently, receiving word of a downed Indian AN-32 Cline south of Karachi, Enterprise launched two SAR flights in support of the Indians (26–27 March 1986). While operating in the northwestern Arabian Sea, the ship launched low-level flights into Oman under exercise Lightning Flash, 29 March.

Anchoring at al Masirah early the next morning, Enterprise stood out that evening (30 March 1986) for a PassEx with British frigates Broadsword, Cardiff and Tidespring; however, the next day, 31 March, a TARPS mission over the Shu-ab anchorage, Socotra Island, revealed Soviet Kara class cruiser Tallin (CG-547), an Ugra class submarine tender, a Boris Chilikin class AOR and an Internatsional class Mertkr.The Russians continued their game of cat and mouse with the group, flying another May over Enterprise with barely a 1,000 yard CPA, on 1 April.  Arkansas, meanwhile, made a “pass-through” of the Socotra anchorage, and TARPS imagery showed the Russians still at anchor.

Returning to al Masirah on 2 April 1986, Enterprise cleared the anchorage the next morning with an Omani delegation led by Yusuf bin Abdullah, Foreign Minister, and G. Cranwell Montgomery, U.S. Ambassador, Oman, embarked for an aerial demonstration. The ship was also visited while in this area by Rear Admiral John F. Addams, Commander, Middle East Force. During the morning watch on 7 April, Enterprise sailed from al Masirah, with a visit by Rear Admiral Hugh M. Balfour, CNO, Oman.

While steaming in the Gulf of Oman, Enterprise was visited by Vice President Bush and his wife Barbara, on 9 April 1986, who remained on board until the next day. Enterprise then sailed southward toward Diego Garcia, but was diverted northward toward Socotra Island, on the 11th.  Enterprise steamed near Socotra, launching “daily sorties” and monitoring maritime traffic in the strategically vital Bab-al-Mandeb. The ship continued her surveillance, 14-–15 April, until being placed “on alert” on the 15th. The next day, the carrier was reconnoitered by a pair of Russian Mays flying out of al Anad, the Russians swooping by the ship’s port side from bow–stern at a CPA of 1,500 yards, in the western Gulf of Aden. 

The area was also patrolled by the French, who maintained facilities at Djibouti, Horn of Africa (HOA). One of their Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft also reconnoitered BG Foxtrot, though not approaching Enterprise, on 21 April 1986.  The “Big E” flew an aeromedical evacuation to Djibouti, on the 23rd. The same day Russian Mays from al Anad flew a Gulf of Aden reconnaissance flight within 150–-200 yards of Enterprise, the ship also effecting “Airhead” operations to Berbera, Somalia.

Enterprise received orders directing her to the Med in response to the crisis with Libya, on 25 April 1986. An ongoing series of terrorist attacks against Westerners, including Americans, during the 1970s–-80s were encouraged and supported by the Libyans through their leader, Captain, later Colonel, Muammar al-Qadhafi. The U.S. initiated a series of “Freedom of Navigation” exercises in the Gulf of Sidra. With both sides’ forces operating in such close proximity, clashes were inevitable. Rising tension with Libya had prompted President Ronald W. Reagan to issue an executive order declaring that “the policies and actions of the Government of Libya constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” on 7 January 1986.

The Libyan Arab Air Force possessed credible strength on paper, with over 700 aircraft, including MiG-23 Floggers, MiG-25 Foxbats, Su-22 Fitters and Il-76 Candids, and French Mirage Vs and F-1s, although without enough qualified pilots to man all. The Libyan Arab Air Defense Command also deployed a limited but potentially lethal air defense system. Three regional defense sectors, Tripoli, Benghazi and Tobruk, each comprised an H.Q., two SA-2, two–three SA-3 and two–four SA-6 Gainful/SA-8 Gecko SAM brigades, several radar companies and varying numbers of AAA battalions and batteries. These defenses included a battery of SA-5 Gammon SAMs at Surt, near Sirte, the Libyans also possessing SA-7 portable air defense platoons and French Crotale SAMs, presenting attacking aircrews with a multitude of challenges.  The small but modernized Libyan Arab Navy boasted 115 vessels, including six Foxtrot class submarines, six midget subs, 65 surface combatants, 26 amphibious ships and 14 auxiliaries.

By 22-–27 March 1986, Vice Admiral Frank B. Kelso, II, Com6thFlt, deployed TF 60, designated Battle Force Zulu, three CVBGs, America, Coral Sea and Saratoga (CV-60), with upward of 250 aircraft, 26 ships and submarines and 27,000 Sailors and Marines. Undeterred, Qadhafi boarded La Combattante II G class missile boat Waheed, loudly proclaiming to media representatives that a “line of death” stretched across the gulf at 32º30’N. During Operation Attain Document III, TG 60.5, a Surface Action Group (SAG) composed of guided missile cruiser Ticonderoga (CG-47), guided missile destroyer Scott (DDG-995) and destroyer Caron (DD-970) crossed that line.

Libyan aircraft and SA-2s and 5s fired on the Americans during the mid watch on 24 March 1986, who responded with Operation Prairie Fire, sinking Waheed with two Harpoons and MK 20 Rockeye cluster bombs from A-6E Intruders of VAs-34 and 85, the first operational use of the missile in combat. Additional strikes sank Nanuchka II class corvette Ean Mara with a Harpoon and Rockeyes, and damaged a second corvette, while the SA-5 battery at Surt was also knocked out, by AGM-88 High Speed Antiradiation Missiles (HARMs) fired by VA-83 A-7E Corsair IIs. The SAG steamed 40 miles below the “line of death” for 75 hours without a single casualty, the air wings flying 1,546 sorties, 375 of them south of the line.

Qadhafi struck back with more terrorist strikes, prompting Operation El Dorado Canyon, 14–-15 April 1986. A joint operation, the Air Force flew 18 F-111F Aardvarks of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, and four EF-111A Ravens from the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, together with 29 tankers, all flying from England, a round trip of nearly 6,000 miles.

On the eve of battle, Rear Admiral Henry H. Mauz, Jr., Commander, TF 60, informed the Sailors and Marines of Battle Force Zulu that their actions were sending a message to “those who sponsor [terrorism]…that retribution will be swift and sure.” Consequently, at 0150 on 14 April 1986, the lead aircraft went to work on the Libyan air defense systems, jamming some radars and blasting others with HARMs and Shrikes; subsequent attacks pounded Libyan terrorist and military target areas near Tripoli, the Frogman School at Murat Sidi Bilal, the military zone at Tripoli International Airport, and Bab al-Azziziyyah Barracks; together with two targets near Bengazi, Benina Airfield and the al-Jamahiriyyah Barracks.

With Enterprise thus urgently needed for “contingency operations,” she passed through the Bab-al-Mandeb during the late afternoon of the 26th, astern of Arkansas and Truxtun. Making good time, the carrier arrived in the approaches to the canal during late afternoon on the 28th, anchoring in the Gulf of Suez.

Beginning at 0300 on 29 April 1986, Enterprise became the first nuclear powered carrier to transit the Suez Canal. Since Arkansas, one of her consorts, had been the first nuclear powered ship to do so, in 1984, the cruiser earned the honor of leading the battle group through “The Ditch,” followed by the carrier and then Truxtun. At 0402, Enterprise entered the canal, exiting at 1514 when she entered the Med for the first time in almost 22 years.

In addition to the Libyans, the Russians also evidenced an interest in her presence, and almost immediately Enterprise sighted Soviet AGI Kurs, which trailed the carrier until the next day, 30 April 1986, when Kurs was relieved in the eastern Med of “her tattletail ops” by destroyer Sovremennyy, which was in turn relieved by Udaloy overnight on 1 May, the Russians shadowing the carrier and her consorts even more closely than usual.

To ensure readiness in the event hostilities should escalate, Enterprise participated in a “war-at-sea strike” with Coral Sea during the afternoon of 1 May 1986, while steaming toward the latter to relieve her, doing so the next day. Enterprise conducted “spinner ops”–attempts to provoke Libyan responses–on the 2nd and 4th, but the Libyans apparently had had enough from their previous handling by the U.S., and logged “no significant reaction.”

Enterprise came about from the Central Med and entered the Tyrrhenian Sea via the Strait of Messina, on 7 May 1986. Udaloy terminated her “talletale ops” as Enterprise approached the strait, though the carrier sighted Soviet Mayak class AGI, as well as a pair of Mays en route to Tripoli.

After visiting Naples, 8-–18 May 1986, where Vice Admiral Frank B. Kelso, II, Com6thFlt, visited the ship, Enterprise steamed in the Med through the 30th, when she navigated the Strait of Bonifacio, between Corsica and Sardinia, entering Toulon, 30 May-–9 June. Clearing French waters on the 9th, the “Big E” steamed to Augusta Bay, Sicily; during the passage, Tomcats launched from the carrier intercepted and escorted a pair of Russian Mays flying from Libya, on the 13th.  Between 10-–14 June, meanwhile, four A-7Es and one EA-6B detached from Enterprise to form a special detachment at NAS Sigonella, Sicily, in support of NATO exercise Tridente. Enterprise conducted her “turnover” with Forrestal on the 17th, and the next day Roger Mudd, NBC News, embarked to film a documentary.

Following a visit to Augusta Bay (23-–25 June 1986), Enterprise got underway for Australia via West Africa. Transiting the Strait of Gibraltar on 28 June, she chopped to Com2ndFlt the next day. Interestingly, the ships in Enterprise'’s battle group were operating simultaneously in four major maritime theaters on 29 June 1986: Enterprise, Arkansas and Truxtun in the Atlantic, O’Brien and Lewis B. Puller in the Pacific, Reasoner, with Captain Barthold, ComDesRon-23, embarked, Bagley and Sacramento in the Med, and David R. Ray and McClusky in the Indian Ocean.

Crossing the equator on 3 July 1986, Enterprise rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 9 July, chopping to Com7thFlt. Four days later, on 13 July, an EA-6B Prowler was lost after a catapult launch, following “control malfunction.” The mission commander landed on the flight deck after ejecting, and his crew was recovered in the water. Three days later, another mishap caused tense moments for the crew of a C-2 from VRC-50 when a propeller failed on “flyoff.” The men flew the Greyhound on to Perth on a single propr, making an “uneventful landing.”

After Enterprise visited Perth (18–-22 July 1986), she turned toward the Philippines. Negotiating Indonesian waters, she steamed northerly courses through the Makassar Strait, crossing the Celebes and Sulu Seas, mooring at Cubi Point on 27 July. Underway again on the 30th, she inchopped to the 3rd Fleet on 3 August. After pausing at Pearl (7-9 August), she embarked 665 Tigers for the journey home, the visiting dependents receiving a 21-gun salute and a sea power demonstration courtesy of Arkansas and Truxtun. CVW-1 concluded the show with “a spectacular diamond-shaped flyby.” Enterprise returned to Alameda from her deployment on 13 August 1986.

Enterprise cleared Alameda for carquals off northern California, completing 519 traps on 13–14 September 1986.  She then began SRA 87, moving to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard on the 18th. Enterprise had completed 6,854 day and 2,133 night catapult launches, together with 6,293 day and 2,702 night arrested landings, during 1986. She had also logged 1,581 day and 367 night helo launches, along with 1,511 day and 367 night helo landings. Aircraft were moved over 8,330 times in the hanger bay and 41,000 on the flight deck.

Enterprise was towed from Hunters Point Naval Shipyard to Alameda on 22 January 1987, and completed her SRA on 1 March. Among the alterations performed, all CIWS mounts were replaced and bomb jettison ramps were installed. An attempt was also made to replace the slatted aircraft elevator platforms, Enterprise then being the only carrier so fitted, with solid surface platforms, but design flaws discovered in the latter caused the project to be abandoned. The ship conducted a fast cruise, 27 February, and sea trials, 2–9 March, and again 20–25 March, when she also certified her ACLS and conducted carquals. Enterprise anchored in Coronado Roads, near North Island, on 7 March, and shifted to San Francisco Bay two days later.

The “Big E” moored at North Island (25–26 March 1987), before she stood out for additional carquals and Fleet Replenishment Squadron (FRS) air refresher training off southern California with VAs-122 and 128, VFA-125, VF-124, VAQ-129, VAWs-88 and 110, VSs-21 and 35, VQ-1, VRC-30, and VX-4, from the 27th–31st. Also in March, the ship test fired the first carrier-mounted Super Rapid Blooming Offboard Chaff (SRBOC), as well as holding an “Anti-Terrorist drill.”

Enterprise completed her Training Readiness Evaluation in San Diego, 1–2 April 1987, followed by a weapons exercise off southern California and at the San Clemente Island complex, 3–5 April, anchoring in Coronado Roads on the 4th, before returning to  Alameda. Enterprise then completed refresher training off southern California  with Rear Admiral Clexton, ComCarGru-3, embarked (23–30 April 1987), anchoring in Coronado Roads on the 27th and 29th, with additional steaming through 4 May. Following refresher training, the ship anchored in Coronado Roads on the 4th, before mooring at North Island (5–7 May).

Enterprise completed FRS Carrier qualifications with VAs-122 and 128, VFA-125, VF-124, VAQ-129, VAW-110, VS-41, VRC-30, and VX-4 (7–12 May 1987), and again, 6–12 July, returning to Alameda in between.

The Tactical Environmental Support System (TESS), “significantly” enhancing Enterprise’s capability to provide rapid responses to meteorological and oceanographic requirements, was installed between 14–18 May 1987. On 10 July, Enterprise also celebrated her 90,000th catapult launch from No. 1 catapult, and this period marked the initial use of the Joint Operational Tactical System (JOTS), providing interfacing to NTDS, embarked staffs and other ships, on board Enterprise. Also in July, the AN/SRN-25 Global Positioning System (GPS) was installed.

Enterprise pulled into San Diego on 13 July 1987 to embark ComCruDesGru-3, CVW-11 and ComDesRon-23 staffs and their cargo, and then conducted work at sea in the southern California operating area for additional training in mine warfare, coordinated CVBG and “scenario ops” (13–23 July). Enterprise also operated with Japanese P-3s and destroyers Hatakaze, Hatsuyuki and Shirane, on the 21st.

Between 23–24 July 1987, Enterprise moored at North Island, embarking CVW-10 for its only at sea period prior to being disestablished. Standing out of San Diego on the 24th, Enterprise conducted carquals and flight operations, with Lieutenant (jg) Mason, VFA-161, making the ship’s 254,000th arrested landing, on 25 July 1987.

Completing Behavior Criterion 87-20 exercises en route, Enterprise visited the Seattle Sea Fair (29 July–-3 August 1987), hosting upward of 68,000 visitors, including a special reception for 500 in her hangar bay, before returning to Alameda, mooring there from the 7th–-17th. About 450 Tigers embarked for a cruise to North Island, CVW-10 flying an air show, 18–19 August. The ship then hosted the Air Pac change of command on 21 August, Vice Admiral J.H. Fetterman relieving Vice Admiral James R. Service.

At one point during carquals and FRS (22 August-–1 September 1987), Enterprise accomplished 65 catapult launches and traps during a single hour on 31 August.  Enterprise again stood out for FRS qualifications, including TA-4s from training carrier Lexington (AVT-16) and “various West Coast squadrons.”  She also conducted a NATO Sea Sparrow shoot before she returned to Alameda on 2 September.

From then through the end of September 1987, Enterprise completed a rigorous series of exercises in the southern California operating area and off San Clemente to prepare her for deploying, including ComptuEx 87-4, Kernal Blitz, an amphibious operation near Camp Pendleton, Advanced Tactical Assessment, and ReadiEx 87-4A, included live Harpoon and HARM shoots, together with a long range strike up to 850 NM, “24hr AAW” and “extended ASW.” Enterprise also anchored in Coronado Roads on 14 September, returning to Alameda on the 24th.

In the autumn of the year 1987, Enterprise participated in NorPac-87, considered the year’s operational highlight for the ship, with “multi-faceted” evolutions being conducted in “an opposed environment under less than optimum climactic operating conditions.” NorPac-87 made severe demands on the crew, forcing them to endure “high sea states, low visibility, bitter cold weather and around-the-clock flying.”

Enterprise conducted additional carquals in the waters off southern California (25 October-–1 November 1987), before sailing on the latter date for Alaskan waters. The following day (2 November 1987), however, she suffered the loss of Petty Officer 2nd Class Marble (Air Department) in a flight deck accident (E-2 Hawkeye propeller), as she was steaming on northerly courses in the vicinity of San Francisco.

Ultimately, Enterprise reached the Gulf of Alaska without further incident on 7 November 1987, having conducted TARPS runs and strikes in the vicinity of the Canadian air station at Comox, British Columbia, en route, together with Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) between F-14s and USAF F-15C Eagles flying out of Eielson AFB, Alaska. She combined those evolutions with bombing runs to Eileson’s “mock-up” airfield 300 NM inland and ASW to seaward with attack submarine Tunny (SSN-682).

After arriving in Alaskan waters, Enterprise pursued a three-phase operating schedule.  In Phase I, Enterprise steamed in the Gulf of Alaska, 8–10 November, reaching her farthest point north during NorPac-87 on the 8th, at 58ºN, 148ºW. On the 9th and 10th, she launched a follow-on strike against the Eielson complex, with operations including AAW versus B-52s, DACT with F-15s, and a “mini” weapon exercise with command ship Coronado (AGF-11), in which Vice Admiral Hernandez, Com3rdFlt, had broken his flag. She also carried out Spidernet/Slyfox exercises. During that time, Enterprise found time to host a visiting delegation led by Governor of Alaska Steve Cowper.

During Phase II, Enterprise conducted an opposed transit to Naval Station, Adak, and the Sitkin Sound Operations Area (11–-13 November 1987), followed by Phase III (13-17 November), performing haven operations in and around Sitkin Sound. The former involved a grueling 10 hours of radar navigation in restricted waters. Operations increased in tempo as the exercise progressed, Enterprise launching simulated strikes against military installations as well as performing CAP and AEW, ASW versus attack submarine Olympia (SSN-717) and mine warfare with S-3A Vikings. Sadly, during Phase III, Enterprise lost Chief Warrant Officer 4  Brashear  overboard on 14 November; an intensive search failed to recover him.

Operating in Sitkin Sound, a “bounded sea haven” approximately 10 by 15 NM, surrounded on three sides by mountainous terrain varying in height from 2,000-–5,000 feet presented tremendous navigating and flying problems for both the ship and her embarked air wing.  Accordingly, Enterprise'’s men “developed special departure and recovery procedures designed to provide terrain clearance and easily understood procedures for all weather operations.”

As could be expected, given their proximity, the Soviets monitored NorPac-87 intensively, including reconnaissance flights by Tu-95D Bears and Tu-16 Badgers on 13, 15, 16 and 17 November, all intercepted by Tomcats and EA-6Bs, initially at 220 NM out from the battle group, while Balzam-class AGI SSV-080 watched the proceedings “throughout Sitkin Sound Haven ops.”  Although Enterprise accomplished a live firing of an AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile, the persistent presence of SSV-080 forced the cancellation of the scheduled live Harpoon firing. Foul weather compelled cancellation of an HS-6 torpedo exercise.

Enterprise came about on 18 November 1987, returning via southeasterly courses to NAS Alameda, arriving on the 24th.  Observers detected no Soviet aerial or surface surveillance during the return voyage, although, usually, Russian subs were known to be active in the area.

During 1987, Enterprise completed 28 UnReps with 10 different ships, including three ammunition onloads with ammunition ships, including 312 pallets with Pyro (AE-24) on 6 April, 456 pallets with Kiska (AE-35) on 7 July, and 250 pallets with Mt. Hood (AE-29) on 23 September. She also completed 13,959 catapult launches, 10,240 day and 3,719 night, and 13,961 arrested landings, 9,690 day and 4,271 night.

Enterprise deployed on 5 January 1988, with Rear Admiral R.G. Zeller, ComCruDesGru-3, Captain James B. Perkins, III, Commodore, ComDesRon-9, and CVW-11. The ship conducted carrier qualifications off the southern California operating area, 5–6 January, following which she steamed to the Hawaiian Operations Area, Kaulakahi Channel and Nihoa Island, conducting a long range strike to the Pohakuloa training area, on the 9th.

Two days later she arrived north of Oahu to commence ReadiEx 87-4B, a battle group exercise testing her ability to respond to “mines, small boats, terrorist planes” and Chinese Silkworm SSMs, while escorting/supporting convoys in a simulated Persian Gulf environment. Maintaining BFD, she finished the exercise with a 42-aircraft night strike. Operations included Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACs), ASW, power projection strikes, and live firings of a Harpoon, two AIM-7 Sparrows, four Sidewinders and a Shrike. An ASW passive acoustic training system was also developed, providing realistic recognition and threat analysis of actual submarine signatures. 

Continued Iranian and Iraqi attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf, meanwhile, were becoming so frequent that the Kuwaitis requested U.S. assistance and Operation Earnest Will, designed to maintain freedom of navigation within that body of water, was initiated. At the outset, 11 Kuwaiti tankers were “re-flagged,” the Middle East Force escorting the first ships through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf to Kuwait, and then returning outbound, beginning on 22 July 1987. By the time the operation ended on 16 August 1990, 490 missions involving 649 merchant ships were completed. The training acted as a precursor for Enterprise, shortly to be involved in Earnest Will.

Admiral Jeremiah, CinCPac, and Vice Admiral Hernandez came on board for tours and an awards ceremony, on the 13th. En route into WestPac, Enterprise completed ASW and AAW operations with naval, USMC, USAF and Japanese commands. Mishaps, however, reminded all hands of the hazards inherent in carrier operations: an A-7E from VA-22 and its pilot, the plane captain, were lost when the Corsair II slid off aircraft elevator No. 2 during a respot, during the mid watch on 16 January. Three days later, the squadron lost NH 305, another Corsair II, during Dissimilar Air Combat Maneuvering (DACM), though the pilot ejected and was recovered uninjured.

As she had done in the past, Enterprise again provided humanitarian aid during that deployment. On 22 January 1988, a crewman on board the Japanese fishing vessel Yahata Maru 81, operating within range of the carrier, suffered a ruptured spleen and began going into shock, requiring immediate medical attention.  Enterprise transferred a helo to Truxtun, which brought the patient back to the carrier for surgery, which was successfully completed on 1 February, when he was then transported to Subic Bay. The severity of his injuries necessitated blood donations from 12 crewmembers.

Chopping to the 7th Fleet on 25 January 1988, Enterprise once again found herself the object of attention by the familiar Bear Bs and Ds on the 25th, 26th and 29th, though in each instance, her Tomcats saw the Intruders off. Vice Admiral Miller, Com7thFlt, brought Japanese Admiral Higoshiyama on board for a tour and aerial demonstration, on 30 January.

Enterprise moored at Subic Bay (1–5 February 1988), after which time the ship stood out of Subic Bay with 17 distinguished Filipino visitors on board, including that country’s CNO, Acting Commander, Air Force, and Chief of Naval Aviation, on 6 February. The ship provided an orientation and air demonstration, including firing a pair of Sidewinders at an AQM-37 target drone.

Subsequerntly, two days out of the Philippines Enterprise’s embarked Tomcats intercepted Bear Ds and Fs, escorted by MiG-23 Floggers, all flying out of Cam Ranh Bay. In addition, Mayak-class AGI Aneroid followed in the carrier’s “trail.” Rendezvousing with Singaporean forces, including patrol boats, F-5s and A-4s, on the 9 February 1988, Enterprise conducted a PassEx with them, some air evolutions being cancelled due to foul weather. The next day the ship transited the Strait of Malacca, tracking 267 shipping contacts in the crowded channel. Limited operations with the Indonesians followed, CVW-11 aircraft accomplishing low-level training over Sumatra, on 11 February. Overnight and into the 12th, the ship completed a PassEx with Indonesian frigates north of Sumatra, activities including “tactical maneuvering” and a gun exercise off her starboard beam. Rendezvousing with Midway, Enterprise then conducted a turnover, consisting of meetings and cross-deckings (14–-15 February). Chopping to TF 800 on the 17th, Rear Admiral Zeller then presented to Enterprise the Meritorious Unit Commendation for her 1986 deployment, in a ceremony on the flight deck.

The first identified Soviet reaction to BG Foxtrot’s entry into the Indian Ocean occurred when a pair of Il-38s flying out of Aden shadowed Enterprise, being intercepted by the ship’s F-14As, on 18 February 1988. Five days later, the ship hosted a Saudi delegation led by members of the Saudi Royal Family and the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hume A. Horan, an aerial demonstration being held.

A joint Franco-American exercise between Enterprise and Clemenceau, followed on 5 March and on 7–8 March 1988, with French Admiral Deramond visiting on the latter date; the evolution punctuated by Enterprise being shadowed by Soviet Mays flying out of Aden (vectoring F-14As to intercept them on at least one occasion on the 10th), sighting a Pakistani C-130 (25 February), intercepting and tracking a Russian AN-12 Cub transport, (1 and 3 March), and a Helix helo launched from Udaloy class destroyer Admiral Tributs, which was intercepted by the wing’s Tomcats, on 25 February and again on 6 March.

Enterprise, meanwhile, completed her first Earnest Will mission on 25 February 1988, her embarked aircraft flying 17 F-14A escort/CAP, 12 tanker, five EA-6B and three E-2C sorties. Inside a fortnight, Enterprise embarked the three-man crew from an SH-2F from HSL-35 Det 7, embarked in Bagley, that crashed on 5 March 1988. Though not suffering major injuries, the three men were transported to the carrier for medical evaluation, returning to their ship following the mishap investigation. Rear Admiral Anthony A. Less, Combined Joint Task Force Middle East (CJTFME) visited Enterprise, on 9 March. Four days later, Enterprise crossed the equator. Program for Afloat College Education (PACE) instructor Joseph Schweigenhoffer, who first “Crossed the Line” in 1936 on board battleship Arizona (BB-39), portrayed King Neptune.

Enterprise anchored off Mombasa (15-–18 March 1988) and hosted visitors that included U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Elinor Greer Constable. Eight civilian cargo vessels/tugs contracted to ferry the liberty party ashore, however, evidenced unfamiliarity with naval equipment; one tore the aft accommodation ladder from its mountings while navigating in “offsetting currents” running as high as three–four knots. The ladder was recovered and repaired within a few hours.

Enterprise stood out of Mombasa on 18 March 1988, and headed for Somalia, over which her aircraft flew low-level flights, from the 20th-–22nd. In addition, Lieutenant Commander Laughler, VA-22, made the ship’s 4,000th landing of the cruise. While steaming north northeast of Socotra on the 23rd, the carrier again found herself shadowed by Russian Mays out of Aden, the snoopers being intercepted by her Tomcats.

Enterprise conducted her second Earnest Will support mission from the Gulf of Oman, including CAP, SUCAP and ASW, on 26 March 1988; and was shadowed by an Iranian P-3F.  She subsequently anchored near al Masirah Island for a brief standdown, holding “flight deck Olympics,” including a tractor-driving contest, from the 27th–-28th. During the deployment, two destroyer tenders, Cape Cod (AD-43) and Samuel Gompers (AD-37), lay anchored nearby at various times, enabling forward support to Enterprise and her group, supplemented by COD aircraft routed through Diego Garcia and al Masirah.

On 29 March 1988, Enterprise dispatched a “material exploitation team” to Samuel Gompers by helo to inspect a small Iranian boat. Seized in the Persian Gulf by destroyer John Rodgers (DD-983), the vessel was identified as that utilized by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a raider, such boats also often ending their careers as suicide craft.

The wing’s aircrews, meanwhile, kept busy, and on the 30th intercepted a pair of Russian aircraft en route to their delivery to the Indians, a May and a Bear F. Meanwhile, an entourage led by Ambassador Montgomery visited the ship, an aerial demonstration being performed.

Commander Tad Chamberlain, CO, VA-94, made Enterprise’s 265,000th arrested landing in an A-7E, on 1 April 1988. The ship anchored off al Masirah to enable the crew to celebrate Easter, 2–4 April.

Soviet surveillance continued unabated, and Admiral Tribut’s Helix remained on the Enterprise’s “trail” for 15 hours (5-–6 April 1988). On the latter date, another May out of Aden was also intercepted, and the ship performed her third Earnest Will mission with multiple CAP, SUCAP and AEW sorties, on the 8th.

Following a “disastrous” explosion at a Pakistani army depot in Islamabad, the ship dispatched an EOD team to that city to render assistance, on 10 April. The next day U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain Sam H. Zakhem visited Enterprise.

A joint Franco-American exercise was held with Clemenceau, consisting of “war-at-sea strikes,” 12–14 April 1988. The men of Enterprise held an air show for their French counterparts, and hosted the Omani Assistant Chief of Air Staff. Planes from the ship intercepted another Soviet Il-38 out of Aden on the 12th.

Mines continued to be a threat in these constricted waters since the previous summer, when tanker Bridgeton struck one west of Farsi Island, on 24 July 1987, and a helo from frigate Jarrett (FFG-33) surprised Iran Ajr, a modified Iranian landing craft laying mines north of Bahrain, in September 1987. Disabling Iran Ajr with rockets and machine gun fire, the helo crew enabled a Sea-air-Land (SEAL) team to board, photograph and impound the minelayer, the next day.

While steaming 55 miles northeast of Qatar on 14 April 1988, however, lookouts on board guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) spotted three mines ahead. Going to general quarters, the ship soon struck a fourth mine that exploded and blew a 21-foot hole in her port side near frame 276, injuring ten sailors, and inflicting “considerable damage to the hull, deckhouse and foundation structures, essentially breaking the ship’s back.”  Herculean damage control efforts by the crew, however, saved the ship. Over the next ten days, Coalition mine countermeasures vessels located eight additional mines, examination of which left little doubt as to their Iranian origins.

During 15–16 April 1988, planning commenced for “potential retaliation” for the mining, and for an earlier incident on 5 March when Iranians on Sassan, an oil platform from which they had been attacking shipping, fired upon a pair of helos from guided missile frigate Simpson (FFG-56).  Multiple meetings took place with “much interaction between flag, ship and airwing.” Much of the responsibility for the operation’s planning and execution fell upon the men of Enterprise and CVW-11. On these dates she also refueled guided missile destroyers Lynde McCormick (DDG-8) and Joseph Strauss, and frigate Reasoner, in preparation for battle. In addition, an Iranian P-3F was intercepted patrolling over the Gulf of Oman.

On the 16th, BG Foxtrot ships began repositioning for potential execution of plans against the Iranians. Commodore Perkins departed Enterprise for embarkation on board Lynde McCormick, Enterprise becoming the Anti-air Warfare Commander for Operation Praying Mantis, the “measured response” adopted by the U.S., aimed at attacking Sassan, as well as two other Iranian oil platforms, Sirri and Raksh. President Reagan and Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., Chairman, JCS, issued rules of engagement, that allowed the Americans to defend themselves should Iranian planes or warships challenge them. Among the latter was the Saam-class frigate Sabalan, notorious for her “vicious” attacks against unarmed merchant ships in the Persian Gulf, in which she had made it a point to fire at crew’s quarters.

Intelligence analysts assessed a photograph taken on the 14th of an Iranian dhow with a “bulbous, netted device hanging off stern plus several round objects in water astern” as a probable minelayer, indicating additional danger to the group. A special mine watch was therefore established on board Enterprise, and escorts were stationed ahead and astern of her while in formation steaming.

Three SAGs were formed, the first two to assault the rigs and the third, operating off Bandar Abbas, to neutralize the Iranian fleet therein, especially Sabalan. E-2Cs from Enterprise flew AEW tracking and analyzed targets, along with air intercept control, F-14As few CAP and A-6Es and A-7Es performed surface CAP.

The action lasted all day, 0730–-1900 on 18 April 1988. Throughout the battle, Enterprise steamed to the south of Jāsk, Iran, in company with Truxtun. SAG Bravo began action apparently catching the Iranians by surprise, as great commotion ensued on the rig, men running about with small arms, shouting and gesticulating and manning at least one of three ZSU-23-2 23 mm guns emplaced on the rig’s three-tiered southernmost deck. The destroyers broadcast a warning in English and Farsi, granting the Iranians a five-minute reprieve before they opened fire, just enough time for about 29 of the estimated 60 men on board to scramble onto two tugs and escape. Merrill (DD-976) and Lynde McCormick then opened up, firing 133 5-inch rounds using proximity fuzes for air bursts above the platform, a retaliatory raid against Rostam, another Iranian rig, on 19 October 1987, having required more ammunition but failed to disable the strong concrete and steel supports.  The Americans learned their lesson and against Sassan air bursts worked well, devastating the vulnerable upper works of the structure. Despite fierce resistance by the remaining Iranians, who returned fire with one of the three ZSU-23-2s, not a single hit was scored against either destroyer.  Four AH-1 Cobra gunships then cleared the way for a vertical assault from 150 Marines from Marine Contingency Air Ground TF 2-88, embarked on board dock landing ship Trenton (LPD-14), who rappelled down ropes from hovering C-46s. After securing the rig, any facilities that had “weathered” the battle were blown by demolitions.

At one point one of the tugs radioed the U.S. ships, requesting permission to return and evacuate about 30 Iranians, and the request was granted, the Americans holding fire for approximately 45 minutes during the process. Radio traffic indicated at least one Iranian killed and another wounded, though additional casualties may have been inflicted.  Commodore Perkins also noted: "“We believe that Sassan was a communications and surveillance station…. We found weapons, ammunition and communications gear."” Referring to the seizure of the rig, he added “It was a textbook example of how a combined Navy-Marine Corps operation ought to go.” The weapons were of the type utilized by the Iranians in their speedboat raids.

Off Bandar Abbas, Wainwright (CG-28), Bagley and Simpson shelled the Sirri oil platform, but found themselves challenged by Iranian La Combattante II Kaman class missile boat Joshan. The Americans warned her to stand clear, but Joshan disregarded the warning and fired a Harpoon. Wainwright turned her bow into the missile and fired chaff, the missile locking onto the ensuing fog cloud 100 feet off the starboard beam, a near miss. The cruiser retaliated with a salvo of six Standards and then a Harpoon, practically blasting Joshan out of the water. Streaking to the latter’s aid was an Iranian F-4 Phantom II, but as the aircraft closed the ship, Wainwright damaged it with another couple of Standards, the F-4 crew retiring homeward.  Another pair of Phantom IIs out of Bandar Abbas, and one flying from Bandar Būshehr, a coastal station further north, also were detected, but after being tracked by Lynde McCormick’s radar, retired.

Meanwhile, the Americans decided to cease action, believing to have made their point, but the Iranians continued by sending Saam-class frigate Sahand across the Gulf to attack U.A.E. oil platforms. A pair of A-6Es from VA-95 flying surface CAP for Joseph Strauss spotted Sahand but were almost immediately attacked by the Iranians. After avoiding SAMs launched from the ship, the Intruder crews responded with two Harpoons, two WE-IIs, four AGM-123s, three Mk 82 LGBs, 18 Mk 20s and 18 Mk 83s. Joseph Strauss finished Sahand off with another Harpoon, the fires burning furiously on her decks eventually reaching her magazines and touching off explosions leading to her sinking.

An Iranian speedboat flotilla of five Swedish-built Boghammers attacked Murbaric Oil Platform, an American-flagged supply ship and a Panamanian-flagged ship, but was turned back by a pair of Intruders from Enterprise, the A-6Es sinking one of the Boghammers and “damaging several others.

Late in the afternoon, two AH-1Ts from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA)-167, embarked in Trenton, were ordered toward Wainwright to identify “hostile surface contacts.” As Warrior 1-1 was being towed off the helo landing spot, preparing to secure for the evening, Warrior 1-2, Aircraft No. 34 (BuNo 161018), Captain Kenneth W. Hill, USMC, and Captain Stephen C. Leslie, USMC, responded to a call from the cruiser’s CIC to identify a contact. Closing, Warrior 1-2 suddenly reported “being locked up” and dropped from Wainwright’s radar. An immediate CSAR failed to reveal either wreckage or survivors. Hill and Leslie were both later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their heroism throughout the action.

When the fighting erupted, Sabalan, one of the original targets, was underway, but being apparently warned by radio, came about, fleeing at high speed into Bandar Abbas, hiding by anchoring between a pair of tankers. At 1700, however, the Iranians committed their naval reserve, Sabalan clearing Bandar Abbas. As she did so, Sabalan was spotted by several A-6Es from VA-95 and fired three SAMs at the Intruders, their crews deftly avoiding the missiles. The aircrews responded by dropping a 500 lb Mk 82 LGB down the frigate’s stack, which detonated with devastating force in her engineering spaces, stopping Sabalan dead in the water.

Although Rear Admiral Less requested permission to finish off Sabalan, Admiral Crowe and Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, monitoring the operation from the “Pentagon War Room,” ended the battle, Admiral Crowe saying to the Secretary: “We’ve shed enough blood today.”

The attack on Raksh was also cancelled, due to the success of the strikes against Sassan and Sirri. The battle group commander later commented that intelligence support, largely provided by or disseminated by Enterprise, proved to be “the most crucial factor” in U.S. success. The “decisiveness” demonstrated by the U.S. naval forces “stunned” the Iranians, and in combination with the attrition of the long war and recent Iraqi victories, proved instrumental in driving Teheran to seek a compromise peace.

On 21 April 1988 , CNO Admiral C.A.H. Trost, referred to the Sailors and Marines who participated in Praying Mantis, saying in part “Your actions have sent a clear message of resolve to those nations that may choose to challenge the right of free navigation of international waters.”

Enterprise remained “on hold” south of Jāsk, continuing to launch CAP, SUCAP and SST sorties into the Strait of Hormuz with occasional F-14A photographic reconnaissance into the southern Persian Gulf (19–22 April 1988), on the latter date completing an Earnest Will mission “with no incidents.” With tensions still high in the region, abetted by the televised funeral (on 21 April) of 44 Iranian sailors killed during the battle, amid crowds of mourners chanting against the U.S. and the Iraqis, Enterprise aircrews maintained a high mission tempo. Planes from the “Big E” flew CAP, SUCAP and ASW missions supporting the outchop of a surface action group (SAG) from the Persian Gulf on the 24th and recorded no Iranian reaction to the movement. Two days later, Enterprise conducted another Earnest Will mission in support of four inbound tankers and their three escorts. Subsequently, Enterprise exercised with the French Clemenceau CVBG, including “Sledgehammer” operations, a Silkworm missile attack simulation and aerial gunnery (28-29 April).

The first “feet wet” Iranian maritime aerial patrol since the U.S. retaliation on the 18th, occurred when an Enterprise F-14A intercepted an Iranian C-130 over the Gulf of Oman, on 30 April 1988. For the most part, April proved to be the busiest month of 1988, with 1,522 day and 439 night aircraft launches, and 1,297 day and 665 night recoveries.

Enterprise completed an Earnest Will mission on 1 May, supporting two outbound tankers and their two escorts, as well as hosting a visit by Ambassador Montgomery and the Omani CNO. The next day the carrier completed another Earnest Will mission, supporting three inbound tankers and two escorts.

Russian aerial monitoring of the ship and her operations renewed with the interception of a May flying out of Aden, on 4 May 1988. Two days later, Enterprise conducted an Earnest Will mission, supporting two tankers and their two escorts. Catapult No. 1 logged its 96,000th shot, on the 7th. Rear Admiral Less visited Enterprise on 10 May, to present Combat Action Awards to men of VA-95 who had distinguished themselves during Praying Mantis.

The ship completed her last Earnest Will mission of the deployment, on 13 May 1988, her planes intercepting an Iranian P-3F over the Gulf of Oman. The next day, several F-14As flew into the Strait of Hormuz to assess the aftermath of a “large-scale” Iranian attack on tankers southwest of Lārak Island. As the Iranians continued to test American resolve, planes from Enterprise intercepted an Iranian C-130 on the 16th, and a P-3F the next day. The “Big E” was relieved by Forrestal (CV-59) 18–20 May, and as she egressed from the area, the carrier continued to be monitored by the Iranians, another P-3F being intercepted by an F-14A in the vicinity of the southern coast of Iran, on 19 May.

Guided missile frigate Jack Williams (FFG-24) distinguished herself against the Iranian fleet in the targeting role during Praying Mantis, utilizing her embarked SH-2Fs, HSL-32 Det 2, the first U.S. helos in the region with two door-mounted M-60 machine guns, infrared detection system and a missile detection and jamming system. As the Iranians took reprisals, carrying out two days of attacks against neutral merchant ships attempting to sail in the southern Persian Gulf, Enterprise conducted a SAG escort mission, sending A-6Es and A-7Es into the Strait of Hormuz in support of Jack Williams, which was protecting ships, on 20 May 1988.

Rear Admiral “Snuffy” Smith, ComCarGru-6, visited Enterprise to complete the “turnover” as the ship prepared to leave the region; coming about from the region at 1515 on 21 May 1988; the carrier then headed across the Indian Ocean and chopped to the 7th Fleet. While in the Indian Ocean, she had the opportunity to track an Indian Kilo class submarine. Later, Enterprise participated in INDUSA XI , a PassEx with the Indonesians consisting of low level aerial runs over Sumatra, 25–27 May, during which her planes also tracked an Indonesian Type 209 class submarine. The carrier hosted groups of Indonesian and Malaysian visitors on board as she transited the Malacca Strait on the 28th.

As Enterprise crossed the South China Sea, she noted no “Soviet reaction,” either from planes based at Cam Rahn Bay or from an AGI stationed in the vicinity of the Spratley Islands (29–-31 May 1988). On the 31st, the ship also conducted carrier qualifications for VRC-50, then visited Subic Bay, the first liberty for the crew in 75 days (1–4 June).

Standing out of Subic Bay on the 5th-–6th, Enterprise steamed toward Hong Kong. An S-3A from VS-21, however, crashed immediately after being launched, killing three of the four crewmembers: Commander Robert Anderson, squadron CO, and Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class David Stentrom, whose bodies were recovered; Lieutenant (jg) Charles Roy, lost at sea; and Lieutenant (jg), who escaped with “minimal injuries.” The ship’s motor whaleboat was launched and utilized during the recovery of the fourth crewmember and the SAR swimmers. 

Following a visit to Hong Kong (6-10 June 1988), Enterprise sailed for the northern latitudes; she conducted an ASW exercise on the 12th–-13th, and DACT with the USAF and the Japanese on the 13th. Enterprise anchored off Pusan, Republic of Korea (14–-17 June), before she sailed for home. The carrier conducted ASW exercises and flight operations, transiting the Tsugaru Strait (18–-19 June), and conducted a weapons exercise against a Japanese SAG. Fog cancelled flight operations from the 19th–20th, and the ship chopped to the 3rd Fleet on the 20th. No sooner did the fog clear, however, than a Bear D was intercepted as it transited northeast from Petropavlovsk. Soviet air activity, including Backfires from Alekseyevka and Badgers from Petropavlovsk, became “moderately heavy” despite intermittent fog, 21-–22 June.

The next day, Enterprise conducted a weapon exercise with Carl Vinson in the Gulf of Alaska, the latter steaming 400 NM northeast of the Enterprise. The weather proved “very bad,” with “quick deterioration,” ice fog, fog, heavy winds and high seas. Vice Admiral Fetterman was on board on the 26th, VA-95 and VAW-135 also flying off to NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. Two days later the carrier welcomed almost 1,100 Tigers on board while moored at Seattle.

Clearing that port on 29 June 1988, Enterprise held an air show while en route to her home port, with a “Steel Beach Picnic” on the 30th; the airwing began its fly off on 1 July. Enterprise returned from her deployment to Alameda on 2 July 1988.

Following standdown, she facilitated FRS and Carrier qualifications for active duty training of CVWR-30, 10–14 August 1988. The ship recorded her 270,000th arrested landing on 14 August, the last day of that period of work. Promoting voter registration, Reverend Jesse Jackson visited the ship on the 20th, and Enterprise off-loaded 813 pallets of ammunition the next two days on two 12 hour underway replenishments.

Captain Spane made his 1,000th arrested landing on board the ship in an A-7E while she was steaming off the southern California operating area, on 24 August 1988. Enterprise held her Annual Dependent’s Day Cruise two days later, when she hosted over 2,400 guests and provided them a picnic in the hanger bay, a USO show, five bands and an air show.

From 1 October 1988–10 April 1989, Enterprise completed an SRA at Alameda, “early work” beginning on 16 September. Among the services completed was overhaul of all four catapults and modifications to the RIM-7M missile system. During 1988, the airwing had accumulated 20,903 flight hours, the ship also transitioning E-2C support from AN/USM-247 VAST to AN/USM-467 RadCom. Throughout her SRA, Enterprise lay moored at Alameda. She conducted pre-flight deck certification, 9–12 January 1989, 40 flight deck sailors cross-decking to Carl Vinson for refresher training, 25 January–2 February. In March, the nonskid for the entire hanger deck was replaced. Enterprise completed the SRA on 10 April, the Fleet Training Group inspected her the next day. Additional training and inspections while in port followed.

Ultimately, Enterprise stood out of Alameda for post-SRA sea trials and carrier qualifications in the southern California operating area, 13–28 April 1989. On two separate underway replenishments with ammunition ship Pyro (AE-24), Enterprise onloaded 805 and 148 pallets of ammunition, respectively, on 19 and 20 April.  She repeated the procedure on 5 June, loading 142 more pallets from Mount Hood (AE-29).

Enterprise received the Battle “E” from Vice Admiral Fetterman on 27 April 1989, mooring at North Island, 28 April–1 May, anchoring at Coronado Roads on the 2nd, and again on the 9th.

Enterprise completed refresher traning in the southern California operating area, including air defense against naval aircraft, B-52s and North America B-1A Lancers, and tactical maneuvering with battleship Missouri, 1–-13 May 1989. She then completed ReadiEx 02-89 in the southern California operating area, conducting carquals, tactical exercises and cyclic flight operations with BG Foxtrot and Japanese units, 5–30 June. The crew enjoyed the opportunity of participating in the creation of the motion picture “The Hunt for Red October,” when Paramount Studios filmed scenes on board, 8–9 June.

Enterprise later took part in ComptuEx 89-4, including mock raids from “multiple aircraft in a hostile electromagnetic operating environment,” and from the Japanese, 19-–26 June 1989, followed by her Advanced Training Assessment (ATA), including CIWS and missile firings, 27-–29 June. Shortly thereafter, on 30 June, CNO issued homeport change information, assigning Norfolk as Enterprise’s home port effective 15 April 1990

Subsequently, Enterprise participated in ReadiEx 89-4A, 25 July-–16 August 1989, working in scenarios that included multiple raids, communications jamming and radar jamming. Although two men were lost overboard on the 29th, both were recovered uninjured.

Ultimately, Enterprise deployed from Alameda for World Cruise 89–-90, on 17 September 1989. CVW-11 was again embarked, with the same composition as the previous deployment. Rear Admiral Strasser, ComCruDesGru-3, was Commander, BG Foxtrot, while Captain Linton Wells, II, ComDesRon-21, commanded the other ships of the group. Enterprise transited to Cape Flattery Operations Area to rendezvous with 3rd Fleet forces, including Carl Vinson and Constellation, for PacEx 89, a joint large-scale training evolution involving U.S., Japanese and ROK forces.  Dual carrier operations were conducted with “real time” coordination used to “resolve air traffic control airspace conflicts.” However, northern latitudes “complicated” the exercise with “adverse weather and sea states.”

Enterprise transited the northern Pacific, steaming northwesterly courses, skirting the Aleutians. Conducting her transit in EmCon, she relied heavily upon EW information in lieu of radar to track Soviet aircraft. A man fell overboard on 22 September 1989, though being recovered without injury. Chopping to Com7thFlt operational control, on 1 October, the ship spent the entire month operating in the vicinity of Japan and South Korea. The “Big E” participated in AnnualEx 01G, Tandem Alley and Valiant Blitz 89 with the Carl Vinson, Missouri and New Jersey (BB-62) battle groups, together with the Japanese.

Enterprise conducted open ocean AAW exercises, together with an opposed transit, ASUW and support of amphibious operations, though interrupted by “near daily” Soviet aerial reconnaissance flights. From 1–7 October 1989, she operated off Hokkaidō, Japan, then off Okinawa, 8–14 October. Admiral Huntington Hardisty, CinCPac, visited the ship during that period, on the 11th. On the 14th, Enterprise steamed in a joint U.S. and Japanese formation of 48 ships, including Carl Vinson, Missouri and New Jersey, hosting over 300 Japanese and ROK dignitaries and military personnel, and conducting a fire power demonstration.

Russian interference increased during Valiant Blitz 89, 15–28 October 1989, as Enterprise transited the Strait of Tsushima into the Sea of Japan, her proximity to Soviet air bases reducing range and flight time. Almost “daily,” Russian flights included “anti-carrier exercises” against the force, once involving a huge simulated strike of at least 34 Badgers. Enterprise steamed off the east coast of South Korea, supporting amphibious landings, altogether accumulating 45 continuous days at sea.

Enterprise came about on 28 October 1989 and then proceeded, via the Luzon Strait, to Hong Kong, where she enjoyed “good weather and a quiet anchorage” (31 October-–5 November). Clearing the Crown Colony, she then conducted carquals and cyclic flight operations in support of Cope Thunder, a joint Navy and USAF power projection exercise west of Luzon, before mooring at Cubi Point on 11 November.

Less than a fortnight later, Enterprise cleared Subic Bay to evade Typhoon Hunt (21–23 November 1989), returning on the 24th as the storm passed over northern Luzon, avoiding Subic. Upkeep, carquals, and training with Midway followed.

Transiting Verde Island South Passage, Enterprise entered Tayabas Bay for “near land operations” (30 November-–1 December 1989). Tayabas Bay proved a “demanding” operating area, requiring special procedures with “modifications to accommodate the close proximity to mountainous terrain which made standard carrier approach procedures unusable.”

Enterprise returned via Verde Island North Passage and Calavite Passage to Leyte Pier on 1 December 1989, but a contingency sortie began soon thereafter due to an attempted Filipino military coup d’état against the Philippine government.  Enterprise cleared the harbor in barely an hour, rendezvousing with Midway for Operation Classic Resolve, supporting the regime in Manila and preparing for the possible evacuation of Americans. Steaming with BG Alpha at Banca Station off the west coast of Luzon, the carriers stood by, launching Hawkeyes providing “continuous” radar coverage of the Manila Bay area. 

During the second of two underway replenishments conducted during Classic Resolve, a nighttime transfer of 90 pallets of cargo with the MSC-operated combat stores ship Spica (T-AFS-9) on 7 December 1989, a group of small Filipino fishing vessels suddenly appeared ahead. Both Enterprise and Spica conducted emergency breakaways, the latter coming too close as the ships slowly turned together to port. Both ships “compensated in an opposite direction,” opening rapidly, and quick thinking by Enterprise'’s Boatswain’s Mate Senior Chief Everett averted further damage or casualties by approaching a rig from behind the padeye and releasing the pelican hook, causing the entire rig to carry away, “bouncing once near the deck edge before going over the side.”  

With the resolution of the crisis in the Philippines, meanwhile, Midway came about for her homeport of Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan, Enterprise returning to Cubi Point, 8-–10 December 1989, before she continued with her deployment to the Indian Ocean. Enterprise next visited Pattaya Beach, Thailand (14-–19 December).

Enterprise next visited Singapore, completing two underway replenishments en route, one with ammunition ship Kilauea (T-AE-26) on 20 December 1989, off-loading 21 pallets of ammunition before outchopping from the Pacific Fleet for the last time for many years.  Upon arriving in Singapore, the ship dropped anchor in Man of War Anchorage, 22-–28 December. While there she was joined by ships of New Jersey’s BG Romeo, returning from the Indian Ocean.

At approximately 1700 on Christmas Eve, 1989, the quartermaster reported Enterprise'’s position to be outside of her drag circle. The afternoon tide shift and 20 knot winds had swung her to the west of the anchorage and over the next two hours caused the carrier to drag anchor approximately 120 yards toward cruiser Lake Champlain (CG-57), anchored about 600 yards away. Slow dragging continued, so that after the captain’s return by gig at 1830, Enterprise weighed anchor and shifted into the eastern half of the original anchorage. Alert watchstanders had prevented what would almost certainly have been a collision, with dire results in those crowded waters.

Standing out of Singapore, Enterprise transited the Strait of Malacca, conducting “coordinated operations” with the Malaysian Navy, 28-–29 December 1989. The ship transited the Nicobar Strait into the Bay of Bengal, en route to Diego Garcia, 29–31 December 1989, conducting one of her last evolutions of the year, an underway replenishment of 187 pallets of food from combat stores ship Niagara Falls (AFS-3) on the 30th. Commander Eckstein and Hospital Corpsman Master Chief Rosario then flew to destroyer Hewitt (DD-966) for an overnight medical “assist visit.”

Battle Week exercises highlighted early-to-mid January 1990, including air-to-air missile shoots in the vicinity of Diego Garcia (4–8 January 1990). Rear Admiral Strasser flew ashore to Diego Garcia on the 3rd, returning to the ship on 16 January. After extending Battle Week into the morning of the 9th, Enterprise came about that afternoon for the northern Arabian Sea.

Enterprise crossed the equator on 10 January 1990, “cleansing” herself of 2,800 pollywogs. Chopping to CJTFME on 12 January, she hosted a visit by U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain Charles Warren Hostler on 14 January. Her Tomcats intercepted an Iranian P-3F on 15 January, and Wichita (AOR-1) combined with a C-141 for a unique resupply on the 16th and 27th–28th.  The ship participated in William Tell operations in the northern Arabian Sea, 22–28 January. “Diplomatic clearance” was cancelled for al Masirah airhead by the Omanis (though no reason was given), on 23 January. Nonetheless, Enterprise few TARPS reconnaissance missions, supported by a USAF Boeing KC-10 Extender. Additionally, while conducting Earnest Will convoy operations, the ship’s “EW Module” was the primary means of identifying both Iranian reconnaissance planes, and the many commercial aircraft continually transiting the skies in the area.

Although conducting reduced flight operations, Enterprise remained alert, a status demonstrated impressively as the ship attempted to have a “steel beach” picnic on 25 January 1990. Detecting a plane flying south out of Iran, approaching the carrier on a direct interception course, the ship went to general quarters and vectored her alert CAP toward the intruder. The stranger, a Soviet Cub, veered off and passed Enterprise 38 NM to the west.

Beefsteak 704, an S-3A, diverted to al Masirah due to a “degradation” of flight controls, on 27 January 1990; two days later, the C-1A flew off to al Masirah to test and finish installation of internal fuel tanks, before repositioning to Diego Garcia. Anchoring at al Masirah on noon of the 30th, Enterprise remained in the area with Long Beach to recover Beefsteak 704, while SAG Foxtrot, comprising Hewitt, Berkeley, Bagley, Rathburne, Niagara Falls and Ponchatoula, “formed up” under Captain Wells to begin steaming east to outchop the northern Arabian Sea, Wichita detaching by southerly courses toward Diego Garcia. Recovering Beefsteak 704, together with mechanics via a Sea King, in the middle of the afternoon watch on the 31st, Enterprise and Long Beach stood out of al Masirah, outchopping from the north Arabian Sea at the end of the mid watch on 2 February.

The next day, 3 February 1990, Enterprise put on speed to “get ahead” of two typhoons, canceling flight operations and maintaining an SOA of 27 knots. By the 4th, the typhoons “were no longer a factor,” though maintaining the speed, just in case, also learning that no more COD flights would be available until 2 March. Two days later (6 February), the ship finally held her “steel beach” picnic, an event impossible soon thereafter as high winds and rain predominated during her passage around the Cape of Good Hope en route to Brazil, often forcing cancellation of flight operations.

Chopping to Com2ndFlt overnight on 11 February, the ship experienced a narrow brush two days later when a helo reported a “mine” floating in the water. An EOD team boarded a second helo to reach the scene, but discovering that they did not have film to photograph the object of their interest, prompting a new Enterprise rule: “all helos will be photo capable.”

Enterprise anchored at Rio de Janeiro (18-–22 February 1990), her first liberty port in 52 days. Underway from Rio on the 23rd, the ship steamed northerly courses, aeromedically evacuating a patient from Long Beach on the 25th, flying him on the next day to the naval hospital at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.

Following a week of flying in the Puerto Rican Operations Area, including E-2C and S-3 drug interdiction alerts on 2 March 1990, Enterprise visited St. Thomas (5-–9 March). Standing out of that port, the first 30 aircraft from CVW-11 flew off on 10 March, making room for a key ammunition off-load. The ship slipped into Port Everglades Anchorage, off Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., embarking over 1,200 male dependents, on 12 March, flying a “spectacular” air show for the Tigers, the last aircraft flying off on the 14th. Prior to entering her new home port, Enterprise conducted an ammunition offload with carriers Saratoga and Theodore Roosevelt and ammunition ship Santa Barbara (AE-28), off the coast of Florida.

Enterprise returned from her World Cruise 89–-90 to Norfolk, Va., on 16 March 1990. All aircraft that started the deployment returned safely home after completing 8,410 launches and recoveries.

Enterprise conducted a fast cruise on 7 May 1990, and then got underway for independent steaming exercises (9–-16 May) On 4 June, she completed another fast cruise, followed by carquals off the Virginia capes (6-–15 June).  Accomplishing a fast cruise on 9 July, the carrier then stood out for further carquals from the 11th–-18th. On 20 July, a “superb” Dependent’s Day Cruise airshow proved a “fitting wrap-up” to the last fixed wing air flight operations scheduled on board until 1994. Following a fast cruise on 6 August, Enterprise conducted additional training (8–14 August) at sea. Enterprise shifted berths, moving over to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., 18 days ahead of schedule to avoid Hurricane Lili, on 12 October.

Most of the crew onloaded Floating Accommodation Facility (FAF), a $20 million barge fitted with berthing, galleys, office space and medical facilities (1–5 November 1990), cutting the ribbon establishing FAF during a ceremony on the 8th. During a reception at The Mariner’s Museum, Hampton, Va., sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce, the day was declared “USS Enterprise Day” by the mayors of Newport News and Hampton, on 14 November. Also in November, Enterprise sent six deck department petty officers to the amphibious assault ship Tarawa (LHA-1) for six months in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

12 September 2005

Published: Wed Jul 08 07:53:44 EDT 2015