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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: 1991-1995
On 17 March 1991, FAF was moved to Slipway 10, positioned next to Enterprise “in support of the Complex Overhaul/Refueling.” During 1992, Enterprise sent men from the air department to operational carriers, where “senior personnel honed their ABH skills,” and undesignated airmen were introduced to the “challenges” of working on a dangerous flight deck. Two detachments went to John F. Kennedy (CV-67) in March and May, three to Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) in June, September and November, and one each to George Washington (CVN-73) and Theodore Roosevelt in October.

Enterprise was transferred to AirLant on 1 October 1992, and the ship was towed from Dry Dock No. 11 to Pier 2, both at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., on 14 December 1992. She was followed by FAF, which shifted berths from Dry Dock No. 10 to Pier 2, across from the carrier, three days later.

During the overhaul, V-1 and V-3 divisions were combined until August 1993, when the hangar bay division was re-activated. All four catapults were overhauled, while improvements made to the flight deck included the fabrication and installation of all 194 flight deck safety nets, as well as the application of non-skid, covering 194,332 square feet of the flight deck, the latter between May–-September 1994.  Her crew performed an “overhaul and replacement” of the flight deck and hangar bay aircraft engine starting stations in four months, eight months less than the shipyard estimate, saving over $200,000. They also “rewired and overhauled” the flight deck lighting system on their own, saving over $70,000 when compared to the shipyard bid.

Enterprise sent some men to other ships for ongoing training in 1993, including 18 members of the air department to America, John F. Kennedy and George Washington, members of the communications department to George Washington, and sailors of the deck department to George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Merrimac (AO-179).

Following the collapse of the East Bloc and the corresponding lessoning of Cold War tensions, however, Congress issued a mandate for the Navy to “drawdown,” or reduce its force. In 1994, Enterprise offered “Early Out,” a fleet-wide program allowing service members to terminate their active duty commitment, nearly 20% of the crew taking advantage of the program, with approving authority given by the commanding officer.

New CIWS Block 1 “low-profile” gun mounts 23 and 24 were installed, and both MK 57 Mod 3 NATO Sea Sparrow systems were refurbished by Raytheon Co., Virginia Beach, Va. In 1993, Combat Systems Fire Control Division was re-activated as an Operations Division. The AN/SPN-46 ACLS Radar, “the new final approach radar,” was installed, and additional systems overhauled were the AN/SPS-64 Navigation, AN/SPS-67 Surface Search, AN/SPS-49 Air Search, AN/SPS-43 Marshalling and AN/SPS-48C 3D Radars. These were the principal radar systems with which she operated into the 21st Century. To better enable the OI division to prepare for returning Enterprise to her natural element, the open sea, sailors of that division combined with those of the navigation department for two small cruises with the Naval Academy’s self-propeller patrol craft (YPs), building shiphandling, radar and visual navigation skills. During one such trip in March 1993, the craft was navigated from Annapolis harbor down Chesapeake Bay to NB Norfolk, making daily trips from there out to sea.

One of the most important changes to Enterprise’s capabilities since commissioning was the installation of a Local Area Network (LAN), involving the running of “thousands of feet” of cable, both coaxial and fiber optic. A “very labor intensive project,” departments relocated from FAF to the ship, then moved from space to space within her.  In addition, SITE 501 CCTV cable was distributed throughout the ship, and the Navy Standard Teletype (NST) was installed in the main Communications Center. Installing the CCTV system included over 50,000 feet of cable and more than 1,000 television cable “drops,” as well as 450 new television sets, enhancing the ship’s ability to hold training. Also overhauled was the AN/UQC-1 Underwater Telephone System.

A valve barge was moored near Enterprise, playing “a vital role in the overhaul.” The crew made a “herculean effort” to complete her yard period, which ended on 27 September 1994. Enterprise then conducted sea trials, including a four-hour full power run, over the succeeding three days, before returning to Norfolk on 30 September. Following her trials, Enterprise conducted a shakedown cruise (12–-26 October), during which she recovered aircraft for the first time since her overhaul began. Some 116 pilots “CQ’d”, 57 from CVW-8 and 49 from CVW-1, completing 901 traps, 659 day and 242 night.

Enterprise held a Family and Friends Day Cruise on 5 November 1994, followed by independent steaming exercises for training, 8–22 November, cut short by heavy weather caused by Hurricane Gordon. A total of 69 pilots from CVW-17 CQ’d, completing 655 traps, 460 day and 195 night. Standing out for further carquals, 6–16 December, 57 pilots completed 55 day and 23 night arrested landings, together with 34 pilots from CVW-20 accomplishing 784 traps, 690 day and 94 night. During these four underway periods, she launched and recovered over 2,500 aircraft. Throughout 1994, Enterprise enabled 240 pilots to complete carquals with 2,340 arrested landings, 1,809 day and 531 night. The ship also concluded “numerous” ASW exercises with SH-60Fs from HS-15 and attack submarines Albany (SSN-753) and Baltimore (SSN-704). Distinguished visitors to the “Big E” during 1994 included CNO and several cast members of the Star Trek and Babylon Five television shows.

Enterprise commenced a PSA/SRA at Newport News on 23 January 1995. Among the installations accomplished were the AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed torpedo decoy and the AN/SLQ-32(V)4 EW suite, the AN/WLR-1H(V)5 being upgraded. The Quad Dama UHF satellite transceiver and SeaTel satellite television systems were some of the installations made to enhance the ship’s communications, together with a video teleconferencing system. The ship made a “Dead Stick” move to Norfolk, on 7 July. Returning to sea for sea trials and independent steaming exercises (ISE), Enterprise completed her first cyclic flight operations in almost five years, 14-–21 July.

Designated as Combined ASW Commander, the Enterprise CVBG completed no less than eight ASW exercises with fleet ballistic missile submarines James K. Polk (SSBN-645) and West Virginia (SSBN-736), attack submarines Albany, L. Mendel Rivers (SSN-686), Narwhal (SSN-671), Norfolk (SSN-714), Philadelphia (SSN-690) and Pittsburgh (SSN-720), cruiser Gettysburg (CG-64), destroyer Briscoe (DD-977), frigate Klakring (FFG-42), VS-30, HSs-3 and 15, and VPs-5, 16, 24 and 26. Additionally, Enterprise received a “last minute” request from CVW-1 to facilitate their carquals in time for the wing’s Med deployment on board America, standing out to enable the pilots to attain readiness for overseas operations, 25–27 August.

During Enterprise’s Family and Friends Day Cruise on 16 September 1995, an aerial demonstration was staged for her “thousands of guests.” Standing out for additional training, 8–15 September, the “Big E” enabled 166 FRS pilots to complete carrier qualifications on board. A fire power and weapons capability demonstration was conducted for a visit by NATO Defense Ministers, 4–9 October, after which Enterprise then visited Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., 9–12 October, clearing the harbor to conduct ISE off the Jacksonville and Virginia capes operating areas, from the 12th–14th. An “extensive” ammunition off-load was completed at sea utilizing CH-46s and experimental K-Max helicopters, 20–22 October.

Enterprise then accomplished a brief ASW training period (20-–22 November 1995). Later, a total of 52 aircraft from CVW-17 operated from her decks (30 November-–2 December), the “largest contingent” on board since she entered the shipyard in 1990, 115 pilots completing carquals. The ship also assumed duties as the SAR Coordination Center while at sea, as such assisting in a joint USCG and Navy night rescue of the crew of sailing vessel Knight Sound, foundering approximately 100 miles off of the North Carolina coast.

That fall, the Joint Maritime Command Information System (JMCIS), the “central” piece of Enterprise’s vital Command, Control, Communications, Computer and Intelligence (C4I) suite, was installed, while CVIC was “filled with computers” to support strike planning and photographic intelligence, while the Tactical Flag Command Center was upgraded, giving embarked staffs the ability to monitor and coordinate the entire battle group. Ready Room A was converted to the Joint Forces Air Command Center (JFACC), allowing Enterprise to coordinate the kind of air operations seen during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

During 1995, Enterprise recorded 6,879 fixed wing aircraft traps, 5,250 day and 1,629 night, together with 760 helo landings, 599 day and 161 night, facilitating over 600 pilot qualifications. In addition, there were 3,877 launches from the bow catapults, with Catapult No. 1 surpassing its 110,000th shot.

Conditioning hikes on the flight deck by the ship’s Marine detachment were a routine occurrence, but on 13 August, 14 and 16 September and 10 December 1995, the Leathernecks also performed fast rope exercises in Hangar Bay 1, and with HS-17 on the latter date. Fast-roping had become necessary to rapidly deploy the Marines in CSAR and similar disaster response situations–, and in a changing world, –to conduct Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) of vessels suspected of smuggling to terrorists, as well as of pirates and slavers. In February 1996, the ship’s Marines would perform the first of nine VBSS exercises with SEAL Team 8 this year, to fast combat stores ship Supply (AOE-6), additional ships in the later exercises including Bradley, Klakring, destroyer Mitscher (DDG-57) and oiler Kanawha (AO-196).

Enterprise also remained in the forefront of naval research by being used as a “platform to gather data on a state-of-the-art Infrared Optical Aircraft Tracking System,” for application in the future design of aircraft carriers.

During 1995, the at sea fire party spent two weeks in Alabama on board ex-Shadwell conducting practical damage control evaluations for Naval Research Labs and Naval Sea Systems Command (NavSea). Due to their “professionalism,” the team was the first of several teams from Fleet commands to be invited back. Enterprise hosted 21,029 visitors during 1995.

12 September 2005

Published: Wed Jul 08 07:54:06 EDT 2015