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Friday, June 8, 2012

The USS Enterprise, Past, Present, and Future

Space Shuttle Enterprise

I did not know until the other day that the first space shuttle Enterprise originally was going to be named the Constitution. A letter writing campaign by none other than Star Trek fans convinced president Gerald Ford to name the ship Enterprise.

Of course the shuttle Enterprise never flew in space but it paved the way for the other space worthy shuttles that followed. Now the Enterprise shuttle has been permanently retired.

USS Enterprise CVN-65
USS Enterprise CV-6
Many of you may not realize that the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65), commissioned in 1961 is scheduled to be decommissioned on December 1, 2012, after 51 years of service. She has served with distinction from the Vietnam war all the way to recent service in the Persian Gulf. She succeeded the World War 2 Enterprise (CV-6) which accompanied the Hornet on Doolittle's Raid, was instrumental in the crucial victory at the Battle of Midway, and was at the heart of many, many other battles in the Pacific before the defeat of Japan in 1945. Sadly, CV-6 was thrown aside on the scrap heap.

The post decommissioning fate of the current Enterprise remains in question. There is a movement to make her a museum ship but decommissioning and dismantling of her nuclear reactors will likely prohibit this. It is my understanding that the ship's island may also be removed and made into a memorial. Additionally a petition has also been set up for the next carrier CVN-80 to be named Enterprise, but we have no assurance this will come to pass.

Call me sentimental and nostalgic but there's something about these ships that make them more than just ships. After reading accounts of the officers and crew that have served aboard them they seem to become unique and take on a personality. When the time comes for their service to end, somehow just relegating their remains to the scrap heap just doesn't seem quite right. It's almost like losing a friend and a whole lot of history.

None of us knows what the future may hold, but as for me I hope there will always be an Enterprise.
USS Enterprise NCC 1701A

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