[Special Feature] World’s first nuclear aircraft carrier USS Enterprise retires. For the moment.

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was inactivated on Dec. 1 after 5 decades of service.

From her commissioning as the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier in November of 1961 to her final deployment ending November 2012, USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and her crew have played a major role in many of the world’s major conflicts amassing some impressive figures:

– The “Big E” was launched on Sept. 24, 1960. Since then has carried 100,000 sailors and pilots through all its life.

– It is made of 60,923 tons of steel, 1,507 tons of aluminium and 230 miles of pipe and tubes

– 2,400 miles of blueprints were drafted for her design, enough to go from Miami to Los Angeles.

– At 1,123 feet, it is the largest US Navy vessel, almost four football fields long.

– It has completed 25 deployments taking part to 10 major operations during wars and international crisis including the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

– Aircraft embarked have completed 400,000 arrested landings on its flight deck

– Most of the scenes at sea of the movie “Top Gun” were filmed aboard USS Enterprise.

While more than $100 million of USS Enterprise’s equipment will be reused and installed aboard current Nimitz and future Ford class aircraft carriers, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has announced that next Ford Class Carrier, CVN-80 will be named USS Enterprise, thus becoming the eighth ship to be given the name Enterprise.

The following gallery shows some of the most interesting and cool pictures taken by Remo Guidi during Big E’s last cruise in the Mediterranean Sea in 2012.

Image credit: Remo Guidi

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. It is noteworthy that Big E’s first operational cruise, that of 3-8-62 to 16-10-62 to the Mediterranean and North Atlantic, also marked two other important operational debuts: that of the F4H-1 (F-4B) Phantom, with VF-102 Diamondbacks, and of the A3J (A-5A) Vigilante of VAH-7 Peacemakers on board, so that the carrier could boast that she was carrying the world’s fastest naval fighter and fastest naval attack bomber together on her deck.

  2. The US Navy has stated a few times that CVN-65 will NOT be offered as a museum. The cite that this is due to the massive cuts (and then expensive repairs) they need to make from the flight deck to the reactor room to remove all eight(!) reactors onboard the Big E.

    In addition, the Big E is larger than any existing carrier museum and would have enormous operating costs, and it is a cost-prohibitive endeavor.

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