USS Enterprise Aircraft Carrier Inactivated + Navy Announces New Enterprise To Launch Next Decade

The US Navy’s aircraft carrier bearing the same name as Star Trek’s iconic starship has been officially inactivated. After over fifty years in service the nuclear carrier USS Enterprise was ‘inactivated’ at an event in Norfolk, VA. More details and video from the event. The US Navy has also announced that the next aircraft carrier will be named Enterprise. 


USS Enterprise Inactivated

The US Navy Ship USS Enterprise (CVN-65) is the eighth ship (not counting the Space Shuttle) to bear the name "Enterprise." It was christened in 1960 and was the first nuclear powered carrier. It has engaged in multiple combat operations, starting with the Vietnam War in 1965.

Here is footage of a news report on the inactivation event from WAVY.

The "Big E" is the first nuclear powered carrier to be taken out of service by the US Navy. While the ship has been ‘inactivated’ it has yet to be fully ‘decommissioned,’ but that should take place no later than March 15th of 2013. The ship needs to have all the nuclear fuel removed before it can be decommissioned. The remains of the ship will be scrapped by 2015.

Before the event Star Trek’s William Shatner announced he would be in attendance to see off the ship. However, on Saturday Bill was a no show. The original Kirk took to Twitter to say goodbye and explain his absence.

Here are some photos of the event (more at official flckr page)


Star Trek and the USS Enterprise

Gene Roddenberry chose the name Enterprise due to the tradition of the name and specifically because of the heroic service of this latest ship’s predecessor the CV-6 Enterprise, the Yorktown-class carrier which participated in World War II. Roddenberry had noted how he felt it was a heroic ship, especially at the Battle of Midway.

Notionally this same USS Enterprise appeared in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Chekov and Uhura snuck aboard the ship to collect particles from the ship’s nuclear reactor. While they referred to the ship as the Enterprise, the real ship was not available for filming and so the scenes were done onboard the USS Ranger.

USS Ranger standing in for USS Enterprise in "Star Trek IV"

Enterprise To Live On

While one Enterprise ends its days, another ship will soon take on the historic name. The Navy has announced that CVN-80, a Gerald R. Ford class nuclear carrier due for service in 2025, will be the ninth ship to bear the name USS Enterprise.

May history never forget the name Enterprise

The next USS Enterprise

Thanks to all the readers who sent in tips on this event

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

May history never forget the name Enterprise indeed. May it always be remembered as that “Heroic” vessel as Gene saw it.

Does bring a tear to me eye.

Ummm, no. The Enterprise is a Gerald Ford class, not Reagan. Reagan is the second Ford and Enterprise is the third.

Error in the story. CVN-80 is a Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier.

#2: Actually, the USS Ronald Regan (CVN-76) is a Nimitz-class carrier already in service.

CVN-78: USS Gerald R. Ford (2015)
CVN-79: USS John F. Kennedy (2020)
CVN-80: USS Enterprise (2025)

I feel like the new one should be CVN-65-A

The big ‘E’ also ‘starred’ in “The Hunt For Red October”; one of the better Cold War movies.

*correction: Eighth US Navy ship to bear the name.

There have been 19 British Navy ships called Enterprise (or Enterprize), along with numerous French & private vessels.

Never fear, navalphiles, the HMS Enterprise is still active in the Royal Navy.

Darn I was one off by one Carrier! I wrote a screenplay called “Virtual Disaster” for Star Trek Phase 2. It centered around the forefather to TNG’s Holodecks and Kirk and crew go through a simulation where they are on the USS Enterprise CVN 81.

There’s actually a very cool script cover done by the talented Jeff Hayes, you can check out here:

Inactivation? Why the new word that does not describe the event a well as the naval terms paid off, a reference to the crews being given their pay when their service on the ship was complete, or decommissioned, as she is no longer in the commission of the US goverment?

Inactivation remindes me of ridiculous word deplaning (insted of disembarling or unloading the aircraft) made up by people that want to sound clever

@11: “Inactivation” because a nuclear wessel needs to be freed of its reactors and their nuclear fuel –by cutting huge holes in the hull– before they can be disposed of by scrapping. Because of the holes, they’re not suitable for service as museum ships, nor even as practice targets for other naval vessels.

Yes, it is an undignified way for a proud vessel to go. But the nuclear angle leaves no other options.

(In other news, after months of whimsical handles accompanying my occasional tweaking of noses over the twirling rumor mill that is the new movie, I’ve finally picked an actual handle. For what that’s worth.)

@6 You know, if we are lucky and either CVN-80’s Prospective CO or XO are trekkers familiar with the notion, they might have some plackard that says that, in the ship’s Musuem room, off the Officer’s QD. THAT would be a humorous homage to BOTH Star Trek and CVN-65.

Great article! And I enjoyed the photographs.

I wrote,

“One of the world’s most powerful vessels, the Enterprise was a one-ship class and history’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. It typically hosted upwards of 75 aircraft and could cruise without the need for refueling for years. From the date of its commmissioning until its retirement, it held the title of the world’s longest warship, from bow to stern. It was exceeded in displacement only by the ten newer Nimitz-class carriers remaining in service.

The ship served the United States through 25 campaigns, including assignments in the South China Sea during the Vietnam War. In 1969, it suffered a devastating accident when a series of explosions on board severely damaged its deck, killing 28 crewmen and injuring hundreds more. The carrier was repaired several months later and continued its exemplary career.

Many fond memories were created during the ship’s illustrious career, and countless naval enthusiasts are saddened to see the retirement of the ship as well as its famous name. The next aircraft carrier in the Navy will be the USS Gerald R. Ford, followed by a planned USS John F. Kennedy. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has promised that the aircraft carrier after that will be named the USS Enterprise.”

Indeed, the next aircraft carrier is the first of the namesake class, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVN-79) is the second in the Ford-class and like the Ford, is under construction. The USS Enterprise (CVN-80) is planned but not yet under construction. The new Enterprise will replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Nimitz-class carrier.

Before the decision to name CVN-78 after President Ford, a veteran’s group had lobbied to name it the USS America. However, that honor went to a Navy amphibious assault carrier instead. (Wikipedia.)

My son is stationed at Norfolk. Hopefully he picked up that shirt I asked him to get….

@12 – This was still decommissioning cermony after which her reactors will be “inactivated”