Welcome to another new segment. I might add a third one in the "of the Week" series. Hell, I could add more than one. I don't know, writing these gives me something to do at work. This is the "Ship of the Week", where I will discuss ships of both military and civilian variety that have been important, or are also just awesome. The first entry is both. Ladies and gentlemen:
The USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
The Enterprise-class USS Enterprise is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Commissioned on the 25th of November, 1961, Enterprise is also the oldest ship in the United States Navy, surpassing the Kitty Hawk when that conventionally-powered carrier retired. She displaces a whopping 93,000 tons, making her the eleventh-largest ship in the world (after the ten Nimitz-class ships).
Let's talk about the awesome of Enterprise. Sure, she's the first nuclear-powered carrier. But what does that mean? Well, nobody was sure exactly how powerful a nuclear-powered carrier would be, so what the US Navy did was take the plans for a conventional carrier, make it bigger, pull out the usual turbine engines and replace them with nuclear reactors. All eight of them. That's right, Enterprise has EIGHT fucking NUCLEAR REACTORS in her guts. To give you an idea how unnecessary that is, the Nimitz-class ships only have two nuclear reactors.
No wonder they call her the Mobile Chernobyl.
The Enterprise's namesake was CV-6, the Yorktown-class carrier also named Enterprise that was one of the most storied ships in the history of the United States Navy. CV-6 participated in the Pacific War from Pearl Harbor to Okinawa, and had 20 battle stars for combat service. Like CV-6, CVN-65 has been in every fight the USA has been in - from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Iraq War. CV-6's nickname has also been passed on to her descendant: The Big E.
The Big E=MC^2!
Enterprise has deployed many types of airplanes over the past few years, but for most of her career has deployed the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The Tomcat was recently retired (Negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full), and Enterprise now deploys F/A-18s as her major fighter type. She will be re-deployed by the end of 2009 for her last five year mission.
Enterprise's services with the United States Navy is scheduled to end upon the introduction of the Gerald R. Ford to the fleet circa 2015, though some Navy personnel feel she should be retired earlier. Regardless, Enterprise's history suggests her to be the most important warship of the post World War II era. No other vessel has seen the history she has, delivered as many combat sorteés, embarked as many personnel, or gone nearly as far. Enterprise tracked John Glenn and she struck Baghdad; she fought the North Vietnamese and struck Libya; after September 11th, Enterprise was on the way home, but booked it back to the Middle East without orders, going so fast the 40 year old girl left all her modern escorts behind. She's got it, that certain majesty that any great ship has. When she is retired in 2015, it will be a great loss to the USN, and to the world. I hope she is made into a museum ship, so that her grandeur is not lost to the ages.
While I'm at it...
What the fuck is up with the names of US carriers recently? Let's look at these names.
Historically, the USN gave their carriers awesome names. The carriers that started World War II, for instance, were named Lexington, Saratoga, Yorktown, Enterprise, Ranger, Wasp, and Hornet. During World War II, they came out with the Essex, the Bunker Hill, the Intrepid, the Antietam. After WWII, they had the Midway, the Coral Sea, the Independence, the Kitty Hawk, the Constellation. Even the nuclear carriers had great names: Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln.
But now they have just taken a bloody turn for the worse. The USS Gerald R. fucking Ford?! Really? Sure, Jerry Ford was a Navy man, but he was not, absolutely was not, a good president. Save for the George H.W. Bush and (I would argue) the Ronald Reagan, all carriers named for a president were named for a damn good one - FDR, TR, Abe, George, JFK, Ike, Truman. Does Jerry Ford belong in that list? FUCK no.
USN, I implore you, bring back the good names. Hornet, Wasp, Saratoga, Ranger, Independence. Names that tell the world "The United States fucking Navy is here, and if you piss us off, we're going to send the goddamn Intrepid to bootfuck you. Bitch." The opportunity is there. Stop picking these presidential partisan names. How long till the GOP chooses the Ulysses S Grant, or the Democrats choose James Buchanan? Seriously, Gerald Ford? Blow me.
I want another Enterprise.