USS Enterprise sailing off to history’s scrap heap
USS Enterprise file photo
November 1st, 2012
06:00 AM ET

USS Enterprise sailing off to history’s scrap heap

By Larry Shaughnessy

The USS Enterprise is the nation's oldest active duty warship, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and a history-making symbol of America's naval might for half a century.

But it's now headed for the scrap heap.

Virtually all the weapons and ammunition has been off loaded. By the end of the week, it'll make its final return to its home port of Norfolk, Virginia. On Dec. 1, "The Big E" will be become officially inactive.

But one doesn't just take an aircraft carrier with eight nuclear reactors in its hold and park it somewhere. The Navy will spend three years and tens of millions of dollars removing the ship's radioactive fuel and reactors before cutting it into scrap.

Also: On the front lines of history: USS Enterprise on its last deployment

Mike Maus, a spokesperson for Naval Air Force Atlantic, said the process starts just up the James River.

"Following the inactivation period, it will be towed over to Newport News - to Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding - where it will be defueled. They'll remove all the fuel from it."

The fuel will be shipped to Idaho for temporary storage, Maus said. "Sometime at a later date, it will be disposed of."

While in Newport News, some of the Enterprise's equipment will be removed then the next phase begins.

Watch: Sen. John McCain talks about serving on the Enterprise during the Cuban Missile Crisis

The carrier, minus planes, ammunition and a propulsion system, heads to Puget Sound, the long way.

"It will be towed around (Cape) Horn to Puget Sound, Washington," Maus said.

The Enterprise, like America's other nuclear carriers, is too big to fit through the Panama Canal, so it must round the southern-most point of South America to get to Washington State.

"It'll be a very lengthy tow," he said.

Once it reaches the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the long and difficult task of removing the eight reactors from the Enterprise's hold begins.

"In order to remove the reactors, it takes a lot of cutting and hacking on the ship to do that," Maus said. "They do cut through the flight deck and they may very well be cutting through the hull of the ship itself."

Once the reactors are removed, CVN-65 will be formally decommissioned.

According to a Navy Environmental Impact Statement, the reactors will be put on barges, floated up the Columbia River to the site of the former Hanford nuclear production complex where they will be buried in a huge trench near reactors from smaller decommissioned naval warships.

Hanford nuclear site trench (US Navy Photo)

But unlike the USS Intrepid in New York City or the USS Midway in San Diego, the Enterprise is not destined to become a floating museum.

Removing the reactors essentially destroys the ship.

"Once the reactors are removed, to put the ship back in any shape to where it still resembles a ship the cost would be over the moon," said Maus.

So the ship, all 90,000 tons of it will be cut up and the metal sold for scrap.

But that doesn't mean the name Enterprise will fade from U.S. Navy history. There have been seven other warships to bear that name and there is already a petition to name a yet-to-be-built carrier the ninth USS Enterprise.

Post by:
Filed under: Navy • USS Enterprise
soundoff (747 Responses)
  1. Van Alignment Shop

    June 30, 2021 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  2. RV Repair

    I blog often and I really thank you for your content. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

    June 30, 2021 at 11:21 am | Reply
  3. RV Repair Seal Beach

    I could not refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    June 30, 2021 at 10:29 am | Reply
  4. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    June 30, 2021 at 7:07 am | Reply
  5. RV Repair Orange County

    I really like it whenever people come together and share opinions. Great website, stick with it!

    June 30, 2021 at 5:40 am | Reply
  6. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    June 30, 2021 at 4:46 am | Reply
  7. RV Repairs Nearby

    June 30, 2021 at 4:42 am | Reply
  8. Coachmen Van Repair Shop Near Me

    Everyone loves it when folks come together and share thoughts. Great blog, stick with it!

    June 30, 2021 at 1:41 am | Reply
  9. RV Repairs Nearby

    Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, however I really believed you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

    June 29, 2021 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  10. RV Repair Nearby

    I'm pretty pleased to discover this site. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and i also have you book-marked to look at new information in your site.

    June 29, 2021 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  11. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me

    I absolutely love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím attempting to create my very own blog and want to find out where you got this from or what the theme is called. Thank you!

    June 29, 2021 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  12. Dodge Sprinter Vacuum Pump Repair

    June 29, 2021 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  13. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Saved as a favorite, I like your blog!

    June 29, 2021 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  14. RV Repair California

    June 29, 2021 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  15. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?

    June 29, 2021 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  16. Nearby RV Repair

    Your style is very unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this page.

    June 29, 2021 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  17. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    June 29, 2021 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  18. RV Repair Orange County

    June 29, 2021 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  19. Camper Repair Shop Near Me

    June 29, 2021 at 9:58 am | Reply
  20. Sprinter Van Conversion Shop

    June 29, 2021 at 9:33 am | Reply
  21. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    June 29, 2021 at 7:52 am | Reply
  22. RV Repair Santa Ana

    June 29, 2021 at 4:56 am | Reply
  23. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    I blog quite often and I really thank you for your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

    June 29, 2021 at 3:34 am | Reply
  24. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    June 29, 2021 at 2:48 am | Reply
  25. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    Can I just say what a relief to discover a person that truly understands what they are discussing online. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular given that you surely possess the gift.

    June 29, 2021 at 2:45 am | Reply
  26. Cargo Van Conversion Shop Near Me

    June 29, 2021 at 12:13 am | Reply
  27. RV Repair San Clemente California

    June 28, 2021 at 10:41 pm | Reply
  28. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    June 28, 2021 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  29. Dodge Sprinter 3500 2006 Window Repair

    I used to be able to find good info from your content.

    June 28, 2021 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  30. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    June 28, 2021 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  31. RV Repair Shop

    I really like reading through an article that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

    June 28, 2021 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  32. Mercedes Sprinter Body Repair

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

    June 28, 2021 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  33. RV Repair Orange County California

    June 28, 2021 at 11:11 am | Reply
  34. Authorized Dodge Sprinter Repair

    Right here is the right webpage for anybody who wishes to understand this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a topic which has been discussed for many years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

    June 28, 2021 at 10:23 am | Reply
  35. RV Repair Near Me

    June 28, 2021 at 10:13 am | Reply
  36. Sprinter Van Wrap Shop

    Right here is the right site for anyone who really wants to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want toÖHaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject which has been written about for a long time. Excellent stuff, just great!

    June 28, 2021 at 6:32 am | Reply
  37. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    June 28, 2021 at 2:41 am | Reply
  38. Sprinter Rv Repair Near Here

    I blog often and I truly appreciate your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I will book mark your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too.

    June 28, 2021 at 2:24 am | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.