As I noted this spring, the USS Enterprise is on its final voyage after a 50-year run, and will be inactivated later this year. There won’t be much left of it after they chop it up to remove the nuclear reactors, so it can’t be preserved as a floating museum, as are half a dozen older vessels.
But its island (the part that sticks up) can be preserved as a memorial to the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, maybe anchoring a park with the outlines of the ship’s flight deck. Its former captain had mentioned a couple of years ago that that might be an option. Here’s the island:
There’s a precedent for such a memorial. The Cold War Submarine Memorial in Charleston, S.C., incorporates the sail and rudder of the USS Lewis and Clark, a ballistic missile sub that was decommissioned in the 1990s. Here’s what it looks like (click to see a larger version):
An Enterprise park would have to be a lot bigger, of course, both because the island is so much bigger than the sub’s sail, and because the whole carrier is bigger than a sub. But where to put such a memorial? The stern plate of the WWII Enterprise is at a park in River Dale, N.J., near where the heroic ship was dismantled — that would argue for Seattle, where CVN-65 will be dismantled. But coastal cities already have aircraft carrier museums — New York, San Diego, Charleston, San Francisco Bay, Corpus Christi. And given that this would be a park, there’s no reason for it to be near the sea — placing it somewhere in the middle of the country might be appropriate. So how about, I don’t know, Riverside, Iowa?