The Corner

The Final Voyage of the Enterprise

Enterprise Departs on Final Deployment

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) — The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) departed Norfolk Naval Station March 11 on the ship’s 22nd and final deployment.

Enterprise is slated to deploy to the U.S. Navy’s 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation as part of an ongoing rotation of U.S. forces supporting maritime security operations in international waters around the globe. …

Enterprise is scheduled for deactivation and eventual decommissioning following its anticipated return later this year, marking the end of the carrier’s legendary 50-plus years of service.

What, you thought I meant something else?

Hopefully the Navy will come up with a better way to honor the world’s first nuclear aircraft carrier than its esteemed predecessor, the WWII Enterprise, CV-6, which was chopped up for scrap in New Jersey. (A new book traces the history of CV-6; here’s the author’s presentation at the Pritzker Military Library.) Not every carrier can or should be preserved, and they’re very expensive to maintain, which is why there are only six, I think, decommissioned carriers serving as museums. But apparently there’s a possibility its island, the part that sticks up above the flight deck, might be placed somewhere as a memorial, which would be a lot cheaper to maintain, and really cool. Anyway, it’d be better than self-destructing and crashing into the Genesis planet.

But after this year the U.S. Navy will no longer have an Enterprise, which is why there’s a petition to name the next planned carrier, CVN-80, the USS Enterprise. Sign it, because we’ve gotten into the habit of naming our greatest warships after politicians, and not even dead ones — one of the newest carriers is the USS George H. W. Bush. Look, I voted for the guy, and he was a whole lot better than the current occupant, but nothing named by the U.S. government — not a building, not a scholarship program, certainly not one of the greatest warships built by mankind — should be named after a living person. Except for posthumous Medal of Honor recipients, it seems to me you should be dead for 50 years, preferably 100, before your name is even eligible to be considered for a naval ship.

And while we’re naming ships after Jimmy Carter and John Murtha and Bob Hope, keep in mind there’s no USS Lexington or Yorktown or Saratoga or Midway or Khe Sanh or, if we want to name them after people, Benjamin Franklin or John Adams or Jefferson or Madison or Monroe or Jackson. There have been nearly 1,000 Marine and Navy combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan — any one of those is more appropriate as the name of a ship than the USS Gabrielle Giffords.


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