Launched in 1960 and commissioned in 1961, the USS Enterprise is the longest aircraft carrier in the world. Her length is over 1100 feet, and she has a crew of 3000. The “Big E” powers four huge propellers with eight nuclear reactors. This behemoth carrier reaches 33 knots at maximum speed. The USS Enterprise is the only carrier in its class, and she is the only nuclear powdered ship with more than two nuclear reactors aboard. This classic ship is the oldest active naval vessel and is due to be decommissioned in 2013 due to repair costs.
Action in The Cold War
Early in her deployment, the Enterprise toured in the Mediterranean and played a part in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1964. After refueling and an overhaul, which made it a nuclear-powered ship, in late ’64 and early ’65, the USS Enterprise was deployed in the Western Pacific and Vietnam area. She remained in the same zone until 1975. While there, the Enterprise became the first nuclear-powered warship in combat, serving in December of ’65. December of 1971 found the Enterprise entering the Bay of Bengal as part of the front against the Indian Naval Blockade in the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1971. In April of 1975, the USS Enterprise was a part of Operation Frequent Wind. She helped in the evacuation of contingencies in Vietnam. She also helped in disaster relief efforts on Mauritius Island after Typhoon Gervaise hit in ’75.
The Enterprise was deployed on her eighth deployment to the Western Pacific in July of 1976. In ’78, her zone grew, and she again entered the waters of the Indian Ocean. The USS Enterprise toured in this same zone until December of ’84. During a 1985 exercise, the ship struck a rock on the Cortes Bank, damaging the outer hull and propeller. In 1986, the USS Enterprise was redeployed to the Western Pacific-Indian Ocean area, but this time, her zone included the Persian Gulf. She ventured into the Mediterranean Sea in ’88, where she took part in the bombing of Libya.
After the War
In 2001, she commenced naval exercises with the British Royal Navy in the North Sea. The USS Enterprise then toured the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean until 2004. She took part in many operations during that time, including Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2007, she was redeployed to the Western Pacific and played an integral part in Operation Enduring Freedom. In April of 2008, she was docked for repairs. As the costs for her repairs grew, the USS Enterprise was scheduled for decommissioning in 2013.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, aircraft carriers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.