Resources for Patients and their Families

USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

The USS Enterprise (CVN-65) is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier serving in the US Navy. The eighth US Naval vessel to bear the name, she is the lead and only ship of her class. She was commissioned on 25 November 1961 under the command of Captain Vincent P. De Poix. Currently home ported in Norfolk, Virginia, she is scheduled to stand down in 2013.


The keel of the Enterprise was laid at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company near Norfolk, Virginia on 4 February 1958. The completed vessel was launched in September 1960.

1,123 feet long and displacing approximately 94,000 "long" tons, the Enterprise is the largest warship afloat as well as the oldest vessel still in active service with the US Navy. Her power plant, consisting of eight A2W nuclear reactors and four geared steam turbines, were manufactured by Westinghouse. Enterprise carries a maximum crew compliment of 5,828 officers, seamen, pilots and aviation support personnel.

Repairs and Upgrades

Unless otherwise noted, all repairs and maintenance were carried out at the Newport News Shipbuilding facility.

After her initial shakedown trials, Enterprise did not return to the yard where she was built until October 1964, where she underwent an overhaul and refueling. Her next yard period was in 1969 and 1970, when she went through a second overhaul and was refitted with upgraded nuclear reactor cores, enabling her to cruise for ten years without refueling.

Following the end of US combat operations in Vietnam in 1973, Enterprise was ordered to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. Here, she underwent modifications that enable her to accommodate the new F-14 Tomcat fighter plane. In addition, a damaged propulsion shaft was replaced.

Enterprise returned to Bremerton in 1978. During this overhaul, her superstructure was modified and obsolete radar equipment was removed and replaced. This overhaul took four years.

In March 1990, Enterprise returned to the Newport News Yard for an extensive refit that lengthened her flight deck by 122 feet. Her next service period was a "restricted availability" between February and June of 1997. Later in that decade, her battle group became the first to be deployed with Internet access.

Enterprise spent the entirety of 2002 at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard dry dock for availability. In April 2008, the carrier underwent her most recent maintenance period at the Northrop-Grumman Shipyard in Newport News Virginia. The work was scheduled to be completed in September 2009, but due to delays and cost overruns, Enterprise did not return to service until April 2010.

Wartime Service

By the time she is decommissioned in 2013, the Enterprise will have served the US Navy for over half a century – the longest service of any US aircraft carrier.

Her early years were spent in testing and routine missions in the Caribbean, the Atlantic and regular deployments to the Mediterranean. In October 1962, Enterprise was part of the naval blockade preventing the delivery of military equipment to Cuba by the Soviets. She was transferred to the Pacific Fleet in 1965, making a total of six combat deployments to Vietnam over the next ten years. During her eight and ninth deployments to the Far East, Enterprise wound up patrolling the waters off East Africa when Ugandan president Idi Amin took a number of US citizens hostage.

The early 1980s saw a number of Far East deployments; starting in 1988, Enterprise began "showing the flag" in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf region. In the 1990s, the carrier supported operations off Bosnia and the Middle East, and has played roles in recent events in the latter region.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

While asbestos materials were used extensively throughout vessel construction from the 1930s until the early 1980s, the hazard of exposure could be exacerbated by training accidents and battle damage, which were frequent aboard naval vessels.

While off the coast of South Korea in January of 1969, an aircraft exploded on the flight deck, causing damage to the armor plating and requiring eight weeks of repairs at Pearl Harbor. In April 1983, the Enterprise struck a sandbar in San Francisco Bay and remained aground for several hours. Eighteen months later, she hit a rock on the Cortes Bank off the southern coast of California, damaging the hull and one of her screws. In November 1998, a plane attempting a nighttime landing, struck a second aircraft parked on the flight deck, causing a fire.

Even though all branches of the military deployed asbestos in various facilities and environments, asbestos exposure was much more pervasive aboard ship, and thus there are significantly more navy mesothelioma victims than in the other services. Navy ships like Enterprise deployed asbestos-containing materials extensively in engines and engineering rooms, and to insulate compartments all over the vessel. When asbestos gets into the body, the fibers lodge in the mesothelial layer, a thin layer of cells that surrounds and buffers the interior organs, and eventually this foreign material leads to mesothelioma cancer.

Currently medical science has not found a mesothelioma cure; however, skilled cancer specialists such as Dr. David Sugarbaker are constantly working on viable treatment methods. To assist mesothelioma patients in finding available treatment options, we have compiled a free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide with comprehensive data about clinics, treatments, and drug trials. All you have to do is fill out the form on this page and we'll get the information to you at no charge.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Friedman, Norman. US Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1983)

N/A. "USS ENTERPRISE CVN 65." US Carriers ( Updated 10 December 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010.