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USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

The eighth USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was the world's first nuclear aircraft carrier, powered by eight A2W reactors. It was launched 24 September 1960 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company sponsored by Mrs. W. B. Franke, wife of the Secretary of the Navy, and commissioned 25 November 1961 with Captain V.P. de Poix in command.

After commissioning, Enterprise began a lengthy series of tests and training exercises, designed to determine the full capabilities of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Immediately her superlative characteristics and performance became obvious. She began flight operations on 17 January 1962, when an F8U Crusader[?] became the first airplane to land on board her giant flight deck. The same aircraft later became the first plane to be catapulted from Enterprise.

One month later, on 20 February 1962, the nuclear-powered carrier played a role in the space age when Enterprise acted as a tracking and measuring station for the epochal flight of Friendship 7[?], the "Project Mercury" space capsule in which Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn. Jr., USMC, made the United States' first orbital space flight.

In August of 1969, Enterprise, along with USS Long Beach CGN-9 and USS Bainbridge DLG(N)-25, embarked on an around the world cruise to demonstrate the ability of nuclear powered ships to operate free from the usual ties to shore bases.

   

Upon completion of this operation, the carrier entered the shipyard at Newport News, Virginia, to accomplish refueling. Upon completion, the ship was transferred to the Pacific Fleet to provide support to the growing war in Vietnam.

On 14 January 1969 an explosion aboard the ship while it was near Hawaii killed 25 of her crew.

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