USS Enterprise CVA(N)-65 - History: 1961-1965

The eighth Enterprise (CVA(N)-65), the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was laid down on 4 February 1958 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co.; launched on 24 September 1960; sponsored by Mrs. William B. Franke, wife of the Secretary of the Navy; and commissioned on 25 November 1961, Captain Vincent P. de Poix in command.

After commissioning, Enterprise began a lengthy series of tests and training exercises, designed to determine her full capabilities. Beginning six days of builder’s and Navy pre-acceptance trials on 29 October 1961, she exceeded expectations, her reactors generating such horsepower that she “literally out-ran her destroyer escort.”

Lieutenant Commander Oscar Folsom, Jr., Fleet Tactical Support Squadron (VRC)-40, became the first to fly from the ship’s flight deck, transporting dignitaries, who had embarked to witness the sea trials, to shore in a Grumman C-1A Trader. Enterprise returned to port with a huge broom tied to her masthead, the traditional symbol of victory at sea, proclaiming a “clean sweep.”

Enterprise went to sea for the first time as a commissioned ship for her shakedown cruise, on 12 January 1962, on that date also being announced as the flagship of Nuclear Task Force (TF) One. During this period she began fleet flight operations, when Commander George C. Talley, Jr., Commander Air Group (CAG), Carrier Air Group (CVG)-1 (Tail Code AB), made an arrested landing and catapult launch in an Ling Temco Vought F-8B Crusader (BuNo 145375) from Fighter Squadron (VF) 62 on 17 January.

After completing carrier qualifications (carquals), Enterprise was privileged to play a role in the space age, putting to sea for ten days as part of the Project Mercury Recovery Force off Bermuda. Three carriers, including The Big E, patrolled the most likely areas for reentry and impact of the capsule, but unforeseen delays postponed that second attempt to send a man into space and the ship returned to Norfolk.

The following weeks proved busy ones. On 5 February Enterprise sailed for the Caribbean and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for her shakedown with elements of CVG-1, including VF-62 (F-8Bs) and VF-102 (F-4Bs), Attack Squadron (VA)-15 (Douglas A-1H Skyraiders), VA-64 and VA-172 (McDonnell Douglas A-4C Skyhawks), Light Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (VFP)-62 Detachment (Det) 60 (RF-8A Crusaders) and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW)-12 Det 60 (Grumman E-1B Tracers) embarked.

In addition, en route to the Caribbean she paused at Mayport, Florida, to embark Heavy Attack Squadron (VAH)-7 (North American A-5A Vigilantes). On 15 February the ship logged her 1,000th arrested landing, by Lieutenant John S. Brickner and his radar intercept officer (RIO), in an F-4B from VF-102, a tremendous amount of flying in a relatively short period of time.

At 0947 on 20 February 1962, Mercury-Atlas 6 launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., with astronaut Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., USMC, pilot. Completing three turns about the earth in four hours 55 minutes, Glenn became the first American to orbit the planet, flying spacecraft Friendship 7 in her 75,679-mile orbit at a maximum speed of 17,544.1 miles per hour. Glenn splashed down in the Atlantic some 166 miles east of Grand Turk Island, Bahamas, about 800 miles southeast of Bermuda. Destroyer Noa (DD-841) recovered him after 21 minutes in the water; a helo subsequently transported him to carrier Randolph (CVS-15) at 1745.

Enterprise stood out of Guantánamo Bay in readiness to deploy as one of the potential tracking and measuring stations for the epochal flight. Underway from anchorage Bravo that morning at 0640, the ship went alongside ammunition ship Mauna Loa (AE-8) for rearming. Enterprise then conducted Carrier qualifications before returning to her anchorage during the first dog watch.

Between 1-6 April Enterprise completed both her shakedown training and her Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI), en route to and off Guantánamo Bay. She received an ORI score of Excellent, 90.3%, from the Fleet Training Group, Guantánamo, one of the highest scores awarded to date to a new carrier. Before departing Cuban waters,Enterprise’s aircraft rounded-off the cruise with an air power demonstration for a congressional delegation.

Upon completion of those requirements, she returned to Norfolk, entering port on the 8th, and conducted combined operations with Forrestal (CVA-59) for a Presidential Cruise from 9–14 April, President John F. Kennedy and his entourage arriving on board on the 14th. The busy day included sea and air power demonstrations for the Chief Executive and many distinguished guests, including most of his cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), many congressmen and about 30 foreign ambassadors, all hosted by Vice Admiral John M. Taylor, Commander, 2nd Fleet (Com2ndFlt).

Approximately 20 ships participated in the exercise off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts, guests being entertained by a “spectacular display” culminating in a mass fly-by and recovery. Commander Joseph P. Moorer, squadron commanding officer (CO), Lieutenant Commander Joseph S. Elmer, Lieutenant Richard C. Oliver and Lieutenant William F. Heiss, VF-62, had the honor of shaking hands with the President on board Enterprise, at the conclusion of the demonstration.

Enterprise completed her final acceptance trials off the Virginia Capes between 16 and 18 April, and then entered her builders' yard on the 23rd for post-shakedown availability.

Departing the yard on 19 June 1962, the “Big E” joined the 2nd Fleet, immediately beginning fleet operations. The next senior operational commands she reported to during much of the year included: AirLant, 1–8 April, and then again, 15 April–24 June; Commander Carrier Division Four (ComCarDiv-4), 9–14 April, Com2ndFlt and again, 29–30 September, 6th Fleet (Com6thFlt); and Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla (ComCruDesFlot)-10, 25 June–16 August, Com2ndFlt and again, 17 August–28 September, Com6thFlt.

CVG-6 came on board on 22 June for a short cruise off the Atlantic coast. Because of the great number of squadrons and aircraft assigned to the group, the officers and men of CVG-6 touted it as “the largest Air Group in the Navy.” During this cruise, Enterprise anchored out at President Roads, Boston, Mass., over Independence Day weekend, 2–5 July, her crew taking part in the celebrations ashore, as well as hosting upward of 12,000 visitors.

Leaving Boston, the ship participated with Forrestal (CVA-59) in LantFlex 2-62, a nuclear strike exercise, under the command of Rear Admiral Reynold D. Hogle, (ComCarDiv-4), Commander, TF 24, 6–12 July. Enterprise launched eight “pre-planned” strikes and six call strikes while operating off the Virginia capes, against targets ranging from the Tidewater area to central Florida.

Returning to Norfolk on the 12th, Enterprise remained for leave and upkeep until 3 August, when she sailed for the Mediterranean (Med) with CVG-6 –- VA-65 (A-1Hs), VA-66 and VA-76 (A-4Cs), VF-33 (F-8Es) and VF-102 (F-4Bs), VAH-7 (A-5As), VFP-62 Det 65 (RF-8As) and VAW-12 Det 65 (E-1Bs).

Passing the “Rock” of Gibraltar on 16 August, Enterprise entered the 6th Fleet’s Area of Responsibility (AOR), the first nuclear-powered carrier to steam in the Med, her intention to relieve carrier Shangri La (CVA-38).

The ship participated in a number of exercises in the Atlantic and Med. RipTide III, (3–5 August), involved long-range simulated nuclear strikes against targets off the Portuguese and Spanish coasts. Enterprise launched 14 strikes and nine call strikes, all opposed, as well as conducting cross-deck and cross-replenishment operations with other commands, and with the British and French. Lafayette II, 7 September, involved 14 scheduled conventional strikes coordinated with aircraft from Forrestal against multiple targets to the French Low Level Route in southern France, with opposition provided by French air force and naval aircraft. Indian Summer (7–8 September), comprised three long-range, simulated nuclear strikes, with fighter escort by F-4Bs from VF-102, against Spanish targets defended by both USAF and Spanish commands assigned to NATO. FallEx/High Heels II (6–20 September) revolved around the exercise of NATO and national communications and alert procedures. Some 13,000 service members and 24 ships operated with British, Greek and Turkish forces, “to develop coordination,” conducting amphibious landings, with close air support (CAS), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-air warfare (AAW) tactics.

Fall Trap (23–27 September), involved both providing combat air patrol (CAP) for, and flying 22 aggressor raids against, a NATO amphibious task force moving north in the Aegean Sea. This was followed by CAS of the landings themselves, on 25 September, and additional support missions on the 26th–-27th, in both Greek and Turkish Thrace.

In addition, her crew was able to go ashore in Cannes, France (27 August–-4 September), when Enterprise anchored out, the ship’s first foreign port-of-call. Visiting by invitation was held on three of the eight days and some 1,200 people took advantage of the opportunity to tour the ship, among whom were celebrities Bing Crosby and his wife, Kathryn Grant, vacationing at their villa on the French Riviera.

Enterprise stood out on 4 September, beginning six days of air operations, following which she sailed for Naples, Italy, arriving at 0800 on the 10th to begin an eight day visit. The ship’s embarked aircraft were able to accomplish further training in the way of impact bombing on various targets, both live and practice bombs and radar scored bombing. Again the ship held visitation by invitation and “over 1,200 Neopolitans saw the ship at first hand.”

On the afternoon of the 14th, Italian President Antonio Segni inspected Enterprise, and that evening Rear Admiral Weeks and the skipper hosted a formal reception on board for approximately 400 NATO officers, Italian dignitaries and their guests.

Turning over her duties on station at Soudha Bay, Crete, to TG 60.8, formed around carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt(CVA-42), on 28 September, she proceeded westward shortly thereafter. Transiting the Strait of Gibraltar on the 3rd, the carrier crossed the Atlantic while assigned to TG 21.8, returning to Norfolk at 1540 on 11 October. The following day Rear Admiral John T. Hayward, ComCarDiv-2, broke his flag in Enterprise.

Between May–October 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev began secretly deploying additional East Bloc forces, estimated as “several thousand” Soviet, Czech, Polish and Chinese, to Cuba, intending to address what he considered the strategic imbalance between the U.S. led-Western Alliance and the Russian-dominated East Bloc. While those deployments took time, once those forces, including SS-4 Sandal medium- and SS-5 Skean intermediate-range ballistic missiles and at least 42 Ilyushin Il-28 Beagle light bombers in Cuba or en route, 20 of which were already in various stages of assembly, became operational they would threaten much of the southern continental U.S. with either conventional, or, more ominously, nuclear bombardment.

However, U.S. intelligence originally learned of the operation through the efforts of naval and air crews, who identified and tracked ships smuggling arms into Cuba, and when photo interpreters discovered missile sites west of Havana, near the towns of San Cristobal and Guanajay. Subsequent reconnaissance flights by Lockheed U-2s, operated by both the CIA and the Air Force, revealed additional sites, as well as “sophisticated” aircraft revetments and surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites, on Cuba’s northern coast, near Sagua La Grande and Remedios. On 25 October, a reconnaissance mission by VFP-62 also confirmed the presence of Luna (FROG, or Free Rocket Over Ground) tactical rockets, which, though shorter-ranged, could also be armed with nuclear warheads.

Discovery of the Soviet deception precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy and his advisors considering such a threat to U.S. national security unacceptable. When the Chief Executive told Admiral Anderson that “it looks as though this is up to the Navy,” the CNO purportedly replied: “Mr. President, the Navy will not let you down.” In noting the build-up of East Bloc forces, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet (CinCLantFlt) ordered training to include “the possibility of action against Cuban targets.” These training efforts even included the construction of a simulated V-75 SA-2 Guideline SAM site.

Admiral Anderson sent a personal message to the Fleet Commanders on the 17th, advising them to “be prepared to order as many ships as possible to sea on a 24 hour notice,” provided their main propulsion plants were ready.

Responding to the crisis, Enterprise, with CVG-6 embarked, sortied from Norfolk on 19 October, having loaded provisions and supplies that normally required up to 10 hours to load, in barely two. Placed on alert on 18 October, CVG-6 embarked the following day, containing primarily the same composition it had during its recent Med cruise. The urgency proved such that the carrier got underway with only part of the wing embarked, some aircraft flying on board as she “turned the corner” off Cape Henry.

AirLant announced that the carrier’s rapid departure was to conduct engineering exercises, and to escape possible damage due to Hurricane Ella, then being tracked off the southeastern coast of the U.S. The cover story, however, seemed less than convincing, as evidenced by one reporter’s incredulous question: “Engineering exercises! A week after she gets back from the Med? And Ella turned east at noon today. You really want me to believe that?” Security concerns prompted the cordial response: “Absolutely.”

Destroyers Fiske (DD), Hawkins (DD) and William R. Rush (DD) sailed the next day to rendezvous with the “Big E” as her initial screen.

The following day, TF 135 (Rear Admiral Robert J. Stroh, ComCarDiv-6, relieved by Rear Admiral Hayward on 24 October), was activated, comprising the Enterprise and Independence (CVA-62) task groups, an underway replenishment group of an oiler and an ammunition ship, Fleet Air Wing (FAW)-11, stationed ashore, and Marine Aircraft Group (MAG)-32, comprising Marine Attack Squadrons (VMA)-331 and VMF-333, the group deploying to Guantánamo Bay and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. Independence (CVG-7) was originally scheduled to be relieved by Enterprise, but the crisis forced her to remain on station. Her screen initially included destroyers Corry (DD),English (DD), Hank (DD) and O’Hare (DD).

Also on the 20th, Admiral Robert L. Dennison, CinCLantFlt, ordered the A-5A Vigilantes of VAH-7 to remain ashore at NAS Sanford, Fla., replacing them with 20 USMC A-4D Skyhawks from VMA-225 from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, N.C., the Skyhawks being considered more appropriate for CAS due to their lighter characteristics. This was the first time that a Marine squadron operated from a nuclear-powered carrier, and completing the transfer while underway in the midst of a crisis demonstrated the flexibility for combat commanders afforded by the ship. During the height of the crisis, upward of 100 aircraft would be packed on board Enterprise. Contingency planning for possible action against Soviet forces in Cuba took place on board the carrier during her voyage southward, including most of the planning for carrier-borne aerial operations.

Faced with the problem of halting further East Bloc arms shipments into Cuba, on 20 October the President ordered a blockade of the island, directing the Navy to stop and search any ship suspected of smuggling offensive weapons into Cuba. CinCLantFlt issued Operation Order 43-62, commencing naval operations in support ofOperation Plan 312. By mid-afternoon on Sunday 21 October, Enterprise was approximately 25 miles southeast of San Salvador, Bahama Islands, making all speed to the south to reach her assigned operating areas near Cuba, her escorting destroyers striving to keep up.

While other U.S. vessels, designated TF 136 (Vice Admiral Alfred G. “Corky” Ward, Com2ndFlt) on the evening of the 21st, established patrol positions in a line out of range of Soviet Il-28s to the east of Cuba, TF 135 prepared to operate in the waters around Jamaica, to the south of Cuba, completing the encirclement of the island.

The Enterprise group was initially directed to steam near 25ºN, 75ºW, while the Independence group sailed near 23º10’N, 72º24’W. Both forces were later reinforced by combined Latin American-U.S. TF 137 (Rear Admiral John A. Tyree, Jr.), which patrolled the eastern Caribbean for communist smugglers, aircraft from Enterprise later providing some air support. On Monday morning, the 22nd, Enterprise rendezvoused with Independence north of the Bahamas.

En route toward Cuba, the task force passed four ships carrying 2,432 dependents evacuated from Guantánamo, including 1,703 on board Upshur (T-AP-198), 351 in Duxbury Bay (AVP-38), 286 in Hyades (AF-28) and 92 in DeSoto County (LST-1171). Five Lockheed C-130F Hercules and a Douglas EC-47 Skytrains flew out an additional 378 evacuees, comprising hospital patients, dependents at Leeward and “certain other noncombatants.”

Events moved toward confrontation. Additional evidence indicating the progress being made by the Soviets in Cuba toward making their strike forces operational, together with further intelligence concerning the transfer of arms via communist ships en route to the island, prompted the JCS to set Defense Condition 3 for all U.S. forces worldwide, at 1900 EDT on 22 October. The order was issued one hour prior to the President’s televised speech, affecting all U.S. forces with the exception of CinCEur (Commander-in-Chief Europe), “which were put in a military precautionary posture.” On board the carrier, the captain and those of the crew with “a need to know” greeted the news with grim determination. The men worked throughout the rest of the 22nd and into the next day, arming and preparing their aircraft for what they anticipated would be operations over Cuba.

Aerial strike planning included both high-level and low-level options, aimed at gaining air supremacy and knocking out communist air defenses (AD), chain of command and infrastructure quickly, so as to be available to support planned U.S. amphibious and airborne landings, as part of CinCLantFlt Operation Plans 314-61 and 316-61, the air strikes themselves under the cognizance of 312-62.

By 22 October 1962, 17 submarine contacts in the western Atlantic and Caribbean had been prosecuted by the USN, not all of them “good” contacts, including at least three Foxtrots identified within the quarantine area, and at 0526 on that date, a Zulu-class boat was photographed in mid-Atlantic refueling alongside of Soviet auxiliary Terek. Should the crisis escalate, Enterprise would certainly be targeted by as many of these Soviet subs as possible, which “demonstrated a willingness” to expose periscopes or antennae when in need of information, but U.S. aerial radars were inadequate for detection and tracking, requiring the development of “high-resolution radars” for ASW aircraft.

CNO alerted the Fleet Commanders to the undersea menace: “I cannot emphasize too strongly how smart we must be to keep our heavy ships, particularly carriers, from being hit by surprise attack by Soviet submarines. Use all available intelligence, deceptive tactics, and evasion during forthcoming days. Good luck.”

President Kennedy’s televised conference that evening demonstrated the seriousness of the situation to the American people, as the President warned about “continued offensive military preparations” by the East Bloc. “It shall be the policy of this Nation,” the Chief Executive declared, “to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” For diplomatic reasons, Kennedy also announced the blockade of Cuba as a “quarantine,” the term considered less threatening in the already highly charged political climate, principally since a blockade is considered an act of war in international law: “To halt this offensive buildup,” the President told the world, “a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba, from whatever nation or port, will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back.”

The next day, the Soviets placed their strategic rocket forces on a higher state of alert. On the evening of 23 October, the President announced that the quarantine would begin at 1000 EDT on the 24th. International shipping was advised to avoid the area

The Enterprise and Independence groups, TGs 135.2 and 135.1 respectively, took station south of Cuba to enforce the blockade, operating south of the Windward Passage, between Cuba and the island of Hispaniola and southward, in the vicinity of 18ºN, 74º30”W. A pair of destroyers, which rotated with their reliefs during the crisis, normally escorted Enterprise, though on several occasions the ship was operating with as many as six. Enterpriseand Independence began alternating continous advance early warning patrols over the Windward Passage, on 24 October 1962.

A Strategic Air Command B-52 Stratofortress sighted the Soviet tanker Groznyy on 25 October. Playing a game of “chicken” with the Americans, her master attempted to run the blockade, but when the U.S. destroyers cleared their guns, the Russians “blinked,” and following implicit instructions from Moscow, Groznyy came about. Enterprise obtained a radar contact with the characteristics of a submarine during the afternoon of the 27th., and dispatched an A-1H to shadow the intruder. The Skyraider maintained a solid contact over the surfaced sub until relieved by an E-1B. Shortly after the turnover, the Russian submerged at approximately 18º50’N, 75º26’W.

When contact was lost the next day, some nervous moments were spent by the men on board the ships as TF 135 shifted position to south of 18º N, where the waters south and southwest of Jamaica provide “ideal” ASW conditions. Throughout this period, the carriers prepared for possible submarine attack, conducting evasive steering and zigzagging, as well as avoiding merchant shipping whenever possible, the latter capable of radioing their positions to lurking Russian ships or subs.

Planning continued toward a probable invasion of, or at the very minimum, strikes against Cuba, and at 0915 on the 27th, Enterprise recovered an 10 additional A-4Cs from VA-34, increasing her attack capabilities. At this point, TF 135 was “exercising max[imum] mobility because of potential submarine threat north of Jamaica. For present operating in southern sector from [Guantánamo Bay].” At 2220 on the 28th, Rear Admiral Hayward notified CinCLantFlt and CNO that he intended “to operate ENTERPRISE Group (TG 135.2) within 60 miles radius of 18-30N, 76-30W,” reaching a point with four destroyers south-southwest of Jamaica, by midnight.

TG Alpha identified a Soviet sub on the surface as a Foxtrot class, on 28 October, and three days later sub No. 911 was forced to the surface after almost 35 hours of continuous sonar contact, including active “pinging,” by dogged U.S. crews, the frantic Russians reaching the limits of human endurance.

Nonetheless, during the days to come, U.S. and Allied forces succeeded in turning back most of the communist ships. As “political negotiations” began in the UN and bilaterally between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the quarantine “entered a new phase.” On 28 October, Khrushchev accepted American terms for a cessation of the confrontation.

Two days later, as Enterprise was operating in the vicinity of 18ºN, 80ºW, and Independence near 16ºN, 78ºW, the President agreed to suspend aerial surveillance and active quarantine operations, pending the outcome of UN attempts to secure inspection guarantees and a “show of Soviet good faith.” Over the following days, the Russians finally conceded to Allied demands to withdraw their forces from Cuba.

By Halloween, Enterprise, accompanied by six destroyers, was steaming in a box within 60 miles of 18ºN, 80ºW. Throughout the first half of November, she continued to support quarantine efforts, her aircraft intercepting and trailing, and when appropriate operationally, photographing vessels of interest.

An Eastern Airlines commercial aircraft sighted a Soviet sub submerging 69 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and another boat, No. 945 was spotted surfacing on the 6th, rendezvousing with tug Pamir three days later. Additional submarine contacts were made on the 6th and the 13th, the tempo producing such a strain on men and machines that it was reported that air readiness could not be maintained at such a pace. Aircraft approachingEnterprise not equipped with identifying transponders increasingly became problematic, CAPs “frequently” launching to intercept unknown aircraft. One such interception involved a lost F-8E on 25 November.

The “first sign of relaxation came on the 14th,” when the JCS removed the global Minimize order (to reduce lower-level communications to priority traffic, due to high volumes overloading networks) issued on 21 October, though the “restriction remained within the 15th Naval District and most of the Western Atlantic.”

Between 4–11 November, Enterprise and her screen steamed round the western tip of Jamaica, operating to the northwest of the island, but transited with four destroyers to just north of the area between Falmouth and St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, during the 14th–15th, before returning to her more westerly operating area. Enterprise and Independence operated in a “geographic rectangle” formed by 18º10’N, 19º30’N, 77ºW and 80ºW, between 16–21 November.

By 15 November 1962, naval aircraft involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis flew 30,000 flight hours in 9,000 sorties, for a total distance of six million miles. Sixty-eight squadrons comprising 19,000 sailors participated in the action, and “each of the carriers had covered a 10,000 mile track.”

The ship orchestrated an unusual at-sea evolution between the 19th–-20th, when VA-34 switched places with VA-64 (both equipped with A-4Cs) from Enterprise on to Independence, the Black Lancers then embarking on boardEnterprise. The compliments of both squadrons were lifted between the carriers by helicopters, a difficult and dangerous operation.

As the crisis gradually subsided incidents nonetheless continued, but at about 1845 EDT on 20 November, the Atlantic Fleet was directed to discontinue operations, returning commands to “normal tasks.” TG 135.1 was “dissolved” on the 22nd, commands subsequently detaching to return to the U.S., by 20 December.

The capabilities of Enterprise and her embarked aircraft, flying a daily average of 120 sorties, to project power proved crucial to the successful resolution of the crisis. She completely dominated the southern Caribbean, as well as the approaches to Cuba and, in combination with other forces, prevented East Bloc reinforcements from penetrating the blockade, all but neutralizing apparent communist advantages.

However, Enterprise was forced to remain on station monitoring Soviet compliance with the agreement to remove weapons from Cuba, and to support the defense Guantánamo Bay. When the crisis began, the Navy was “very nearly caught with a disproportionate number of aircraft carriers out of service for overhaul, and voyage repairs.”

Carrier Saratoga (CVA-60) lay in overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, which exerted a “whole-hearted” effort that enabled Saratoga to sail on 16 November, 15 days ahead of schedule. Following an “expeditious” ammunition loadout and a brief period of refresher training off Mayport, she sailed to relieve Enterprise, arriving on station on 5 December.

The crew of the “Big E,” which spent 49 consecutive days at sea during the crisis, with her screening destroyers rotating for short in-port periods, some of only a single day’s duration, was thus given the chance to spend Christmas with their families. From the 7th–-8th, approximately 2,000 officers and men were heloed to “the beach” for leave and liberty, due to rough weather.

Enterprise received notification of her assignment to relieve Lexington (CVS-16) on 15 December, though the crisis abated sufficiently that it was not necessary to return to war stations before the New Year.

During his first weekly summary to Admiral Dennison following the quarantine, Vice Admiral Ward remarked: “Again the United States had turned to seapower to wield the iron fist in a velvet glove and again the Navy and ships of the Atlantic Fleet had shown this confidence was not misplaced.”

The ship again put to sea between 18–21 December, conducting suitability trials off the Virginia capes for Grumman A-6A Intruders and Grumman E-2A Hawkeyes. On the 19th, Lieutenant Commander Lee M. Ramsey flew aHawkeye off Enterprise in the first shipboard test of nose-tow gear designed to replace the catapult bridle and reduce launching intervals, and was followed a few minutes later by the second nose-tow launch, by an Intruder.

After spending Christmas and New Year’s at Norfolk, Enterprise sailed on 28 January 1963 for air wing refresher training in preparation for her second Med deployment. During this four day period underway, she hosted Senators Barry M. Goldwater, R. Ariz., himself a pilot and major general in the Air Force, and Milward L. Simpson, R., Wyo., together with Governor Albertis S. Harrison, Jr., D., Va. Senator Goldwater donned a Navy pilot’s “G” suit, launching from the ship “with ease.”

On 6 February 1963, Enterprise sailed from Norfolk, with VAW-33 Det 65 (Douglas EA-1F Skyraiders) augmenting CVG-6. The next afternoon, she rendezvoused with guided missile frigate Bainbridge (DLG(N)-25) off the coast of North Carolina, the first such rendezvous at sea between nuclear-powered ships, part of some 21-ships of TF 25 (Rear Admiral Hayward, embarked in Enterprise) transiting the Atlantic for their deployment to the 6th Fleet. Largely devoted to training exercises in the tactics of formation steaming and inter-ship communications, the transit also provided ample opportunity to demonstrate the advantages of nuclear-propulsion, as the formation was forced more than once to slow or reverse course to enable conventionally-powered ships to refuel while encountering the “rough and unruly Atlantic.” Enterprise and Bainbridge, however, steamed eastward unimpeded.

Near the west coast of Africa south of the Azores, a flight of Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 Bear long-range reconnaissance aircraft “buzzed” TF 25, but alert tracking by Bainbridge’s Combat Information Center (CIC) detected the intrusion at a comfortable range, warning the flagship. However, one of the Bears continued on, overflying the carrier.

Inchopping into the fleet’s AOR as she “swept past” Gibraltar on the 16th, Enterprise conducted additional training before relieving Forrestal on station at Pollensa Bay, Mallorca, Balearic Islands. Due to the lack of facilities at Pollensa for handling a ship as large as Enterprise, whenever visiting she normally anchored southeast of and close to Isla de Formentor, in order to gain some protection from the elements from Promontorio del Formentor.

Following turnover she made her first port call of the deployment, to Cannes, on 25 February–-3 March. En route the force encountered heavy seas, Bainbridge recording 35º–-40º rolls, though the carrier rode out the swells relatively more comfortably compared to her lighter consorts. During two of her three visiting days at Cannes, Enterprisehosted over 3,000 visitors, including U.S. Ambassador to France Charles E. Bohlen, and the mayor of Cannes, before weighing anchor on 4 March, for exercises with other NATO units.

Between 11–18 March, Enterprise called on Piraeus, the port for Athínai, Greece, where King Paul I Oldenburg and Queen Frederica of Hanover, together with members of the Greek Royal Family, visited the ship, before getting underway for a period of “joint USN task force operations in the Crete area,” known as MedLandEx, an amphibious landing exercise at Timbakion, Crete. Under the overall command of TF 61, she provided CAS and AAW protection for Allied forces, between 19–21 March. Following the exercises she visited Palermo, Sicily, from the 23rd–31st, anchoring out for the crew for liberty boat excursions ashore.

The ship then operated in the eastern Med, 1–7 April, participating in RegEx, a combined nuclear strike, ASW and AD exercise conducted off southern Italy, Greece and Turkey, under the command of TF 60, 2nd–3rd. Following RegEx, Enterprise visited Naples (8–15 April), where she participated in a one day aerial demonstration for ranking members of the NATO Defense College, on the 8th, including simulated attack runs by aircraft from VA-64.

The carrier then operated in the eastern Med, 15–19 April, before heading on to Cannes, where she called from the 21st–-29th. Cutting the visit short on the morning of the 28th, “in anticipation of a possible Middle East crisis,” Enterprise sailed from France, participating in Fair Game, Phase Bravo (Alpha was cancelled due to the same “unsettled conditions in the Middle East”), a “NATO-wide” exercise in the area near Corsica and southern France, operating with carriers Saratoga and the French Clemenceau (R.98), also under TF 60, 5–10 May.

Enterprise returned to Cannes, 11–20 May, where Rear Admiral William I. Martin relieved Rear Admiral Hayward as ComCarDiv-2, breaking his flag on board, on 17 May. The ship stood out again for steaming in the eastern Med, including ORI, from the 19th–26th. On 25 May, she passed 100,000 miles of steaming since commissioning.

The carrier then visited Corfu, Greece (27–30 May) after which she steamed to Taranto, Italy (31 May-–3 June). Enterprise then took part in “Chick’s Charge,” an exercise conducted with Bainbridge to “investigate sustained high speed tactics for nuclear powered surface ships,” 3–7 June, upon the conclusion of which they visited Ródhos, Greece, 8–11 June.

During MedLandEx III, an amphibious landing exercise at Kavalla, Greece, Enterprise supplied CAS and AAW protection for the landings, 12–15 June. She then crossed the eastern Med and visited Beirut, Lebanon, where the annual Administrative Inspection was also accomplished, 19–24 June.

Underway on the 24th, Enterprise steamed westward, conducting additional training en route, including recording her 20,000th landing, on 26 June, before calling on Genoa, Italy (1–8 July). Following further steaming in the eastern Med (7–12 July), the ship again visited Cannes (14–22 July). On the 23rd, Under Secretary of the Navy Paul B. Fay, Jr. “spent several hours [on] board while the ship demonstrated her capabilities as a mobile striking power.”

Afterward the ship visited Naples, 2–10 August. Enterprise next operated in MedLandEx IV, providing CAS and AAW protection for an amphibious landing exercise, this time off southern Sardinia, 11–14 August. Upon completion ofMedLandEx IV, she sailed westward, calling upon Barcelona, Spain, 15–22 August. After a week in Barcelona,Enterprise stood out and rendezvoused with cruiser Long Beach (CG(N)-9) in the western Med, on the 23rd, the first meeting of the two ships.

Enterprise steamed to Pollensa Bay, turning over to Independence on the 24th, and outchopping two days later for home. En route her return, she fell under the command of TF 26, arriving at Pier 12, NOB Norfolk, on 4 September.

At one point during a very dark night, an alert sounded at about 2100, and the men of VFP-62 Det 65 scrambled aloft a “Photo Crusader,” discovering in the process that it was an exercise, their target Saratoga. Preceded by aVigilante, the photo crew swept over the “enemy” carrier at 0030, photographing her with photo flash bombs. Returning to Enterprise, they secured by 0230, successfully demonstrating their versatility. Many of the men ofFighting Photo during this deployment had also participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis, considered “a very seasoned crew.”

Back at Norfolk on 5 September, Enterprise remained in port for her post-deployment stand-down and upkeep through 1 October. She then alternated periods in port with exercises at sea with the 2nd Fleet. While underway during 28 October–8 November, Enterprise hosted students from the Armed Forces Staff College, National War College and the Naval War College.

Enterprise operated with Forrestal in StrikEx I, a combined strike, ASW and AD exercise conducted in the southeastern U.S., under ComCarDiv-2, 4–6 December. This was followed by steaming off the Virginia capes, where she conducted her Administrative/Material Inspection, 12–13 December, and ORI, 20–23 January 1964. Also on the 20th, she hosted Secretary of the Navy Paul H. Nitze.

On 8 February 1964, Enterprise again set sail from Pier 12, NOB Norfolk, for the 6th Fleet, transiting the Atlantic eastbound under the command of TF 25. Supplementing CVW-6 was VAW-33 Det 65 (EA-1Fs).

Chopping to Com6thFlt on 19 February, she entered the Med on the 22nd, reaching Golfo di Palma, Sardinia, and turning over with Independence. Almost immediately the “Big E” became involved in exercises with Com6thFlt, while assigned to TF 60. During Early Bird, 24–26 February, Enterprise furnished CAP and strike aircraft both to protect and to oppose the transit of a NATO convoy in a major exercise. Early Bird began with a Fleet Conference in Soudha Bay on the 24th, attended by participating ships, including Enterprise, which anchored out in the bay.

On the evening of 25 February, Enterprise assisted the Finnish freighter Verna Paulin, which had signaled for help, telling of a crewman injured in a fall. Enterprise made a high speed run through the night to rendezvous with the ship. A Tracer from VAW-12, Lieutenant Marshal W. Jones, Ensign Matthew M. Cushing, Lieutenant (jg) Charles E. Murray and AMH1 Dow, launched to assist. Murray gave radar vectors to a helo carrying a flight surgeon from the carrier, who was put on board the vessel before sunrise, a dangerous evolution hampered by darkness. All received commendations from Rear Admiral Martin.

Enterprise and her crew stood out from Soudha on the 28th, for a visit to Istanbul, Turkey, 5–11 March, where they also anchored. Following their visit the officers and men of the ship and her embarked air wing participated in RegEx 1-64, 11th–-14th, tasked with a combined strike, ASW and AD exercise conducted in Turkey and Italy, concluding this period by contributing to the Cyprus Patrol, taking station as a result of “the unsettled political situation that existed on the island,” 14–21 March.

During this period, Enterprise was joined by Amphibious TF 61, whose sailors and Marines had “been at sea for several weeks with no prospects of hitting a liberty port in the near future.” On 17 March, the “Big E” hove to near TF 61, and the men of Enterprise plied her boats back and forth all day to enable liberty parties to “visit the carrier. Hanger decks were set up for athletic events, and all of the ships stores and soda fountains were opened. In addition, an aerial firepower demonstration was staged to “show these men the type of support they could expect if ever the time came that they might need it.”

Enterprise’s embarked pilots had the opportunity to make simulated conventional strikes against ground and naval targets in southern France during Lafayette V, a bilateral exercise with the French, 26–27 March. Upon completing the exercise Enterprise visited Cannes, 28 March–6 April.

Between 1 October 1963 – 31 March 1964, Enterprise steamed 26,073.2 miles, achieving her 28,000th arresting landing on 12 March. Lieutenant “Red” Potts of VAW-12 approaching for a landing on 5 April, the ship’s 30,000th, but was waved-off for short interval and “CAG got the landing instead.”

As April began, Enterprise found herself as flagship for TF 60. She made a grueling replenishment with store ship Rigel (AF-58) on the 6th, the men of the two ships breaking existing 6th Fleet cargo transfer records by passing 194 tons of provisions per hour to the carrier, 600 tons all told.

Enterprise continued to operate near Italy throughout the month, visiting Naples, from 13–20 April, where they put on two air shows, on the 13th and the 20th, as well as hosting students from the NATO Defense College during the former and officers from the Air War College during the latter.

On 24 April Enterprise again received Secretary of the Navy Nitze, on an extended tour observing naval forces in Europe. The “Secretary had hardly been piped off” then Vice Admiral Paul H. Ramsey, AirLant, came on board for two days. Enterprise proceeded on to Genoa, 27 April–4 May. On 5 May Enterprise aircraft furnished CAS for an Italian Army exercise conducted in the Po River valley.

The high pace of operations on the 5th included a near tragedy, avoided by the quick reactions of responders. At 1023, Lieutenant Commander Jerrold B. Chapdelaine, pilot and AE1 Clifton N. Stringer, bombardier/navigator, VAH-7, launched in their A-5A, Bureau (Serial) Number (BuNo.) 148931, for a dual mission as duty tanker and for practice bombing. The weather was calm, moderate sea state, with a fresh breeze. At approximately 1132, Chapdelaine began a high angle loft maneuver using a smokelight as the target. After passing approximately the vertical position, he noted unusual rolling and yawing tendencies and selected maximum afterburner. As the nose passed through the horizon, he attempted to roll upright, but the Vigilante entered uncontrolled flight. Unsuccessful at attempts to recover, the crew ejected after passing an indicated altitude of 2,500 feet, hitting the water about four miles from the carrier. Plane guard destroyer Kenneth D. Bailey (DDR-713) rescued Chapdelaine and a Kaman UH-2A Seasprite, Lieutenant (jg) Christopher R. Thomas, Ensign David C. Shelby, Airman J.S. Mitchell and Airman G.S.Fox, from Helicopter Utility Squadron (HU)-2 Det 65, flying the starboard plane guard position, retrieved Stringer, whose condition prompted Lieutenant (j.g.) Thomas to elect to depart immediately for the ship, so that Airman Mitchell, who had entered the water to assist the injured bombardier/navigator onto the rescue seat, had to be recovered by the destroyer.

Following that exercise, Enterprise put into Cannes for a port visit, 9–13 May. Upon getting underway, it was revealed that “the anchor shank had broken and the major part of the anchor remained unrecoverable on the bottom of the bay.”

Meanwhile, Long Beach and Bainbridge sailed for the Med on 28 April, accompanying carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt(CVA-42). Making their eastbound transit at high speed, the ships trained in ECM tactics, entering the Med in the dead of night on 10 May. The ships steamed to Pollensa Bay, Mallorca, where they held a turnover conference, before departing for their deployment and participation with Enterprise in Operation Sea Orbit.

Enterprise rendezvoused with Long Beach and Bainbridge on 13 May, forming Nuclear TF 1 (Rear Admiral Bernard M. Strean), the world’s first nuclear-powered task force. Also the only NTDS-equipped and nuclear-powered ships in service, they began a unique series of evaluations and tests to determine the efficiency of their systems working together, through 22 July.

The task force participated in Fairgame II, 13–22 May, a strike, ASW and amphibious exercise off southern France and Corsica, Enterprise also attending a fleet conference at Rade de Salins, France, on the 16th.

The ship’s size and nuclear propulsion enabled Enterprise to carry greater quantities of fuel and cargo then hitherto possible, and she continued to break existing records. Halfway through Fairgame II, she rendezvoused with oiler Mississinewa (AO-144) for an underway replenishment on the busy day of 16 May. Mississinewa transferred 437,000-gallons of JP-5 jet fuel per hour to Enterprise, another 6th Fleet record for the two ships. On the 22nd, Enterprise set a pumping record when her aircraft were fueled with 309,612-gallons of JP-5 in 24 hours.

Bainbridge entered Naples on 7 June, to pick up 87 midshipmen for their Summer Cruise. All but 14 were subsequently transferred by helicopter and high line to Enterprise and Long Beach.

While at sea later in June, TF 1 operated with three U.S. attack submarines, including Seawolf (SSN-575), another unique dimension to their experiences. Being matched against an actual nuclear-powered opponent, as opposed to simulations, challenged crews in ASW tactics.

Lieutenant Christopher R. Thomas, HU-2 Det 65, affected the first night autorotation of a helicopter to the flight deck of an attack carrier on the night of 16 July. Thomas was flying an UH-2A when his Seasprite experienced complete engine failure over the deck of Enterprise, Thomas and his crew recovering safely.

Additional ports visited during her cruise included Cannes, 23–28 May, Genoa, 29 May–3 June, Naples, 13–15 June, Palermo, 15–18 June, Taranto, where an admiral’s reception for Italian officials was held, 19–24 June, Barcelona, 3–8 July, Palma, Mallorca, 10–15 July, Naples, 23–27 July and Pollensa Bay, Mallorca, where she turned over to Forrestalon the 29th.

On the evening of 20 July, one of the ship’s company, ABH3 J.M. Davis, was blown overboard from Enterprise. HU-2 crew Ensign Verne P. Giddings, Ensign Dennis C. Rautio, ADJ3 J.V. Tomlin and ADR3 J.A. Lukens, immediately proceeded to the port side of the ship in their Seasprite and hoisted Davis aloft in barely two minutes.

Embarked on board the carrier for Operation Sea Orbit was CVW-6 (VA-64, VA- 66 and VA-76 (A-4Cs), VA-65 (A-1Hs and A-6A Intruders), VF-33 (F-8Es and F-4Bs) and VF-102 (F-4Bs), VAH-7 (A-5As), VFP-62 Det 65 (RF-8As), VAW-12 Det 65 (E-1Bs), HU-2 Det 65 and VRC-40 Det 65 (two C-1As).

Readying his men and their ships for Sea Orbit, Rear Admiral Strean noted: “We will test the ability of these new ships …around the world…. This cruise will be of tremendous importance to the Navy.” Planning for the epic cruise included the novel experiment of foregoing underway replenishments, primarily to test the feasibility of the concept of nuclear-powered ships’ survivability and flexibility in the event of a global conflict with the Soviet Union, as basing rights would be reduced by changes in the political climate or enemy attacks, if not entirely unavailable.

However, achieving such an unorthodox goal required massive provisioning prior to departure. Enterprise thus again came alongside of Rigel for provisioning, in the western Med, at 0500 on 30 July.

The route for Sea Orbit would take the ships down the western coastline of African, round the Cape of Good Hope, across the Indian and Pacific Oceans, round the Cape of Good Horn at the tip of South America and up along the Atlantic coastline of the latter continent to home.

“Part of our mission,” Rear Admiral Strean later explained, “is to test the ability of these ships to maintain high speed indefinitely while operating in all kinds of sea and weather environments.” Sustained steaming in the open sea throughout the cruise was usually accomplished at a speed of advance (SOA) of 22 knots, modified as needed for shipping and navigational hazards. However, under “the weather conditions encountered,” this SOA proved “extremely conservative.” During the transit between New Zealand and Cape Horn, TF 1 maintained “with ease” an SOA of 25.56 knots, and there was never a time during the cruise where “a speed of 30 knots could not have been maintained.”

At 1430 on 31 July, Enterprise, Long Beach and Bainbridge began their epic cruise by westerly passage through the Strait of Gibraltar. Chopping to the Atlantic Fleet they became TF 1 (Rear Admiral Strean), before putting into Rabat, Morocco, for their first port visit.

VRC-40’s Traders supported TF 1 throughout the cruise by providing mail, cargo and passenger service, VIP passengers including numerous high-ranking dignitaries from countries visited along the route, as well as sailors requiring emergency leave.

From Rabat the ships sailed southward down the Atlantic coastline of Africa, arriving off Dakar, Senegal, on 3 August, where Enterprise hosted a Senegalese delegation, led by Emile Badiane, Minister of Health, Education and Welfare, Colonel J.A. Diallo, Acting Minister of Defense, and French Contre-Amiral Gabriel M. D’Oince, Commandant, South Atlantic Naval Zone.

History Continued on Page Two