How the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier lives on in other US Navy flattops

  • The USS Enterprise, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, may be out of action, but it lives on in other active US Navy aircraft carriers, according to Defence One.
  • Parts from the “Big E” are being harvested and have so far been incorporated into the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS George Washington.
  • After 51 years of service, the Enterprise is sitting lifeless at a shipyard in Virginia, where it waits for a decision by the Navy on exactly what to do with the decommissioned flattop.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier – the USS Enterprise – is being harvested for parts for other US Navy flattops.

The Enterprise waged war from Vietnam to Afghanistan during its 51 years of service. Decommissioned a little over two years ago, the “Big E” rests at the James River shipyard at Newport News in Virginia, where it waits on the Navy to figure out what to do with the enormous one-of-a-kind ship.


Read more:
The US Navy is pouring millions of dollars into this nuclear-powered aircraft carrier it can’t figure out how to scrap

But while CVN 65 is no longer taking the fight to the enemy on the high seas, it will live on in its successors.

“We are harvesting as many parts as we can from the Enterprise,” Chris Miner, vice president of in-service carriers at Newport News, told Defence One’s Marcus Weisgerber and Brad Peniston during a visit to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding. “She’s still giving back even today.”

Parts from the Enterprise are being incorporated into existing Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. Pieces of the retired Navy vessel will also be added to future Ford-class carriers, including one that bears the same name.


The USS Abraham Lincoln was a recipient of one of the Enterprise’s anchors.

Source: Defence One


The anchor for a Nimitz-class carrier weighs 60,000 pounds. The chains add another 20,500 pounds.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Refugio CarrilloWorkers from Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard prepare the port side anchor to be installed on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Source: The Drive


The USS George Washington, along with the Lincoln, received components of the Enterprise’s aircraft-launching catapults.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Benjamin K. KittlesonThe Military Sealift Command fleet-replenishment oiler USNS Yukon, top, alongside the USS George Washington.

Source: Defence One


US Navy aircraft carriers rely on steam or electromagnetic catapults to launch aircraft. The launch system is more effective and efficient than the ski jumps seen on Russian and Chinese carriers.

U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean CastellanoThe USS Carl Vinson.

The Navy has taken possession of the Enterprise’s four 32-ton propellers. It is unclear at this time what the Navy intends to do with them.

US NavyPropellers of the USS Enterprise.

Source: The Drive


Part of the decommissioned USS Enterprise’s steel hull has been taken out and melted to become part of the keel, a structural backbone for the ship, for the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80), one of the Navy’s elite new Ford-class supercarriers.

Department of DefenceArtist rendering of USS Enterprise (CVN 80).

Source: Defence One


There is also the possibility that parts of the nuclear-reactor plant can be used on other carriers, despite the plant being quite different from more modern carriers, having eight small reactors rather than the two larger ones seen on Nimitz and Ford-class carriers.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.