In 1775, the Continental Navy commissioned a sloop of war and dubbed her Enterprise. A second schooner followed in 1776 with the same name, one so good you had to see it twice on the Naval List.
In 1799 the third (and first “USS” Enterprise on the U.S. Navy List), an 84-foot 12-gun schooner was built, going on to capture eight French privateers during the Quasi-War and fire the first shots in the First Barbary War.
On 5 September 1813, the schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant William Burrows, captured the brig HMS Boxer off Portland, Maine
The fourth Enterprise (and second USS) was another schooner, and joined the fleet in 1831, going on to roam South America to patrol and protect commerce until she was sold in 1844.
The fifth Enterprise was a screw sloop of war that joined the Navy during the Great Repairs period of the 1870s and remained as a school ship through the time of the Great White Fleet, a remarkable (for the age) 32 years.
Training ship USS Enterprise, 1909, Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection
The sixth Enterprise was a civilian motorboat taken into service as S.P. 790 during the Great War to patrol the Second Naval District out of Newport.
The seventh USS Enterprise (CV-6) was the most famous, a Yorktown-class fleet carrier that made history at Midway and went on to be the most decorated and recognized U.S. ship of World War II, earning an amazing 20 battle stars as well as Presidential and Navy Unit Citations. Of note, four cruisers are tied for second place with 17 stars each.
USS Enterprise (CV-6) Operating in the Pacific, circa late June 1941. She is turning into the wind to recover aircraft. Note her natural wood flight deck stain and dark Measure One camouflage paint scheme. The flight deck was stained blue in July 1941, during camouflage experiments that gave her a unique deck stripe pattern. 80-G-K-14254
The eighth Enterprise (CVAN-65) was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and completed a half-century in service through Vietnam and the Cold War, besting the venerable old sloop-of-war of the same name by two full decades.
NORFOLK, VA.-Sailors stand in formation to recreate the E=MC2 photo tradition on Feb. 17, 2011, in preparation for the 50th birthday of USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65). The Enterprise is the first and oldest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier still in service and is celebrating its 50th birthday on Nov. 25, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd class Alex R. Forster/Released)
Now, the ninth ship and the third aircraft carrier in the history of the U.S. Navy to bear the name, CVN-80, will also be the first American super-carrier since USS America was commissioned in 1966 not to be named in honor of a person.
USS Enterprise (CVN-80) had her keel laid over the weekend. The ship’s Sponsors are Olympians Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky.
Awarded in 2016 and her first steel cut in 2017, the third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier is expected to join the fleet in late 2025, likely replacing the second Nimitz-class carrier, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), which at that point will be 48-years-old and 20-years past her last refueling.
She will carry lots of history forward.
Steel from CVN-65 will be recycled into the hull of the new USS Enterprise (CVN-80) as will the portholes from her Captain’s cabin (which were carried on CV-6 during WWII!) and her bell.
One of six porthole frames and covers was removed from the bridge of USS Enterprise (CV-6) in 1958. These portholes were installed in the Captain’s cabin aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and are slated to be installed aboard the next ship to bear the name of Enterprise, CVN-80.
Plaque, Historical Data, USS Enterprise (CVN-65) 47 ¼” x 21 ½” x 1” Brass NHHC 2013.025.002 Headquarters Artifact Collection: Naval History and Heritage Command Eight U.S. Navy vessels have born the name Enterprise. This plaque displays the different engagements that each vessel bearing the name Enterprise was involved in since 1775. This plaque was on display aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) which is the longest-serving aircraft carrier in United States Navy history with 51 years of active service.
Bell, Ship’s, USS Enterprise (CVN-65) 23” x 22”, 200 lbs. Brass NHHC 2013.025.001 Headquarters Artifact Collection: Naval History and Heritage Command This bell hung within the hull of USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. During its career, the ship saw service as a tracking station for the Friendship 7 space capsule, performed blockade duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis, had six combat deployments to Southeast Asia, was refitted to support the brand new F-14A Tomcat, and deployed to the North Arabian Sea in the fall of 2001 to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom.
And she will always endure in maritime art and in the hearts of those who walked her decks.
“Enterprise on Yankee Station” by R.G. Smith, Oil Painting, c. 1968. Accession: 88-160-EU Courtesy U.S. Navy Art Gallery, Naval History and Heritage Command
NHHC was on hand at the event with other relics that may or may not end up in the new carrier:
Quarterdeck bell from USS Enterprise (CVN 65) at keel laying of CVN-80
Keel laying plaque from USS Enterprise (CVN 65) at keel laying of CVN-80
Builders plaque from USS Enterprise (CV 6) at keel laying of CVN-80
Bomb and kamikaze fragments from USS Enterprise (CV 6) at keel laying of CVN-80