Nearly 12,000 past and current crewmembers, family & friends attended the inactivation of aircraft carrier 'USS Enterprise'.
Enterprise, the world's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, recently completed its 25th and final deployment and returned to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk for a scheduled inactivation, held prior to the ship's terminal offload program and subsequent decommissioning.
The inactivation ceremony was the last official public event for the ship, and served as a celebration of life for the ship and the more than 100,000 Sailors who served aboard.
The Chief of Naval Operations, the Commander of United States Fleet Forces, nine of twenty-three prior commanding officers, many decorated war heroes, and thousands of Enterprise veterans attended the event.
"Enterprise is a special ship and crew, and it was special long before I got here" said Captain William C. Hamilton, Jr., the twenty-third and final commanding officer, during the ceremony.
"Before I took command of this ship, I learned the definition of 'enterprise', which is 'an especially daring and courageous undertaking driven by a bold and adventurous spirit.' Fifty-one years ago, this ship was every bit of that definition."
"Here we are 51 years later," he continued, "celebrating the astonishing successes and accomplishments of this engineering marvel that has roamed the seas for more than half the history of Naval Aviation. Daring, courageous, bold, and adventurous indeed."
More than 100,000 Sailors and Marines have served aboard Enterprise during its lifetime, which has included every major conflict since the Cuban Missile Crisis. It has been home ported in both Alameda, Calif., and Norfolk, Va., and has conducted operations in every region of the world.