The USS Enterprise's Last Tour
After 51 years of service, the historic aircraft carrier is about to be decommissioned.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- Air & Space magazine, November 2012
Ingalls Shipbuilding/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman
First established in 1957, the Dragonslayers of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 11 originally flew the Sikorsky HSS-1 Seabat. They would be the first antisubmarine warfare squadron deployed, in 1969, as part of a modern carrier air wing, on board the Forrestal. The squadron specialized in astronaut recovery during that decade, scooping up various Gemini crew members including Ed White, James McDivitt, James Lovell, and Buzz Aldrin.
Today the Dragonslayers use the Sikorsky HH-60H (here, a Seahawk in the Atlantic Ocean in October 2012) to insert Navy SEALs behind enemy lines, attack submerged targets, and transfer cargo.
What will happen to Enterprise VIII after it's decommissioned? According to the Navy's Enterprise page, the carrier will remain at Norfolk for six months offloading equipment, then will be towed to Huntington Ingalls Industries at Newport News Shipyard for inactivation. After that, Enterprise will be towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for dismantling and recycling. The four-year process will take longer than it did to construct the carrier.