Enterprise file photo

USS Enterprise

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassYorktown-class Aircraft Carrier
Laid Down16 Jul 1934
Launched3 Oct 1936
Commissioned12 May 1938
Decommissioned17 Feb 1947
Displacement19800 tons standard; 25500 tons full
Length809 feet
Beam110 feet
Draft26 feet
MachineryNine Babcock and Wilcox boilers, four Parson geared turbines, four screws
Power Output120000 SHP
Speed32 knots
Range12,500nm at 15 knots
Crew2217
Armament8x5in single 38 caliber guns, 4x1.1in quad 75 caliber machine guns, 24x0.50 caliber machine guns
Armor2.5-4in belt, 4in bulkheads, 2-4in conning tower, 4in side over steering gear
Aircraft90
Elevators3
Flight Deck Hydraulic Catapaults2
Hangar Deck Hydraulic Catapaults1

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Enterprise sailed off South American for her shakedown cruise and operated off of the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean Sea until Apr 1939. Transferred to the Pacific, she trained navy pilots on carrier operations. When Pearl Harbor was struck by the Japanese in Dec 1941, she was en route from Wake, thus escaping potential damage or destruction. Her aircraft scouted the area for retreating Japanese vessels but failed in the search attempt. They did, however, find and sink submarine I-70 on 10 Dec 1941. In late Dec 1941, she sailed for Wake to assist the defending garrison, but it was already too late to make a difference. Beginning in Jan 1942, she began operating in South and Central Pacific.

On 1 Feb 1942, her task force struck the Marshall Islands, dealing significant damage. Enterprise received minor damage. During Feb and Mar, she continued to supply the aircraft that attacked various Japanese bases in the Central Pacific. She returned to Pearl Harbor in late Mar 1942 and received repairs. In Apr, she provided air cover for USS Hornet to launch the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

In early May, Enterprise sailed south in anticipation of what would become the Battle of Coral Sea, but she arrived too late to participate in the action. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 May, and immediately began to prepare for another anticipated action somewhere off of the Hawaiian Islands. On 28 May, she set sail from Pearl Harbor as the flagship of Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance "to hold Midway and inflict maximum damage on the enemy by strong attrition tactics." On 4 Jun 1942, a combination of luck and skill on the part of pilots from three American carriers led to the discovery and sinking of four Japanese fleet carriers. Enterprise's pilots were given credit for the sinking of Soryu and Akagi. She returned to Pearl Harbor undamaged on 13 Jun.

On 15 Jul 1942, Enterprise sailed for the South Pacific. As a part of Task Force 61, her aircraft support the landings on the Solomons Islands on 8 Aug. On 24 Aug, she participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. With Enterprise's aircraft lured to a sideshow by light carrier Ryujo, aircraft from Shokaku and Zuikaku passed the anti-aircraft curtain laid down by North Carolina and other ships and attacked Enterprise. One of the three bombs that hit Enterprise passed through several decks aft and exploded deep in the carrier and caused serious fires and casualties. However, effective damage control kept her from being disabled. She was able to restore use of the flight deck briefly while the Japanese aircraft returned for fuel. Enterprise managed to transfer the majority of her aircraft to Henderson Field at Guadalcanal before limping away to the southeast to fight another day. During this confrontation, Enterprise's aircraft also disabled the Japanese seaplane carrier Chitose, though she would be saved. The three bomb hits and four near misses cost Enterprise 74 lives with another 95 wounded.

After down time between 10 Sep and 16 Oct, Enterprise returned to Task Force 61 in late Oct. On 26 Oct, she engaged in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands with carrier Hornet. Initially hidden in a squall, Enterprise was hidden from Japanese detection, leading to Hornet bearing the entire weight of the attack by herself. But by 0930 that day, Enterprise's aircraft found the Japanese carrier Shokaku and commenced their own attack. Without adequate fighter cover, Enterprise's dive bombers suffered heavy losses, but did successfully plant several 1,000-lb bombs on Shokaku causing damage so heavy that she was to be placed in repairs for nine months. At 1000, Japanese aircraft found Enterprise, and just like Enterprise's aircraft they mounted an uncoordinated attack on the enemy vessel. Out of the 23 bombs released, only two landed on the Enterprise. The first hit exploded 50 feet under the forecastle deck, and the second crashed into the third deck before exploding. Despite damage, Enterprise was not disabled. The Japanese sank carrier Hornet and sailed away with a tactical victory; the battle cost Enterprise 44 killed and 75 wounded.

On 30 Oct 1942, Enterprise made port call at Nouméa, New Caledonia for repairs. On 11 Nov, she sailed prematurely for the Solomon Islands again with repair crew still on board due to war demands. She arrived at the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, in which battle her aircraft helped sinking 16 ships (including helping to sink the battleship Hiei) and damaging 8. She returned to Nouméa on 16 Nov to complete her repairs. She spent most of Dec 1942 and Jan 1943 at Espiritu Santo for training.

On 30 Jan 1943, Enterprise's aircraft flew air cover during the Battle of Rennell Island. Between 1 Feb and May 1943, she covered troops and supplies being shipped to the Solomons Islands. On 27 May 1943, she received the first Presidential Unit citation won by an aircraft carrier. On 20 Jul 1943, she made port call at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an extensive overhaul.

Returning to action in Nov 1943, Enterprise provided air-support during the landing on Makin Island. During the night of 26 Nov, she launched the first carrier night fighters of the United States Navy. She returned for Pearl Harbor after launching an aerial attack on Kwajalein on 4 Dec.

Between 29 Jan and 3 Feb 1944, Enterprise's aircraft, as members of Task Force 58, attacked the Marshall Islands and Kwajalein. On 17 Feb, she attacked Truk in the Caroline Islands. Three days later, she launched a strike on Jaluit Atoll. From this point on, she provided air cover and close ground support on nearly every landing operation, large or small, in the Pacific. One of the major engagements she participated during this time was the Battle of the Philippine Sea between 19 and 20 Jun 1944, where she provided air cover for the landings at Saipan. At the end of that battle, 429 Japanese aircraft were shot down at the total cost of 29 American aircraft.

Between Oct 10 and 20 1944, Enterprise attacked Taiwan, Okinawa, and the Philippine Islands in preparation of an invasion of the Philippines. During the Battle of Sibuyan Sea, her aircraft played a major role in the sinking of several major Japanese vessels. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 6 Dec 1944 after another month of support in the Philippines area. She returned to the Philippines at the end of the year, performing raids on Japanese shipping as well as providing day- and night-time fighter escort for bombers that headed for the Japanese home islands.

During the Battle of Iwo Jima, Enterprise's aircraft provided air cover between 10 Feb and 9 Mar. On 15 Mar, she departed Ulithi for attacks on Kyushu, Honshu, and Japanese shipping but was turned back on 18 Mar after receiving damage from a Japanese bomb. Between 5 Apr and 11 Apr, she supported the Okinawa landings and received damaged from a kamikaze aircraft. She returned to Okinawa once again on 6 May after receiving repairs at Ulithi, but was once again damaged by kamikaze on 14 May 1945, causing 14 deaths with another 34 wounded. She sailed for repairs at Puget Sound Navy Yard and remained there until the end of the war.

After the war, Enterprise participated in Operation Magic Carpet that brought troops back to the United States. While at Britain, she received the British Admiralty Pennant, the only ship outside of the Royal Navy to receive the honor. Enterprise was decommissioned in Feb 1947 and was sold for scrap to the Lipsett Corporation of New York City.

Sources: the Struggle for Guadalcanal, Wikipedia.

Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise Interactive Map

USS Enterprise Operational Timeline

12 May 1938 Enterprise was commissioned into service.
15 Jun 1938 USS Enterprise conducted her first air operation.
18 Jul 1938 USS Enterprise departed Norfolk, Virginia, United States for her shakedown cruise.
25 Jul 1938 Several officers and men of USS Enterprise participated in a parade in Ponce, Puerto Rico, during which several Puerto Rican nationalists disrupted parade with gunfire.
20 Aug 1938 USS Enterprise crossed the Equator off Brazil.
21 Dec 1938 Charles Pownall was named the commanding officer of USS Enterprise.
2 May 1939 USS Enterprise departed the Panama Canal Zone for California, United States.
15 Feb 1941 An advance echelon of the US Marine Corps 1st Defense Battalion departed San Diego, California, United States aboard USS Enterprise for Johnston Island and Palmyra Atoll via Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
21 Mar 1941 George Murray was named the commanding officer of USS Enterprise.
28 Nov 1941 The air echelon of US Marine Fighter Squadron 211 secretly flew 12 F4F-3 fighters from Ewe to Ford Island for further transfer to USS Enterprise. Later on the same day, USS Enterprise set sail for Wake Island. En route, Captain G. D. Murray of the USS Enterprise informed his subordinates that the carrier was now operating under war conditions.
3 Dec 1941 Carrier USS Enterprise began to launch F4F Wildcat fighters of the US Marine Corps for Wake Island.
4 Dec 1941 Carrier USS Enterprise completed launching F4F Wildcat fighters of the US Marine Corps for Wake Island and set sail for Hawaii Islands, scheduling to arrive on 6 Dec 1941.
6 Dec 1941 USS Enterprise encountered heavy weather which delayed her refueling operation for destroyers and delayed the arrival at Pearl Harbor.
16 Dec 1941 USS Enterprise task force returned to Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii after failing to find the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack force.
20 Dec 1941 US Navy Task Force 8 with USS Enterprise departed from Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for waters between Johnston Island and Midway.
11 Jan 1942 USS Enterprise departed from Pearl Harbor to escort transports of US Marines to American Samoa.
21 Jan 1942 American carriers Enterprise and Yorktown and their task forces set course to raid Marshall and Gilbert Islands.
5 Feb 1942 USS Enterprise arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
14 Feb 1942 USS Enterprise departed from Pearl Harbor for Wake Island.
24 Feb 1942 USS Enterprise launched aircraft to attack Wake Island.
4 Mar 1942 USS Enterprise launched aircraft against Marcus Island.
11 Mar 1942 USS Enterprise arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
8 Apr 1942 USS Enterprise departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii to make rendezvous with USS Hornet, which was en route to strike the Japanese home islands.
25 Apr 1942 USS Enterprise arrived at Pearl Harbor after conducting the Doolittle Raid.
30 Apr 1942 USS Enterprise sailed toward Coral Sea, but would arrive too late to participate in the upcoming battle.
11 May 1942 USS Enterprise arrived near New Hebrides.
16 May 1942 USS Enterprise received orders to return to Pearl Harbor.
26 May 1942 USS Enterprise arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
28 May 1942 USS Enterprise departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for Midway Atoll.
2 Jun 1942 USS Enterprise made rendezvous with USS Yorktown and USS Hornet 350 miles northeast of Midway. Rear Admiral Fletcher took overall tactical command of this fleet.
13 Jun 1942 USS Enterprise arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
15 Jul 1942 USS Enterprise departed Pearl Harbor for the South Pacific.
12 Sep 1942 USS Enterprise departed Tongatapu, Tonga for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
23 Oct 1942 USS Enterprise and USS South Dakota arrived at Nouméa, New Caledonia.
11 Nov 1942 USS Enterprise departed Nouméa, New Caledonia with welders still working aboard.
20 Jul 1943 USS Enterprise made port call at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an extensive overhaul.
22 Jan 1944 USS Enterprise departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
16 Jan 1945 Aircraft from USS Enterprise struck neutral Portuguese Macau, destroying stores of aviation fuel at the Naval Aviation Center.
14 May 1945 Japanese special attack aircraft damaged USS Enterprise off Okinawa, Japan.
10 Oct 1945 USS Enterprise arrived at the Panama Canal Zone.
11 Oct 1945 USS Enterprise departed the Panama Canal Zone.
17 Oct 1945 USS Enterprise entered the Hudson River in New York, New York, United States in preparation of the Navy Day holiday celebrations.
17 Feb 1947 Enterprise was decommissioned from service.

Photographs

Aerial view of carrier Enterprise underway, 12 Apr 1939USS Enterprise in the Pacific Ocean, en route to Pearl Harbor in US Territory of Hawaii, 8 Oct 1939Enterprise with with TBD and SBC aircraft parked on flight deck, circa 1940Submarines Salmon, Seal, Pickerel, Plunger, Snapper, and Permit, San Diego harbor, California, United States, 1940; note carrier Enterprise in background
See all 64 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Ralph E Shaffer says:
    9 Dec 2007 01:30:26 PM

    Seeking information about my dad who was a Radar Operator during 13 major battles on the USS Enterprise during World War 2. thank you Ralph E. Shaffer
  2. Bob Herrmann says:
    3 Jan 2010 09:24:05 PM

    where is the ww2 carrier enterprise now?
  3. Ron Powell says:
    18 Jan 2010 08:27:02 AM

    The end of the "Big E"
    Enterprise entered the New York Naval Shipyard on 18 January 1946 for deactivation, and was decommissioned on 17 February 1947. In 1946, she had been scheduled to be handed over to the state of New York as a permanent memorial, but this plan was suspended in 1949. Subsequent attempts were made at preserving the ship as a museum or memorial, but fund-raising efforts failed to raise enough money to buy the vessel from the Navy, and the "Big E" was sold on 1 July 1958 to the Lipsett Corporation of New York City for scrapping at Kearny, New Jersey. A promise was made to save the distinctive tripod mast for inclusion in the Naval Academy's new football stadium, but was never fulfilled instead, a memorial plaque was installed at the base of what is still called "Enterprise Tower." Scrapping was complete as of May 1960. In 1984, a permanent "Enterprise Exhibit" was dedicated at the Naval Aviation Museum, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida to house artifacts, photos and other items of historical interest.
    Surviving Enterprise artifacts include the ship's bell, which resides at the U.S. Naval Academy, where it is traditionally rung only after midshipmen victories over West Point and the sixteen-foot, one-ton nameplate from the ship's stern, which sits near a Little League park in River Vale, New Jersey. Her commissioning plaque and one of her anchors are on display at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Various other artifacts and mementos (including one of her portholes) are kept aboard her namesake successor.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Enterprise_(CV-6)
  4. Bob Holtzmann says:
    23 Feb 2013 09:38:08 AM

    Admiral Halsey was fighting to save the Big E, but those efforts failed, and he died within a year of its scrapping. Interestingly, the 1960 movie based on Halsey's war experiences, "The Gallant Hours", has a brief scene with James Cagney, as Halsey, walking with other officers in front of what appears to be the actual decommissioned Enterprise, while it is getting worked over with cutting torches. I'm trying to find info that can verify this.
  5. P says:
    27 Feb 2013 04:58:32 PM

    Looking for info on my father. FRED G. KIRSCH. I know very little and would appreciate any help. Don't know the dates he served but know it was before 1958. I am new to searching so am open to any tips. Thank You.
  6. mike says:
    16 Oct 2013 08:43:21 PM

    Looking for anyone who knew my father Elmer Grubbs on the use enterprise
  7. Anonymous says:
    22 Mar 2014 08:59:43 PM

    Is there somewhere I can get my fathers service records without paying a site for them?

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More on USS Enterprise
Personnel:
» George Murray
» Raymond Spruance

Event(s) Participated:
» Doolittle Raid
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands
» Guadalcanal Campaign
» Solomon Islands Campaign
» Gilbert Islands Campaign
» Attack on Truk
» Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Raid into the South China Sea
» Battle of Iwo Jima
» Okinawa Campaign

Document(s):
» US Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, Enclosure E, Commander Enterprise Air Group

Related Books:
» Enterprise


Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise Photo Gallery
Aerial view of carrier Enterprise underway, 12 Apr 1939
See all 64 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise



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