The first USS ENTERPRISE, a British supply sloop, was captured in May
1775 at St. Johns, Quebec, Canada, by Colonel B. Arnold, named
ENTERPRISE, and armed for use on Lake Champlain.
On 28 August 1775, ENTERPRISE and other vessels embarked more than
1,000 troops as part of an expedition against St Johns, Montreal. and
Quebec. Though St. Johns and Montreal were captured, and Quebec was
besieged, the arrival of strong British reinforcements forced the
Americans to withdraw from Canada in the spring of 1776. ENTERPRISE and
the other craft sailed to Isle aux Noix in the Richelieu River where
they waited while Arnold directed the building of a fleet at
Ticonderoga and Skenesborough (Whitehall), and the British-built ships
at St Johns.
The battle was finally joined on 11 October 1776 at Valcour Island,
near Plattsburg, N.Y. Arnold chose the site and deployed to await the
British advance. Though markedly inferior in firepower, Arnold's fleet
fought a valiant and effective action all day long, then slipped
through the British line after dark. A running battle took place over
the next 2 days, and resulted in the loss of all but five of the
American ships. ENTERPRISE and four others escaped to Crown Point, then
sailed on to Ticonderoga. A tactical defeat, Valcour Island was
nevertheless a great strategic victory for the Americans.
Arnold and his little fleet so disrupted the British invasion into New
York that it was nearly a year before the advance could be renewed. In
that interval American troops were recruited and trained, and on 17
October 17771 under General Horatio Gates, defeated the British
decisively at Saratoga, N.Y. This victory was a primary factor in
bringing about the alliance with France, and bringing the powerful
French navy to the aid of the colonies.
During the British advance prior to the Battle of Saratoga, ENTERPRISE
was one of five vessels assigned to duty convoying bateaux in the
evacuation of Ticonderoga. The small American force was no match for
the British fleet on Lake Champlain, and after two ships had been
captured, ENTERPRISE and the other two were run aground on 7 July 1777,
and burned to prevent their capture.
The second ENTERPRISE. a schooner, was a successful letter-of-marque
before she was purchased on 20 December 1776 for the Continental Navy.
Commanded by Captain Joseph Campbell, ENTERPRISE operated principally
in Chesapeake Bay. She convoyed transports, carried out reconnaissance,
and guarded the shores against foraging raids by the British. Only
meager records of her service have been found; they indicate that she
was apparently returned to the Maryland Council of Safety before the
end of February 1777.
The third ENTERPRISE, a schooner, was built by Henry Spencer at
Baltimore, Md., in 1799, and placed under the command of Lieutenant
On 17 December 1799, ENTERPRISE departed the Delaware Capes for the
Caribbean to protect United States merchantmen from the depredations of
French privateers during the Quasi-War with France. Within the
following year, ENTERPRISE captured 8 privateers and liberated 11
American vessels from captivity, achieve-ments which assured her
inclusion in the 14 ships retained in the Navy after The Quasi-War.
ENTERPRISE next sailed to the Mediterranean, raising Gibraltar on 26
June 1801, where she was to join other U.S. warships in writing a
bright and enduring page in American naval history. ENTERPRISE's first
action came on 1 August 1801 when, just west of Malta, she defeated the
14-gun Tripolitan corsair Tripoli, after a fierce but one-sided battle.
Unscathed, ENTERPRISE sent the battered pirate into port since the
schooner's orders pro-hibited taking prizes.
Her next victories came in 1803 after months of carrying despatches,
convoying merchantmen, and patrolling the Mediterranean. On 17 January,
she captured Paulina, a Tunisian ship under charter to the Bashaw of
Tripoli, and on 22 May she ran a 30-ton craft ashore on the coast of
Tripoli. For the next month ENTERPRISE and other ships of the squadron
cruised inshore, bombarding the coast and sending landing parties to
destroy enemy small craft.
On 23 December 1803, after a quiet interval of cruising, ENTERPRISE
joined with frigate Constitution to cap-ture the Tripolitan ketch
Mastico. Refitted and renamed Intrepid, the ketch was given to
ENTERPRISE's command-ing officer, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr., for
use in a daring expedition to burn frigate Philadelphia, captured by
the Tripolitans and anchored in the harbor of Tripoli. Decatur and his
volunteer crew carried out their mission perfectly, destroying the
frigate and depriving Tripoli of a powerful warship. ENTERPRISE
continued to patrol the Barbary Coast until July 1804 when she joined
the other ships of the squadron in general attacks on the city of
Tripoli over a period of several weeks.
ENTERPRISE passed the winter in Venice where she was practically
rebuilt by May 1805. She rejoined her squadron in July and resumed
patrol and convoy duty until August of 1807. During that period she
fought (15 August 1806) a brief engagement off Gibraltar with a group
of Spanish gunboats who attacked her but were driven off. ENTERPRISE
returned to the United States in late 1807, and cruised coastal waters
until June 1809. After a brief tour in the Mediterranean, she sailed to
New York where she was laid up for nearly a year.
Repaired at the Washington Navy Yard, ENTERPRISE was recommissioned
there in April 1811, then sailed for operations out of Savannah, Ga.
and Charleston, S.C. She returned to Washington on 2 October and was
hauled out of the water for extensive repairs and modi-fications: when
she sailed on 20 May 1812, she had been rerigged as a brig.
At sea when war was declared on Great Britain, she cruised along the
east coast during the first year of hostilities. On 5 September 1813,
ENTERPRISE sighted and chased HBM Brig Boxer. The brigs opened fire on
each other, and in a closely fought, fierce and gallant action which
took the lives of both commanding officers, ENTERPRISE captured Boxer
and took her into nearby Portland, Maine. Here a common funeral was
held for Lieutenant William Burrows, ENTERPRISE, and Captain Samuel
Elyth, Boxer, both well-known and highly respected in their services.
After repairing at Portland, ENTERPRISE sailed in com-pany with brig
Rattlesnake, for the Caribbean. The two ships took three prizes before
being forced to separate by a heavily armed ship on 25 February 1814.
ENTERPRISE was compelled to jettison most of her guns in order to
outsail her superior antagonist. The brig reached Wilmington, N,C., on
9 March 1814, then passed the remainder of the war as a guardship off
ENTERPRISE served one more short tour in the Medi-terranean
(July-November 1815), then cruised the northeastern seaboard until
November 1817. Front that time on she sailed the Caribbean and the Gulf
of Mexico, suppressing pirates, smugglers, and slaves; in this duty she
took 13 prizes. Her long career ended on 9 July 1823, when, without
injury to her crew, she stranded and broke up on Little Curacao Island
in the West Indies.
The fourth ENTERPRISE, a schooner, was launched by the New York Navy
Yard on 26 October 1831. and commissioned 15 December 1831, Lieutenant
S. W. Downing in command. ENTERPRISE sailed on 12 January 1832 for
South America where she patrolled the Brazil Station guarding United
States' interests until April of 1834. Return-ing to New York at that
time, she repaired and refitted until July when she departed again for
Ten months later she joined sloop Peacock for a cruise to the Far East
by way of Africa, 1ndia and the East Indies. Continuing eastward,
ENTERPRISE called at Honolulu, Hawaii, in September of 1836, then
proceeded to the west coast of Mexico, arriving at Mazatlan 28 October
1836. She cruised the west coast of South America until March of 1839
when she departed Valparaiso, Chile to round the Horn, call at Rio de
Janeiro, and sail on to Philadelphia. Here she was inactivated on 12
ENTERPRISE was recommissioned 29 November 1839 and on 16 March 1840,
sailed from New York for South America. After 4 years of protecting
U.S. commerce on this station, she turned north for home. On 20 June
1844, ENTERPRISE entered the Boston Navy Yard and 4 days later was
decommissioned for the last time. She was sold 28 October 1844.
The fifth ENTERPRISE, a bark-rigged screw sloop-of-war, was launched 13
June 1874 at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, by John W. Griffith,
a private contractor; and commissioned 16 March 1877, Commander G. C.
Remey in command.
ENTERPRISE's first duty after fitting out at Norfolk, Va., took her to
the mouth of the Mississippi River for surveying operations. Returning
to Norfolk in April 1878, she remained there only briefly, sailing 27
May for surveying duty up the Amazon and Madeira Rivers. This
completed, she repaired at New York, then (December 1878) joined the
U.S. naval forces in European waters, calling at numerous ports in
northern Europe and in the Mediterranean. She returned to the
Wash-ington Navy Yard on 9 May 1880 and was placed out of commission.
Recommissioned on 12 January 1882, she cruised the east coast until 1
January 1883 when she sailed on a 8-year hydrographic survey that took
her completely around the world. Her findings on this cruise added
materially to the knowledge of the oceans, their currents, and their
bottoms. ENTERPRISE was decommis-sioned at New York on 21 March 1886.
Placed back in commission on 4 October 1887, ENTERPRISE sailed from
Boston in January 1888 for 2 years in the waters of Europe, the
Mediterranean, and the east coast of Africa, where she showed the flag
and looked out for United States' interests. She returned to New York
in March 1890 and was decommissioned on 20 May.
ENTERPRISE was again commissioned 8 July 1890, and for the next year
operated principally in the Caribbean. From September 1891 until
September 1892, she served as training and practice ship at the U.S.
Naval Acad-emy, Annapolis, Md. On 17 October 1892 at Boston, she was
lent to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for duty as a maritime school
ship. In that capacity she trained cadets for some 17 years. Returned
to the Navy on 4 May 1909, ENTERPRISE was sold on 1 October 1909.
The sixth ENTERPRISE, a motorboat, served in a noncommissioned status
in the 2d Naval District during World War I.
The seventh ENTERPRISE (CV-6) was launched 3 October 1936 by Newport
News Shipbuilding and Co., Newport News, Va.; sponsored by Mrs. Claude
A. Swanson, wife of the Secretary of the Navy: and commissioned 12 May
1938, Captain N. H. White in command.
ENTERPRISE sailed south on a shakedown cruise which took her to Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil. After her return she operated along the east coast and
in the Caribbean until -April of 1939 when she was ordered to duty in
the Pacific. Based first on San Diego and then on Pearl Harbor, the
carrier trained herself and her aircraft squadrons for any eventuality,
and carried aircraft among the island bases of the Pacific. ENTERPRISE
had just completed one such mission, delivering Marine Corps Fighter
Squadron 211 to Wake Island on 2 De-cember 1941, and was en route to
Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
ENTERPRISE scout planes arrived over Pearl Harbor during the attack
and, though surprised, immediately went into action in defense of the
naval base. The carrier, meanwhile, assembled her remaining aircraft in
a fruitless search for the Japanese striking force. ENTERPRISE put into
Pearl Harbor for fuel and supplies on -- December and sailed early the
next morning to patrol against possible additional attacks on the
Hawaiian Islands. While the group did not encounter any surface ships,
ENTERPRISE aircraft scored a kilt by sinking submarine I-170 in 23'45'
N., 155'35' W., on 10 December-1941.
During the last 2 weeks of December 1941, ENTERPRISE and her group
steamed to the westward of Hawaii to cover those islands while two
other carrier groups made a belated attempt to relieve Wake Island.
After a brief rest at Pearl Harbor, the ENTERPRISE group sailed on 11
January to protect convoys reinforcing Samoa. On 1 February, the task
force dealt a hard blow to Kwajalein, Wotje, and Maloelap in the
Marshall Islands, si-nking three ships, damaging eight, and destroying
numerous airplanes and ground facilities. ENTERPRISE received only
minor damage in the Japanese counterattack, as her force retired to
During the next month ENTERPRISE's force swept the central Pacific,
blasting enemy installations on Wake and Marcus Islands. then received
minor alterations and repairs at Pearl Harbor. On 8 April 1942, she
departed to rendezvous with Hornet (CV-8) and sail westward to launch
16 Army B-25 bombers in a raid on Tokyo. While ENTERPRISE fighters flew
combat air patrol, the B-25s roared into the air on 18 April and raced
undetected the 600 miles to their target. The task force, its presence
known to the enemy, reversed course and returned to Pearl Harbor on 25
Five days later, the "Big E" was speeding toward the South Pacific to
reinforce the U.S. carriers operating in the Coral Sea. Distance proved
too great to conquer in time, and the Battle of the Coral Sea was
history before ENTERPRISE could reach her destination. Ordered back to
Hawaii, the carrier entered Pearl Harbor on 26 May and began intensive
preparations to meet the expected Japa-nese thrust at Midway Island.
Two days later she sortied as flagship of Rear Admiral Raymond A.
Spruance, CTF-16, with orders "to hold Midway and inflict maximum
damage on the enemy by strong attrition tac-tics." With ENTERPRISE in
TF 16 were Hornet, 6 cruisers, and 10 destroyers. On 30 May, TF 17,
Rear Admiral Frank J. Fletcher in Yorktown (CV-5), with two cruisers,
and six destroyers, sailed to support TF 16; as senior officer, Rear
Admiral Fletcher became "Officer in Tactical Command."
Battle was joined on the morning of 4 June 1942 when four Japanese
carriers, unaware of the presence of U.S. forces, launched attacks on
Midway Island. Just 3 hours after the first bomb fell on Midway, planes
from Hornet struck the enemy force, and 30 minutes later ENTERPRISE and
Yorktown aircraft streaked in to join in smashing the Japanese
Each side hurled attacks at the other during the day in one of
history's most decisive battles. Though the forces were in contact to 7
June, by the end of the 4th the outcome had been decided and the tide
of the war in the Pacific had been turned in the United States' favor.
Yorktown and Hammann (DD 412) were the only United States ships sunk,
but TFs 16 and 17 lost a total of 113 planes, 61 of them in combat,
during the battle. Japanese losses, far more severe, consisted of 4
carriers, 1 cruiser, and 272 carrier aircraft. ENTERPRISE and all other
ships of TFs 16 and 17 came through undamaged, returning to Pearl
Harbor on 13 June 1942.
After a month of rest and overhaul, ENTERPRISE sailed on 15 July for
the South Pacific where she joined TF 61 to support the amphibious
landings in the Solomon Islands on 8 August. For the next 2 weeks, the
carrier and her planes guarded seaborne communication lines southwest
of the Solomons. On 24 August a strong Japanese force was sighted some
200 miles north of Guadalcanal and TF 61 sent planes to the attack. An
enemy light carrier was sent to the bottom and the Japanese troops
intended for Guadalcanal were forced back.
ENTERPRISE suffered most heavily of the United States ships, 3 direct
hits and 4 near misses killed 74, wounded 95, and inflicted serious
damage on the carrier. But well-trained damage control parties, and
quick, hard work patched her up so that she was able to return to
Hawaii under her own power.
Repaired at Pearl Harbor from 10 September to 16 October, ENTERPRISE
departed once more for the South Pacific where with Hornet, she formed
TF-61. On 26 October, ENTERPRISE scout planes located a Japanese
carrier force and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Island was underway.
ENTERPRISE aircraft struck carriers, battleships, and cruisers during
the struggle, while the "Big E" herself underwent intensive attack. Hit
twice by bombs, ENTERPRISE lost 44 killed and had 75 wounded.
Despite serious damage, she continued in action and took on board a
large number of planes from Hornet when that carrier had to be
abandoned. Though the American losses of a carrier and a destroyer were
more severe than the Japanese loss of one light cruiser, the battle
gained priceless time to reinforce Guadalcanal against the next enemy
ENTERPRISE entered Noumea, New Caledonia, on 30 October for repairs,
but a new Japanese thrust at the Solomons demanded her presence and she
sailed on 11 November, repair crews from Vestal (AR-4) still on board,
working vigorously. Two days later, "Big E" planes swarmed down on an
enemy force and disabled a battleship which was sunk later by other
American aircraft, and on 14 November, aviators from ENTERPRISE helped
to despatch a heavy cruiser. When the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal ended
on 15 November 1942, ENTERPRISE had shared in sinking 16 ships and
damaging 8 more. The carrier returned to Noumea on 16 Novem-ber to
complete her repairs.
Sailing again on 4 December. ENTERPRISE trained out of Espiritu Santo,
New Hebrides, until 28 January 1943 when she departed for the Solomons
area. On 30 Janu-ary her fighters flew combat air patrol for a cruiser-
destroyer group during the Battle of Rennell Island. Despite the
destruction of a large majority of the attack-ing Japanese bombers by
ENTERPRISE planes, Chicago (CA-29) was sunk by aerial torpedoes.
Detached after the battle, the carrier arrived at Espiritu Santo on 1
February, and for the next 3 months operated out of that base, covering
U.S. surface forces up to the Solomons. ENTERPRISE then steamed to
Pearl Harbor where, on 27 May 1943, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz presented
the ship with the first Presidential Unit Citation won by an aircraft
carrier. On 20 July 1943 she entered Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton,
Wa., for a much -needed overhaul.
Back in action waters by mid-November, ENTERPRISE joined in providing
close air support to the Marines landing on Makin Island, from 19 to 21
November. On the night of 26 November 1943, the "Big E" introduced
carrier-based night fighter operations in the Pacific when a
three-plane team from the ship broke up a large group of land-based
bombers attacking TG 50.2. After a heavy strike by aircraft of TF 50
against Kwajalein on 4 December, ENTERPRISE returned to Pearl Harbor 5
The carrier's next operation was with TF 58 in softening up the
Marshall Islands and supporting the landings on Kwajalein, from 29
January to 3 February. Then ENTERPRISE sailed, still with TF 58, to
strike the Japanese naval base at Truk in the Caroline Islands, on 17
February. Again the "Big E" made aviation history when she launched the
first night radar bombing attack from any U.S. carrier. The 12 torpedo
bombers in this strike achieved excellent results, accounting for
nearly one-third of the 200,000 tons of shipping destroyed by the
aircraft of the task force.
Detached from TF 58, ENTERPRISE launched raids on Jaluit Atoll on 20
February, then steamed to Majuro and Espiritu Santo. Sailing 15 March
in TG 36.1, she pro-vided air cover and close support for the landings
on Emirau Island (19-25 March). The carrier rejoined TF 58 on 26 March
and for the next 12 days joined in the series of hard-hitting strikes
against the Yap, Ulithi, Woleai, and the Palau Islands. After a week's
rest and replenishment at Majuro. ENTERPRISE sailed (14 April) to
support landings in the Hollandia area of New Guinea. and then hit Truk
again (29-30 April).
On 6 June 1944, the "Big E" and her companions of TG 58.3 sortied from
Majuro to strike with the rest of TF 58, the Mariana Islands. Blasting
Saipan, Rota, and Guam between 11 and 14 June, ENTERPRISE pilots gave
direct support to the landings on Saipan on 15 June, and covered the
troops ashore for the next 2 days.
Aware of a major Japanese attempt to break up the invasion of Saipan,
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Commander 5th Fleet, positioned TF 58 to
meet the thrust.
On 19 June 1944 took place the greatest carrier aircraft battle in
history. For over 8 hours airmen of the United States and Imperial
Japanese navies fought in the skies over TF 58 and the Marianas. By the
end of the day, a United States victory was apparent. and at the
conclu-sion of the strikes against the Japanese fleet on 20 June, the
triumph became complete. Six American ships had been damaged, and 130
planes and a total of 76 pilots and aircrewmen had been lost. But with
a major assist from U.S. submarines, 8 Japanese carriers were sunk, and
426 ship-based aircraft were destroyed. Japanese naval aviation never
recovered from this blow.
The Battle of the Philippine Sea over, ENTERPRISE and her companions
continued to support the Saipan campaign through 5 July. ENTERPRISE
then sailed for Pearl Harbor and a month of rest and overhaul. Back in
action waters on 24 August, the carrier sailed with TF 38 in that
force's aerial assault on the Volcano and Bonin Islands from 31 August
to 2 September, and Yap, Ulithi, and the Palaus from 6 to 8 September.
After operating west of the Palau Islands, the "Big E" joined other
units of TF 38 on 7 October, and shaped course to the northward. From
10 to 20 October, her aviators roared over Okinawa, Formosa, and the
Philippines, blasting enemy airfields, shore installations, and
shipping in preparation for the assault on Leyte. After supporting the
Leyte landings on 20 October, ENTERPRISE headed for Ulithi to replenish
but the approach of the Japanese fleet on 23 October brought her racing
back into action.
In the Battle for Leyte Gulf (23-26 Oc-tober), ENTERPRISE planes struck
all three groups of enemy forces, battering battleships and destroyers
be-fore the action ended. The carrier remained on patrol east of Samar
and Leyte until the end of October, then retired to Ulithi for
supplies. During November, her aircraft struck targets in the Manila
area, and the island of Yap. The "Big E" returned to Pearl Harbor on 6
Sailing 24 December for the Philippine area, Enter-prise carried on
board an air group specially trained in night carrier operations. She
joined TG 38.5 and swept the waters north of Luzon and of the China Sea
during January of 1945, striking shore targets and shipping from
Formosa to Indo-China. After a brief visit to Ulithi, the "Big E"
joined TG 58.5 on 10 February 1945, and provided day and night combat
air patrol for TF 58 as it struck Tokyo on 16 and 17 February. She then
supported the Marines on Iwo Jima from the day of the landings, 10
February, until 9 March when she sailed for Ulithi.
During one part of that period, ENTERPRISE kept aircraft aloft
continuously over Iwo Jima for 174 hours. Departing Ulithi 15 March,
the carrier continued her night work in raids against Kyushu, Honshu,
and shipping in the Inland Sea of Japan. Damaged lightly by an enemy
bomb on 18 March, ENTERPRISE entered Ulithi 6 days later for repairs.
Back in action on 5 April, she supported the Okinawa operation until
again damaged (11 April), this time by a suicide plane, and forced back
to Ulithi. Off Okinawa once more on 6 May, ENTERPRISE flew patrols
around the clock as the menace of the kamikaze increased. On 14
May1945, the "Big E" suffered her last wound of World War II when a
suicide plane destroyed her forward elevator, killing 14 and wounding
34 men. The carrier sailed for repairs at the Puget Sound Navy Yard,
arriving 7 June 1945.
Restored to peak condition, ENTERPRISE voyaged to Pearl Harbor
returning to the States with some 1,100 servicemen due for discharge,
then sailed on to New York, arriving 17 October 1945. Two weeks later
she proceeded to Boston for installation of additional berth-ing
facilities, then began a series of "Magic Carpet" voyages to Europe,
bringing more than 10,000 veterans home in her final service to her
country. ENTERPRISE entered the New York Naval Shipyard on 18 January
1946 for inactivation, and was decommissioned on 17 February 1947. The
"Big E" was sold on 1 July 1958.
In addition to her Presidential Unit Citation, ENTERPRISE received the
Navy Unit Commendation and 20 battle stars for World War II service.
The eighth ENTERPRISE (CVA(N) 65), the world's first nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier, was launched 24 September 1960 by Newport News
Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Va.; sponsored by Mrs. W.
B. Franke, wife of the Secretary of the Navy; and commis-sioned 25
November 1961, Captain V. P. de Poix, in command.
After commissioning, ENTERPRISE began a lengthy series of tests and
training exercises, designed to determine the full capabilities of the
nuclear-powered air-craft carrier. Immediately her superlative
characteris-tics and performance became obvious. She began flight
operations on 17 January 1962 when an F8U Crusader became the first
airplane to land on board her giant flight deck. The same aircraft
later became the first plane to be catapulted from ENTERPRISE.
One month later, on 20 February 1962, the nuclear-powered carrier
played a role in the space age when ENTERPRISE acted as a tracking and
measuring station for the epochal flight of Friendship 7, the "Project
Mercury" space capsule in which Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn. Jr.,
USMC, made the United States' first orbital space flight. The career of
the eighth ENTERPRISE had started well.