USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was officially deactivated at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia on 1 December 2012. The task of safely disposing of more than 62,000-tonnes of steel and aluminium and eight nuclear reactors could take as long as eight years.Enterprise will remain at Norfolk for around six months for all her spent fuel to be removed, after which she will be moved to Newport News. During the inactivation phase, all her hydraulic systems will be drained and expendable materials, spare parts and furnishings removed. Tanks containing oil and other fluids will also be cleaned, and hazardous material removed, in a process expected to take four years.

Following inactivation, the hulk will be towed via Cape Horn to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton for the removal of her nuclear plant. The unique facility has previously dealt with the radioactive reactors from 114 other decommissioned US Navy nuclear-powered vessels. All are buried in a trench at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

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