USS Enterprise has marked 50 years of service by completing work-up and qualification preparations for her 22nd and last deployment. During the course of the underway training period late last year, the aircraft carrier conducted 997 arrested landings as pilots from Carrier Air Wing One and 92 Fleet Replacement Squadron refreshed their skills on F-18E-Hornet, E-2C Hawkeye and C-2A Greyhound aircraft, qualifying 92 pilots and re-certifying the flight deck for frontline operations. The ‘Big E’, as she is affectionately known, will set off on her final mission in March 2012.
The carrier, a veteran of the Cuba Missile Crisis and six Vietnam deployments, is to be decommissioned in 2013. She will be deactivated at Newport News where all the nation’s nuclear-powered carriers have been built. The work to de-fuel her eight nuclear reactors is expected to take around two years after which her future remains uncertain.