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The USS Enterprise underway.

The USS Enterprise (CV-6) was a Yorktown class aircraft carrier and the sixth aircraft carrier fielded by the United States Navy. The Enterprise was the most decorated ship of World War II and participated in twenty battles during the War in the Pacific, including Midway, Guadalcanal, and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.


Construction of USS Enterprise was authorized on June 16 1933, and the ship was laid down on July 16 1934.[1] She was launched on October 3, 1936 and commissioned 2 years later on May 12, 1938 at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.[N 1] Luile Swanson - the wife of the Secretary of the Navy Claude A. Swanson - sponsored the building of the Enterprise, which is believed to have cost $25,000,000 to build.[2] Soon after the launch, USS Enterprise went south on a shakedown cruise off the coast of South America, which took her to Rio de Janeiro. After her shakedown cruise she returned to Newsport News and continued to operate in the Atlantic and Caribbean until April of 1939. The Enterprise was then ordered to the Pacific.

One of the first units assigned to Enterprise was VF-6, equipped with F4F Wildcats, which began operating during the early months of 1942.[3] Following the Japanese Expansion in the Far East, the Enterprise was stationed at Pearl Harbor until the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral Kemmel sent the Enterprise, Lexington, & Saratoga to deliver Fighter Squadrons to Wake Island & Midway Island.

Pearl Harbor

December 6, 1941: As the Enterprise was returning from the fighter delivery she was 300 miles from Pearl Harbor, the carrier was due back that day, but mother nature intervenes and the Enterprise and her task force run into a storm. The ship and the task force had to slow down because the Destroyers were using up a lot of fuel. On the morning of December 7, the Enterprise launches her 18 Dauntless Scout Bombers despite the storm on a reconnaissance mission to Pearl Harbor.

Some time after the Attack on Pearl Harbor began, the "Big E" received a message from Pearl stating "Pearl Harbor under Attack. This is no Drill." the carrier goes to General Quarters (Battle Stations). When Admiral Halsey gets the news he just finished breakfast and started his second cup of Coffee.

The Enterprise steams into her home port of Pearl Harbor on the evening of Dec. 8, 1941, roughly 32 hours after the attack. The crew was shocked to see the devastation of the Harbor, after the ship is docked Admiral Halsey orders every able body man officer and enlisted men alike to refuel and re-provision the "Big E", a job that took normally 16 hours, but the men get it done in 7 hours.

On December 10, the Enterprise is on patrol near the Hawaiian Islands and one dive bomber pilots from Scouting Squadron 6 spots a enemy submarine.


Enterprise measured 810 ft in length and displaced 19,900 tons. Top speed was 30 knots,[N 2] and accommodation was available for 90 aircraft.[1]



  1. Enterprise was not actually completed until at least 18 July 1938 - and possibly later - due to serious mechanical defects, involving replacement of the reduction gearing and over 1,200 boiler tubes.[2]
  2. Enterprise reportedly exceeded 34 knots during her sea trials.[2] which took place in late 1937 and early 1938.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gunston, Bill (Forward). Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Tiger Books. 1989. ISBN 1-85501-996-5. (Reprint of Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1945/1946. Bridgeman, Leonard (Editor). 1946). Page 58.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 McMurtrie, Francis E. (Editor) Jane's Fighting Ships of World War 2. Tiger Books International. ISBN 0517679639 1998. Page 268
  3. Green, William. Famous Fighters of the Second World War. Purnell Book Services. 1975. Pages 244/246.
  4. Ireland, Bernard. Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Carriers of the world. Arness Publishing Ltd. 2012. ISBN 1 78019 217 7 Page 103
5. Stille, Mark. US Navy Aircraft Carriers 1922-45: Prewar classes. Osprey Publishing New Vanguard. Oct. 10, 2005. Pages 38-40.