Posted by: Waring Hills | 12 May 2011

USS Enterprise, CV-6, Commissioned 1938

(Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)

“Sleep softly my old love, my beauty in the dark, night is a dream we have, as you know as you know…”

M. S. Merwin

USS Enterprise, CV-6, was commissioned at Newport News, Virginia, on 12 May 1938.  She was a Yorktown class carrier and would be one of  only two prewar carriers to survive World War II.  Enterprise also became the most decorated carrier of World War II with 20 battle stars  and a Presidential Unit Citation.  She was involved in every major battle except two.  The “Big E”s  planes and guns shot down 911 enemy planes and her air wing sank 71 ships, damaged and/or destroyed 192 more vessels.

Enterprise with SBD Dauntless aircraft chocked and chained in foreground with Hornet in sight heading towards Japan to launch the Doolittle Raiders, April 1942. (Photo: William T. Barr)

(Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)

Only two prewar carriers survived the war, Enterprise and Saratoga, but Saratoga was sacrificed to the atomic gods at Bikini. 

(Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)

Enterprise would be mothballed after the war and remained in the reserve fleet, being re-designated CVA-6 and then CVS-6 in the 1950’s. A major attempt to save her as a museum ship was made by the Enterprise Association with the help of Fleet Admiral “Bull” Halsey, but their efforts could not raise the required levels of monetary support.  The nation lost her national treasure and most  decorated ship on 01 July 1958 with the “Big E” sold as scrap metal.

Here’s a clip from the movie “Dive Bomber” showing the Enterprise and her air group in action in 1940 and early 1941.



  1. Of all the ships to serve in our navy possibly only the Constitution was more deserving of being preserved as a memorial.

    Her bell is prominently displayed in front of Bancroft Hall at the US Naval Academy, where it is rung to recognize football victories.


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