The world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the 85,350-tons "USS Enterprise", was launched September 24 at Newport News, Virginia, by Mrs.
The world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the 85,350-tons "USS Enterprise", was launched September 24 at Newport News, Virginia, by Mrs. Franke wife of the United States Secretary of the Navy.
Due to her size - 1,101 feet long - the "Enterprise" was launched by flooding the specially build dock. Water pouring in freed the carrier's keel blocks one by one, causing letters in name on bow to be illuminated simultaneously. As the final "E" lit up, Mrs. Franke smashed a giant sized bottle of champagne against the prow, and the world's largest ship was afloat and christened.
Adding a further drama to the launching, a test-water salute was 'fired' from a Polaris missile launcher of the USS Submarine 'Robert E. Lee' in a graving dock adjacent to the 'Enterprise'.
Due to join the fleet sometime in 1961, the "Enterprise" will have a crew of more than 3,000, in addition to about 1,500 flying and maintenance men for the aircraft she will carry. Admiral Burke, Chief of US Naval Operations, said the vessel's eight nuclear reactors would enable it to cruise 20 times around the world at high speed without refuelling. Combined, the eight reactors from the most powerful atomic power plant ashore or afloat. It produces horse-power rated at "over 200,000" driving the ship at speeds of "over 30 knots".
With an escort of nuclear-powered surface ships and submarines, the "Enterprise" will be the basis of a mobile deterrent force able to cruise almost endlessly. Some of her aircraft will fly at twice the speed of sound, and be capable of carrying nuclear weapons.