Home - Search - Site Map

USS Enterprise CV-6
The Most Decorated Ship of the Second World War

Home > News & Bulletins >

Courageous 'Big E' Faces Last Enemy

NEW YORK (UPI) - Any day now, a rust-tinged gray ghost of a ship that many regard as the fightingest thing ever to float, will be tugged from her berth for a date with oblivion.

The fabled "Big E" that roamed the Pacific like the wrath of an aroused nation against the enemy in World War II will glide across still waters to face her last enemy - the scrapper's torch.

Carrier Enterprise Sold 'For Scrap Only'

The 20,000 tons of courage, luck, and easy-going greatness that the Japanese tried desperately to destroy through four years of agonizing warfare has been sold to a wrecker for $561,333. The sale contract specifies "for scrap only." This will be, surely, one of the noblest and saddest piles of scrap in history.

Her name is Enterprise. Adm. Bill Halsey, who was ramming her hell-bent toward Hawaii even as the Japanese planes came out of the dawn to waken Pearl Harbor, called her "The Galloping Ghost of the Oahu Coast." To fighting men, she was the Big E.

Santa Cruz Island Engagement Recalled

As the wrecker's acytelene flames bites into the plates of her hangar deck, maybe someone will remember what once was written there. The occasion was the Santa Cruz Island fight, when the Enterprise flew Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid's flag early in the war. She took hits fore and aft and saw her sister aircraft carrier Hornet fatally hit.

With the Hornet lost that night, the entire U. S. carrier air power in the Pacific was just, as Kinkaid said, "one battered old carrier - the Enterprise." Somebody chalked foot-high letters on the deck: "The Enterprise Against Japan." Crippled, patched, defiant, she steamed 20 days later into the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Farewell to the 'Big E'

Several thousand American homes must have been saddened yesterday morning when the newspapers were opened or the television turned on and there were the pictures of the carrier Enterprise being towed to the scrap yard. In those homes fathers and mothers, wives, sisters or brothers, when asked where the son or husband was serving, had drawn themselves up an extra inch or two and replied proudly, "Oh, he's on the Big E."

Even in her lifetime this flagship of Admiral Halsey, "the one-ship Pacific Fleet," was a legend. She had twenty battle stars. She accounted for more than 900 enemy planes and 250 enemy vessels. She was the "fightingest" carrier of them all. Now she is part of the great Navy tradition. Her name is reverently coupled with the other immortals. But her end was inevitable. She had become obsolete. Efforts to preserve her as a national shrine had been unsuccessful.

There is, fortunately, another side to this sorrowful picture of the gallant fighter going to what may seem an ignominious end. Big E was just as good, and only as good, as the men who fought her. Her flight deck was alive because there were men to fly. Her guns spoke because there were men to load and fire. Her engines carried her through because men oiled and wiped and watched the gauges - and sweat it out when the Kamikazies struck at Okinawa. She was the terror of the enemy - they reported her sunk seven times - because men could plan and give the order to strike.

Yes, Big E is obsolete. But the sort of fighting men who rode her do not become obsolete. There is the same need for them now as there was then. Courage, skill, endurance, devotion and imagination do not go the scrap yard. The spirit of Big E still sails.

These articles are property and copyright of their owners and are provided here for educational purposes only.

Image Library - Action Reports and Logs - News Stories
Message Boards - Bookstore - Enterprise CV-6 Association

Copyright © 1998-2003 Joel Shepherd (webmaster@cv6.org)
Sources and Credits
Hosted in Santa Barbara