(An Aerial view of Enterprise, 1945)
USS Enterprise – nicknamed the “Big E,” “Lucky E,” “The Grey Ghost”- is a Yorktown-class aircraft carrier launched in 1936. She was laid down July 16 1934 and launched on October 3 1936. She served in World War II gaining 20 battle stars, the most of any US ship during the war.
Enterprise was at sea the day of Pearl Harbor and received a radio messages reporting the port was under attack. She sent up her fighters – Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters – and put into Pearl Harbor for fuel and supplies. Her screening fighters were attacked by anti-aircraft defenses, but a pilot radioed in saying the planes were American and the attacks ceased. Three days later, Enterprise aircraft sank Japanese submarine I-70
Enterprise participated in the battle of Midway when American code breakers broke Japanese code for an attack on a airfield on Midway island. American carrier sent squadrons of torpedo and dive bombers to attack a fleet of Japanese ships, including four aircraft carriers. The Japanese task force was up against a small fleet of two American carriers and a few destroyers, cruisers and battleships. However, the Americans struck first. Torpedo bombers from the Enterprise reached the Japanese task force but scored no hits. Dive bombers from the Enterprise, USS Yorktown (Enterprise’s lead ship) struck next. The bombers scored hit leaving three of the four carrier ships ablaze. Within an hour of the battle, the only battle ready Japanese carrier Hiryu was left alone. Hiryu launched her planes and crippled the Yorktown, which was eventually sunk by a Japanese submarine while in tow. The Americans suffered the loss of USS Yorktown and 113 planes but the Japanese lost was far heavier. The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) lost four aircraft carriers, one cruiser and 272 aircraft.
Enterprise went on to gain 20 battle stars, and at one point, the only battle ready US carrier.
USS Enterprise vs The Imperial Japanese Navy
Class and Type of Ship: Yorktown-class Aircraft carrier
Commissioned: May 12, 1938
Decommissioned: February 17, 1947
Displacement: 19,800 tons (Standard), 32,060 (Full load)
Length: 824 feet 9 inches, 827 feet 5 inches (1942)
Beam: 109 feet 6 inches
Speed: 32.5 knots
Range: 12,500 nautical miles at 15 knots
Crew: 2,217 offices and enlisted