There was a time when USS Enterprise was the most famous ship in the world. It still is, but these days, most people think of the fictional starship rather than the world’s first nuclear-powered carrier. The real USS Enterprise was commissioned in 1961, which means that its long career of service must soon draw to a close. In April 2008, a $453.3 million contract covered the ship’s Extended Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability for maintenance and upgrades – but reached over $660 million before all was said and done, and took 2 years.
That kept “the Big E” going for a couple more years, but it could only delay the inevitable. 2012 saw the ship’s last mission come to an end, and by 2014, USS Enterprise is scheduled to fade into history, to be replaced by the first ship [CVN 78] of the Gerald R. Ford Class. This time, there will be no reruns or syndication deals. When the end comes, plans and facilities for permanently decommissioning the ship and dealing with its A2W nuclear reactors will need to be ready.