The U.S.S. Enterprise is being retired after 50 years of active service--the longest of any ship in the Navy. (The U.S.S. Constitution has served longer, but not in an active duty role). From Fox News:
The Enterprise is heading to the Middle East on its seven-month deployment, where it will be on standby in case of conflict with Iran or piracy threats off Somalia, among other things. The ship has experience with both scenarios, participating in a retaliatory strike against Iran for mining the Arabian Gulf in 1988 and responding last year to the hijacking of a sailing vessel by Somali pirates, during which all four Americans on board were shot and killed.See also here for links to further articles about past ships named Enterprise.
The deployment will be the ship's 22nd. Following its return to Virginia in the fall, tens of thousands are expected to be on hand for a deactivation ceremony Dec. 1 ....
The following summer, Enterprise will be towed to the shipyard where it was built in nearby Newport News so its nuclear fuel can be removed, a process that will take until 2015. What remains of the ship after that will then be taken to Washington state so it can be scrapped.
The ship, among the first to respond after the Sept. 11 attacks, won't be turned into a museum like some other carriers. Crews have to cut large holes in the vessel to remove the nuclear fuel, and it would be too expensive to repair, said Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Self-Kyler, the Enterprise's public affairs officer.
Instead, many of the ship's alumni want another carrier to be named Enterprise in the future, which is not uncommon, she said.
This is the eighth ship to bear the name Enterprise, and there's a room on board dedicated as a museum to past incarnations. The preceding USS Enterprise was the most decorated ship in World War II, while the first Enterprise joined the U.S. fleet after it was captured from the British in 1775.