Carrier turns donor: USS Enterprise gives anchor to USS Lincoln

Story highlights

Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in shipyard to have nuclear fuel removed

USS Abraham Lincoln, in shipyard for overhaul, needed a new anchor

30-ton, five-decade-old anchor from Enterprise is installed on the Lincoln

CNN  — 

The U.S. Navy’s oldest nuclear aircraft carrier has given a piece of itself to one of the younger carriers in the fleet.

Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding said this week that its workers had transferred an anchor from the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the Navy’s first and oldest nuclear carrier, to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), a Nimitz-class carrier launched in 1988.

The Enterprise, which was launched in 1960, was inactivated in 2012 and is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2016. Once its nuclear fuel and reactors are removed, it will be cut up for scrap. It has been at the Virginia shipyard for the de-fueling process.

The Lincoln is in the same shipyard for what is called a refueling and complex overhaul. “During this multi-year process, every inch of the carrier is updated or refurbished, including its two massive anchors,” the shipyard said in a statement.

When it was found that one of the Lincoln’s 30-ton anchors needed to be replaced, crews turned to the Enterprise, which had an exact match that would have been headed to the scrap heap with the rest of the five-decade-old ship.

“With this anchor, both ships will be linked, and Lincoln will carry Enterprise’s spirit as it returns to the fleet,” Chris Miner, Newport News’ vice president of in-service aircraft carrier programs, said in a statement.

That anchor move may assuage some Navy enthusiasts, who have pushed for a new Navy vessel to carry the name Enterprise once the current ship finally leaves the fleet. The carrier now docked in Newport News is the eighth American warship to carry the Enterprise name. The Naval Vessel Register, the service’s official list of ships, shows the Enterprise name assigned to hull number CVN-80, a proposed aircraft carrier yet to be authorized or funded by Congress.

The Lincoln’s overhaul is expected to be complete in 2016, when the ship is scheduled to head out for sea trials, according to a shipyard statement.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise will be towed down the East Coast and all the way around the tip of South America and up the Pacific Coast, with a final destination of Puget Sound, Washington. There its nuclear reactor will be removed and buried at a disposal site on the former Hanford nuclear production complex on the Columbia River.