NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The sun is setting on one of the most famous warships to ever serve in the U.S. Naval Fleet.
On Feb. 3, the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) will be officially decommissioned at the Newport News Shipyard, the same place where the ship was built decades ago.
On December 1, 2012, the USS Enterprise was inactivated at Naval Station Norfolk less than a month after returning from her final deployment, marking her 25th and final homecoming after 51 years of service.
In June 2013, the USS Enterprise made her final voyage, transiting from Naval Station Norfolk to the Newport News Shipyard where the ship has spent the past several years having nuclear fuel removed from its eight nuclear reactors.
The USS Enterprise, nicknamed the Big 'E,' was a revolutionary ship in every way when she was commissioned in 1961.
The first, and only, ship of its class, the USS Enterprise was the world's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier. At the time, the Enterprise was also the longest ship in the world, at more than 1,100 feet.
With deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, Pacific Ocean and the Middle East, Enterprise served in nearly every major conflict to take place during her history.
From the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, to six deployments in support of the Vietnam conflict, through the Cold War and the Gulf Wars, Enterprise served nobly.
In September 1974, the Big 'E' became the first carrier to deploy the F-14 Tomcat, which would remain the preeminent Navy fighter jet for years to come.
The USS Enterprise was also the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal.
On September 11, 2001, Enterprise aborted her transit home from a long deployment after the terrorist attacks, and traveled overnight to the North Arabian Sea. Big 'E' once again took her place in history when she launched the first strikes in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
CVN 65 is the eighth ship to bear the name USS Enterprise and the name will live on, with CVN 80, which will also be built at the Newport News Shipyard.