She is also referred to as the ‘The Lady in Gray’ or ‘The Big “E”‘. What follows are what I had written when I had Arion’s Home up way back in the day.
I reported on board the U.S.S Enterprise on August 26, no rx 1994 after a month of vacation. The Enterprise was moored in Portsmouth, buy Virginia, the shipyards. It was in the yards for a 5 year overhaul to upgrade many of the ships systems and to refuel the reactors as well. The Commanding Officer was Richard Naughton, who will later be known as Dick “The Storm Chaser” Naughton. He was a former A6-E Intruder pilot who did not like us nukes at all.
The ship was strewn with ventilation trunks and thick bundles of wires, and civilian shipyard workers were grinding the decks like there was no tomorrow, or time to sleep. There was dust, dirt and insulation everywhere. There were holes in the deck everywhere to lower various equipment to the bowels of the ship. If you were a neat freak you would have thought you were in hell. For most of us, regardless of the fact, it was our personal hell and was just as clean. If hell on earth was to be given a name it would be U.S.S Enterprise or the U.S.S Evil Rise as we would refer to her affectionately. When people would check on board for the first time we would say “Welcome to Hell. Shipmate. It only gets worse.”
I reported on board to the Reactor Training Division. We had 2 months to complete the pretraining prior to going to our respective divisions. The 2 months consisted of a review of the previous 2 years of school and a complete overview of all of the ships reactor and propulsion systems. I had to memorize many electrical and mechanical drawings. Aarrrgghhhh!! At the time we were still in the shipyards and we spent most of our time cleaning or rehab(ilitating)’ing a space. We were being “bitched” or pimped out to who ever needed help in their rehabbing projects. This made it a little bit difficult to actually do our job of the moment which was learn the ships systems. Needless to say there was a bit of bitterness and discontent in the newbies to the reactor department.
Eventually they kind of trained us and we were shipped to our respective divisions ready or not. I was shipped off to Reactor Controls Division 22 (RC 22). I was very fortunate to be apart of RC 22.
During my stay onboard the Enterprise I went through 3 Commanding Officers (CO’s).The first CO I had was Captain Richard Naughton. He was CO through the overhaul and then through the initial sea trials of the Enterprise. During my first year on board The Big “E” I saw the roughest seas that I would see in 4 years of sea travel. Captain Naughton had the pleasure of taking the Enterprise out on it’s initial sea trials after having been in the shipyards for 5 years. I’m sure this gave him some form of perverse pleasure. To take the flagship of the US Navy and test it at her limits to ensure it is ready for combat. That is an awesome responsibility. To test the “Lady in gray and not destroy her or her crew. (Is it starting to sound like Star Trek yet!!!) We began sea trials, of course, as luck would have it, during hurricane season.
I could see Captain Naughton standing on the bridge of the Enterprise with a maniacal gleam in his eye; staring intently at the storm front and saying “Ahead flank – Cavitate!!” and then unleashing a laugh that borders on insanity and parallels that of the best villain. I swear every time we went to sea he made a “Bee-line” for the nearest hurricane or storm front. I did not mind the incessant rocking of the ship, it helped rock me to sleep Many other people, however, ended up hurling themselves to sleep, and they weren’t drunk. Your surprised, yes, I know, a sailor puking that is not drunk. Seas sick sailors?? It should be an oxymoron. Sailors puking and not being drunk is not natural. I happened and only Captain “the Storm Chaser” Naughton. I never thought waves would ever wash over the flight deck and the spray topping the Island. I instilled a sense of mortality and awe. It showed how powerful the forces of nature were and how, if anything were to go horribly wrong, how dead we would all be. Swallowed by the lightless depths never top be heard from. Victims of the storm. (Sorry! Flashbacks to my days on the Titanic!)
I was in Damage Control Central getting an oral board from the Reactor Officer, Captain.. There were monitors there that showed camera’s on the flight deck with waves washing over Wow is all I could think. After, that the rest of my sea timed seemed like cake. I had earned my sea legs in the best possible environment (or worst depending on you point of view). Try walking up a ladder with the ship rolling at forward – left side – backward – right side at 20 degree angles. Fun!!!!