The Big “E”
By Captain Vincent P. de Poix, U. S. Navy, published in the June 1962 issue of Proceedings magazine:
From an operational standpoint, the ability of Enterprise to accelerate and decelerate merits first mention. In both cases our capability exceeds any conventional aircraft carrier. This capability is of tremendous benefit when carrying out our primary function of air operations in that we can turn into the wind at a later time with assurance that we can produce the requisite 35 knots of wind over the deck for launching or recovering aircraft.
During periods of light wind in particular since she can accelerate at such a tremendous rate- it is possible to steam down wind or along our intended course for longer periods and still turn into wind and be up to speed at the time appointed for aircraft operations.
We can decelerate very rapidly at the end of a launch or recovery in order to take our helicopters aboard if this course of action is preferable to turning out of the wind. The helicopters are subject to definite wind limitations which are le s than the relative wind over the deck which we require during fixed wing air operations. Recovering our helicopters rapidly means time saved in reassuming our intended track.
Our superior ability to accelerate and decelerate can also extricate us from tight spots in a hurry if necessary. This increases the safety of operation of the nuclear carrier as well as that of other ships which may be involved in a potential collision.
Enterprise is equipped with eight of the most powerful nuclear reactors now supplying power for propulsion. These reactors, operating on four shafts and arranged in pairs, can develop over 200,000 shaft horsepower. In fact, on trials, Ente1prise developed more horsepower than any ship in history.
It almost goes without saying that the high speed we can maintain continuously for long periods of time is not only a tactical but a strategic advantage. Among the tactical advantages are those of the ASW protection inherent in the ability to steam at high speed without necessary regard for depletion of fuel on board. Strategic advantages accrue in several ways. One is that the nuclear carrier can proceed at high speed to any trouble spot to which it may be directed and arrive considerably a head of any other carrier. And on arrival, the nuclear carrier can be ready to execute any assigned task without a needed pause for refueling at sea from tankers.
Much has been said about the fact that Enterprise makes no smoke. The greatest booster of this advantage are the pilots who land aboard, seconded closely, of course, by those charged with topside cleanliness and upkeep. This unobscured visibility and decreased turbulence in landing also increase safety. Our early operations point this out, since we have already had over 3,000 landings aboard Enterprise with no accidents or near accidents. Another “no smoke” factor involves aircraft cleanliness. Airplanes aboard Enterprise are not affected by corrosion caused by stack gas components.
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