I’m a USS Enterprise plank owner. She was my first duty station after electronics school, and I fell in love with her as soon as I came aboard. I still care about the Big E.
I was a tall, skinny 20-year-old seaman when I reported to the ship in September 1961. She was still the property of Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and moored alongside a company pier while fitting out. The shipyard and the Navy had much to do, but the work moved along briskly during the mostly warm and sunny days before commissioning on 25 November.
The construction noise was almost constant through the day and sometimes far into the night. Passageways and compartments were filled with water hoses, air hoses, and extension cords. Down in the galley the smell of sweat, metal, and welding smoke mixed with the aroma of the food.