The first nuclear powered American Navy aircraft carrier, and at one time the largest ship in the world, was decommissioned a few days ago. It served our nation for 51 years and was named after the Starship Enterprise of Star Trek fame. Many thousands of men and women served aboard that great ship over those years, and my own ship, the USS Vogelgesang, DD-862, served alongside her in operations at sea. We served as the Enterprise’s guards, and rescued her pilots when they overshot their landings and ended up in the drink. I used to look out there at that great flat-top and wonder what life was like on her. I knew it had to be cushier than the rough life of a tin can sailor, but we could go places, and did, that a deep draft ship like the Enterprise could never come near.
51 years is a really long life for a steel ship. The Enterprise was originally designed to last 25 years but upgrades extended her life to double that.
The Vogie, as we called my destroyer, was commissioned in 1945 but too late to see action in World War II. After 37 years of active service she was finally sold to the Mexican Navy in 1982, where she served for another 20 years before being finally decommissioned and scuttled for a fish habitat in 2002. The Vogie was an active warship for 57 years, longer than any other ship, a record that remains unbroken.
The Vogie was named after an American admiral of German descent, whose name means “bird having sung” in German.
Those who served aboard the Enterprise have a proud heritage, and her sailors of days gone by still miss their time of service aboard her. It’s the same with us from the Vogie, and more than any other period, it was the years I was lucky enough to crew on her that were the most important years of her service. More happened in that three years than in any other three years of the Vogie’s life. It was amazing, the places we went and the adventures we had. I never really appreciated it until I was in my 30′s and began to understand just how unique that whole experience really was. I’d thought that it was just how the Navy was, but it really wasn’t.
I’m in contact with some of the surviving crew from our time of service, and I wrote a book about those 3 years aboard her, which, like most books, has never been published. But I have it on cd and if anyone reading this would like a copy, email your address to me at blogman -at- wildblue.net and I’ll mail you one. It’s not a bad read, if I say so myself. Which I do, of course.