USS Enterprise Aircraft Carrier
June 8, 2015
The USS Enterprise is not the Star Trek ship. She was an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific Fleet. Enterprise aircraft carrier was not in Pearl Harbor during the infamous attacks. None of the aircraft carrier were. She was a approximately 215 miles west of Pearl Harbor at sea. At the same time, the Japanese carriers were 220 miles North of Pearl Harbor.
Enterprise was supposed to arrive the day before, but was delayed because of a storm in the pacific. This delay was a blessing for Enterprise and the Pacific Fleet. Had she been in Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack she most certainly would have been the primary target.
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was certain of the importance of aircraft carriers in the war. He knew that they were superior to battleships and he had hoped that they would be in port during the attack.
Enterprise was on a scouting mission, but the Japanese attack force was outside the range of Enterprise’s radar. Her scout aircraft were too far from the Japanese planes as well.
At about the same time the Japanese planes were taking off from Kido Butai, the Enterprise was launching planes headed toward Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. The Japanese planes arrived first and the destruction began before the first planes arrived from Enterprise.
Lietentant Commander Young was piloting an SBD and had to avoid friendly fire to land on Ford Island at 0830. Other SBDs were hit by friendly fire and went down.
USS Enterprise Aircraft Carrier in Pursuit
The Commander of the task force that was chasing the Japanese fleet immediately after the attack was Admiral William H. “Bull” Halsey. The USS Enterprise aircraft Carrier was commanded by Captain George D. Murray.
Although Enterprise and Task Force 8 did not catch Kido Butai, the Japanese Task Force, they did have a positive effect on the attack. Because the location of Enterprise and the other aircraft carriers was unknown, the commander of the Japanese task force, Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, decided not to send another wave of attack. They cut the attack short in order to avoid a counter attack.
It was probably best that they did not have an encounter at sea because Kido Butai was far more prepared for that battle than USS Enterprise Aircraft Carrier and Task Force 8. This again was good fortune on this lucky ship.