USA: World’s First Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier Hosts Theatrical Production

World's First Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier Hosts Theatrical Production

The world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), took center stage Nov. 28, when Enterprise Sailors performed in a theatrical production for honored guests in attendance for the ship’s 50th birthday celebration.

The production included scenes from the history of all eight ships bearing the Enterprise name, including emotional recreations of events taking place onboard the most decorated ship of World War II, the seventh Enterprise, CV 6.

Lt. Jonathan Pohnel, a tactical action officer onboard CVN 65, wrote and directed the performance, which featured Enterprise Sailors in roles such as Col. Benedict Arnold, President John F. Kennedy and President George W. Bush. For Pohnel, bringing 50 years of history to life was no easy task.

“It was a little intimidating at times; putting over 300 hours of research, writing and preparing Sailors to represent so many important historical events,” he said. “My hope is that the production will inspire Enterprise Sailors, past and present, and remind them why their service is so very important.”

The 45-minute performance took place in the hangar bay and included scenes from historical events such as the Battle of Midway, Cuban Missile Crisis and Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.

Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Stephen M. White played the commanding officer of the USS Enterprise (CV 6) during the Battle of Midway.

“I am so excited to have the opportunity to participate and commemorate this historic event,” said White. “As a student of history, I really enjoyed recreating such an integral event in our ship and our nation’s history.”

Chief Religious Programs Specialist (SW/AW) Terry A. Burrell, who was in the audience, found the play “spectacularly moving, especially with the historical aspects. I will always remember this event as a wonderful depiction of Enterprise history.”

Many of the scenes, especially the recreation of the 1969 Enterprise flight deck fire and the video footage of Vietnam with guitar accompaniment, were extremely moving to veterans in the audience who experienced these events firsthand.

“The performance brought a tear to my eye, especially when I saw how moved the veterans were during the fire scene,” said Mark Douglass, a veteran Enterprise Sailor, who traveled from California to attend the celebration.

Pohnel’s goal for the production was, in his words, “make sure every Enterprise Sailor, past and present, knows that they have done something worthwhile with their lives.”

Enterprise celebrated its 50th birthday Nov. 25. The ship will make its final deployment in the spring, followed by a deactivation period and decommissioning, currently scheduled for 2015.

Naval Today Staff, November 30, 2011; Image: navy