So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To commemorate christening of U.S.S. Enterprise, "World's largest ship and first nuclear powered aircraft carrier."

Site, Date, Attendance: Shipyard of Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA, Sept. 24, 1960; attendance about 15,000, "largest in recent times."

Comment: Huge craft perpetuated name of 7 Naval predecessors dating from Revolutionary War, ranging from small sloop captured from British in 1775 to famous "Big E" of World War II, flagship of Admiral Halsey. Latter built in 1938, never inoperative throughout 4 years battle action in Pacific and was only ship in naval history to receive both Presidential and unit citations. Decommissioned 1947 and struck from Navy List 1956, her tripod mast now stands as memorial on grounds of U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.

Keel of this Enterprise was laid Feb. 4, 1958; U.S. Bureau of Ships, Westinghouse, Admiral Rickover and his staff and "over 800 subcontractors" joined Newport News Shipbuilding in construction. Christened by Mrs. William B. Franke, wife of Secretary of Navy, another year was required for outfitting before commissioning in Fall, 1961. Vessel over 1,100 ft. long, with 4 1/2 acre flight deck and crew of 4,600 including air group. Displacing 85,000 tons, capable of cruising "20 times around the world without sustained high speed."

Medal: Issued by Newport News Shipbuilding Co. and presented to those attending christening ceremony together with christening program, picture postcards of Enterprise and brochure describing ship and her reactors. Medal designed by Company art staff, executed in bas-relief by New York sculptor Ralph Menconi; 15,000 Bronze pieces struck by Medallic Art Co. Apparently only 11,000 medals distributed at christening and surplus of 4,000 bought by Norfolk, Virginia, souvenir dealer. It was reported reliably that dies have been destroyed.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher

Obv. An Aircraft Carrier (in high relief); above U. S. S. Enterprise below ship World's Largest / Ship; below, around First Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier
Rev. At top, around Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company; Company Seal below; below seal, across Christened by / Mrs. William B. Franke / September 24. 1960 / Newport News / Virginia

HK-578 Bronze. 38mm.

NOTE: This issue should not be confused with the 2 1/2 in. Silver and Bronze medals widely offered beginning 1960.