A Navy officer salutes during the inactivation ceremony for the Enterprise at Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday. Big E served in the fleet for 51 years. (Steve Helber / AP)
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NORFOLK, Va. — The world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been retired from active service in the U.S. Navy.
The USS Enterprise ended its notable 51-year career on Saturday during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
Thousands of former crew members, ship builders and their families lined a pier to bid farewell to one of the most decorated ships in the Navy.
The ship served in every major conflict since participating in a blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
With the inactivation, the U.S. fleet is temporarily reduced to 10 aircraft carriers while the USS Gerald R. Ford is built. It will join the fleet in 2015.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a recorded video message during the ceremony that a future aircraft carrier would be named USS Enterprise.