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The first Enterprise originally belonged to the British and cruised on Lake Champlain to supply their posts in Canada. After the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by the Americans on 10 May 1775 she became the object of desire in the mind of Benedict Arnold who realized he would not have control of Lake Champlain until her capture. He learned she was stationed at a small British garrison at St. John’s on the Richelieu in Canada, and set out from Skenesborough (Whitehall, New York) in the commandeered sloop Liberty for that place on 14 May 1775. He surprised and captured the British garrison on 18 May, took possession of the 70-ton sloop, and sailed her south to Crown Point. She was named Enterprise by Arnold and fitted out with twelve long 4-pounder carriage guns and ten swivels. About 1 August 1775, Captain James Smith was sent by the New York Provincial Congress to General Philip Schuyler and ordered to take command of “the sloop Enterprise.”
The second Enterprise was an eight-gun schooner of 25 tons, with a crew of 60 men. Granted a letter of marque commission from the state of Maryland, she made a remarkably successful cruise (June-December 1776) under the command of Captain James Campbell. Enterprise was purchased by the Committee of Secret Correspondence of the Continental Congress 20 December 1776. Under the command of Captain Campbell, Enterprise served chiefly in convoying transports in Chesapeake Bay. She was also active in reconnoitering the enemy’s ships and preventing their tenders and barges from getting supplies from the shores of Maryland and Virginia.
The third Enterprise was a twelve-gun schooner built by Henry Spencer at Baltimore, Maryland at a cost of $16,240.00. She had a length of 84 feet, 7 inches; extreme beam of 22 feet, 6 inches; tonnage of 135, depth of hold, 10 feet; and a complement of 70 officers and men. She was originally armed with twelve long 6-pounders and placed under the command of Lieutenant John Shaw. On 1 September 1812, Enterprise got underway in search for British privateers reported off the coast of Maine. After chasing a schooner to the shore on Wood Island, Enterprise discovered what appeared to be a ship of war in the bay near Penequid Point on the coast of Maine. She immediately gave chase and soon found her quarry to be the British brig Boxer, mounting fourteen 18-pounder carronades, and manned by 72 men. When within half a pistol shot, broadsides exchanged by the two brigs brought death to Lieutenant William Burrows as well as to the British commander, Captain Samuel Blyth. Another broadside was exchanged before Enterprise ranged ahead to cross Boxer's bow and kept up a deadly fire until the enemy hailed and said they had surrendered but could not haul down the colors which were nailed to the mast. The surviving senior officer, Lieutenant Edward R. McCall, took the prize into Portland where a common funeral was held for the two commanders, both well-known and favorites in their respective services.
The fourth Enterprise was a schooner built by the New York Navy Yard where she was launched on 26 October 1831. Her length between perpendiculars was 83 feet, molded beam 23 feet, 5 inches; depth of hold 10 feet and tonnage 197. She was armed with ten 24 and 9-pounder guns. The schooner was placed in commission on 15 December 1831 when Lieutenant Commander Samuel W. Downing assumed command. Her original complement was nine officers and 63 men
The fifth Enterprise was a steam corvette with auxiliary sail power. Her hull was built of live oak in the Portsmouth Naval Yard by John W. Griffith. She was launched on 13 June 1874 and placed in commission 16 March 1877, Commander George C. Remey in command. The ship measured 185 feet between perpendiculars, breadth, 35 feet; depth of hold, 16 feet, 2 inches; tonnage 615, and displacement 1,375 tons. She had a speed of 11.4 knots and a complement of 20 officers and 164 men. Her original armament was one 11-inch moth bore, four 9-inch broadside guns, one 60-pounder pivot, and 1 short Gatling gun.
The sixth Enterprise was a 66-foot motor patrol craft purchased by the Navy on 6 December 1916. She was placed in the service of the Second Naval District on 25 September 1917 and performed harbor tug duties at Newport, Rhode Island. She shifted to New Bedford, Massachusetts, on 11 December 1917 for operations inside the breakwaters and was transferred to the Bureau of Fisheries on 2 August 1919.
The seventh Enterprise (CV 6) was the first "Big E". She was a commissioned aircraft carrier and served during World War II. The most decorated ship in history, the Enterprise participated in some of the largest battles in World War II including the Battle of Midway and others.