From September 2003 to February 2004, the ship deployed to relieve the four carriers that were on station during the invasion of Iraq. Enterprise's role was to provide continued air support for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The fully repaired Cole was a member of her escort group at this time. A USO tour was held aboard while at sea, with WWE superstar Kurt Angle, NASCAR racer Mike Wallace, and comedian Robin Williams giving talks and performances. The ship made several port-calls to Jebel Ali, a stop in Bahrain (during which actor Ben Affleck visited the ship), and Naples, Italy and Cartegna, Spain on the way home. Admiral James Stavridis commanded the battle group at this time with Captain Eric Neidlinger as Enterprise's commanding officer. In April 2004, Enterprise participated in the Fleet Week celebration in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Enterprise's Damage Control team won the Damage Control Olympics at that event, setting several records in the process. In June and July 2004, the ship participated in Summer Surge 2004 and several multinational exercises. She participated in photo ops of a multinational battle group and was anchored at Portsmouth, England on 4 July. USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Sailors of the Year appeared on the set of the Paramount Television series Enterprise to present the cast and crew with an American flag in 2003. The flag was flown in their honor as gratitude for the support the cast, and crew of the TV series have given the crew of the carrier. 2005 saw the ship in for another routine shipyard overhaul at Newport News Shipyard in Newport News, Virginia. Departing the dock after this yard period, Enterprise ran through a sand bar, causing all eight reactors to shut down, leaving the ship adrift on emergency power for nearly three hours before she was tugged back to her pier at Norfolk Naval Base. It took approximately three days for the ship's nuclear machinists to clear her condensers of river mud. In May 2006, Enterprise departed for a six-month deployment, operating in the 6th, 5th and 7th Fleet areas in a world-tour, supporting Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, and visiting ports in Dubai, Hong Kong, and crossing the line. She returned to Norfolk 18 November 2006. On 19 December 2007, the carrier returned home after a six-month deployment in the Persian Gulf.
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Enterprise's home port was Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia as of September 2012. Her second home port was Naval Air Station Alameda until its closure in 1997. When in port at NAS Alameda, she was visible to those crossing the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. She was the flagship of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz while he lived in Berkeley, California until his death in 1966. Her final deployment, the last before her inactivation, began on 10 March 2012 and ended 4 November 2012. She was inactivated on 1 December 2012 and has undergone the 48 month inactivation process that rendered her unfit for further military service (inactivation removes fuel, fluids, furnishings, tools, fittings and de-energizes the ship's electrical system). Enterprise was officially decommissioned on February 3, 2017, after over 55 years of service, and with the completion of an extensive terminal offload program. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day
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