William Shatner has never met a publicity opportunity he didn’t like. The actor made famous for his portrayal of Captain Kirk of the fictional Starship Enterprise in the “Star Trek” TV series, has announced he will attend the retirement ceremony of the very real USS Enterprise, perhaps the most famous ship in the United States Navy.
Along with “Star Trek,” “TJ Hooker” and decades of other acting roles, Shatner has also had a side career as a singer. The Daily Press reported that the actor’s publicist said he would only give a short speech at the final public ceremony for the Enterprise, which is scheduled for Saturday. Former “Star Trek” star George Takei visited the ship when it returned from deployment to its then port in Alameda, Calif.
The name Starship Enterprise was inspired by the Naval vessel, which was commissioned in 1961, years before “Star Trek.”
The USS Enterprise will be decommissioned in front of an expected crowd of 12,000 Saturday before crews start a four-year process to strip the vessel bare, being especially careful of any hazardous material and hydraulic tanks onboard. On Dec. 1, the oldest warship in the Navy will officially be inactive but will begin a long journey to becoming a non-threat, according to CNN.
It’s truly the end of an era, as the Enterprise was the pride of the Navy for decades. It first saw international action as part of the naval blockade President John F. Kennedy ordered to combat the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Longtime Arizona Senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain was serving on the ship during the most famous standoff in American history.
The ship still holds eight nuclear reactors in its hold, necessitating a trip around South America to get to Washington State because it’s too large to fit through the Panama Canal.
“In order to remove the reactors, it takes a lot of cutting and hacking on the ship to do that,” spokesperson for Naval Air Force Atlantic Mike Maus told CNN. “They do cut through the flight deck, and they may very well be cutting through the hull of the ship itself. Once the reactors are removed, to put the ship back in any shape to where it still resembles a ship the cost would be over the moon.”
The reactors will be placed on barges and floated up the Columbia River, where they’ll eventually be buried in a massive trench that already holds other nuclear materials.