You think you’re cold? FleetEx ’83-1 Edition

Across two weeks in late March and early April 1983, 40 ships of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard along with the Royal Canadian Navy, including 300 aircraft and 23,000 Sailors, Coasties and Marines, joined in what was termed at the time “the largest fleet exercise conducted by the Pacific Fleet since World War II.” The stomping ground for Fleet Ex ’83-1 was the Northern Pacific near the Aleutian Islands.

Yep, the NORPAC in Winter.

Apr 1, 1983 – Flight deck crew members service two A-6E Intruder aircraft on the snow-covered flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA (CV-43) during the U.S. 3rd Fleet North Pacific exercise NORPAC. The joint Air Force and Navy exercise not only provides training for fighter pilots and tactical controllers but also tests the ability of those services to operate together for the defense of Alaska. The aircraft are of Carrier Air Wing 14, Attack Squadron 196 (VA-196) “Main Battery” who flew Intruders from October 1966 until their disestablishment in March 1997 as the last USN A-6 squadron. DN-SC-93-00830 via the USS Coral Sea Ageless Warrior Association

Apr 1, 1983 – Flight deck crew members stand by as another crew member drives an MD-3A tow tractor across the snow-covered flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA (CV-43) during the U.S. 3rd Fleet North Pacific Exercise NORPAC. DN-SC-93-00831 via https://www.usscoralsea.net/pics1980s4.php USS Coral Sea Ageless Warrior Association

FleetEx ’83-1 included three carrier battle groups, USS Coral Sea (CV-43), her “Fossil Fuel Forever” sistership USS Midway (CV-41), and the OG nuke boat, USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

A bow view of the aircraft carriers USS CORAL SEA (CV-43), right, and USS MIDWAY (CV-41) left, and the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65), center, underway with a task force during CINCPAC Exercise Fleetex ’83. The U.S. Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Canadian navy are participating in the exercise near the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. 4/13/1983 PH2 Loveall photo, DN-ST-84-05321 via NARA.

A port quarter view of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), left, and the aircraft carriers USS CORAL SEA (CV 43), center, and the USS MIDWAY (CV 41), right, underway with a task force during CINCPAC Exercise FLEET EX ’83. 4/13/1983 PH2 Loveall, DN-ST-84-05326 via NARA.

FleetEx ’83-1, note the Knox and Garcia class frigates, the Charles Adams class DDGs and two Hamilton-class 378-foot Coast Guard high endurance cutters (USCGC Jarvis and Rush) back when they had sonar, Mk.32s and 5″/38s.

Besides a big flex of naval muscle on the ramp-up to the Lehman 600-ship Navy, the exercise proved a great intel scrape, via a scholarly paper by Andrew R. Garland at UNLV.

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