Category Archives: cold war

So long, Tyr, King of the Cod Wars

The mighty Landhelgisgæslan (Icelandic Coast Guard) cutter Tyr, with a bone in her teeth. She was the bane of many British Tars in the frigate force in the 1970s.

Named for the Norse god “concerned with the formalities of war—especially treaties—and also, appropriately, of justice,” the modified Icelandic Coast Guard Ægir-class offshore patrol vessel Tyr was built at Aarhus Flydedok A/S in Denmark in 1974-75, at a time when the smallest (by population) member of NATO was fighting some of the strongest members of the Alliance, over fish.

The two-vessel Ægir-class were humble little gunboats, some 233-feet overall on a reinforced ice-strengthened steel hull. Weighing in at a slight 1,500-tons (at their largest), their West German-made diesel suite sipped gas and gave them an impressive 9,000nm range at 17 knots, enabling their 22-man crew to stay at sea virtually as long as the groceries held out.

Their sensors were commercial. Their original armament was an old 57mm low-angle Hotchkiss-style gun built under license at the Royal Danish Arsenal in Kopenhagen in the 1890s. The shells for the guns were pre-WWII dated. They had helicopter decks that could accommodate the country’s three small helicopters, a commercial Sikorsky S-62A variant (TF-GNA) and two U.S. surplus Bell 47Gs (TF-HUG and TF-MUN, named after Odin’s two ravens)

Tyr was more robust than her half-sister Ægir, and was the largest vessel in the ICG until 2011, carrying the fleet’s flagship position for most of her career.

The reason Iceland, which had no official military, needed such vessels was to chase off interloping European trawlers inside the country’s 50-mile limit, reaping the bounty of Icelands cod fisheries. The ICG, in turn, fought off the West Germans (1972-75) and, much more spectacularly, the British in what was termed the First (1958-59) Second (1972-1973) and Third (1975-76) “Cod Wars.”

The Icelanders got aggressive with the British anglers, cutting their nets with specially-made devices.

This brought in the support of the RN, and the ICG and a host of British frigates spent most of the early 70s trying to ram and avoid ramming each other.

The UK frigate HMS Mermaid collides with the Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel Thor in March 1976, in one of the incidents in the Cod Wars between the two countries.

The principal RN frigates sent to fight in the Second and Third Cod Wars


Ægir specifically cracked hulls with HMS Scylla (7 June 1973) and HMS Lincoln (22 September 1973) while the late-arriving Tyr counted coup on HMS Salisbury and HMS Tartar (1 April 1976) as well as HMS Falmouth (6 May 1976).

Icelandic patrol boat Ægir circles around for a run at HMS Scylla


Tyr and Salisbury

HMS Falmouth rams Icelandic Coast Guard Tyr May 6, 1976, almost rolling the smaller gunboat, taken from the Tribal Class Frigate HMS Tartar (F133)

In time, Iceland and the UK patched things up and most of the ICG’s older vessels were retired but Tyr and her sister Ægir continued in service for another 40 years, participating in NATO maritime operations, being very active in EOD removal along Iceland’s coastline, and helping old “mother” Denmark police and secure the sovereignty of the Faeroes and Greenland.

She also had run-ins with the whale hippies over Iceland’s traditional harvest.

Tyr rammed by Greenpeace.

They were given extensive modernizations in 1997 and 2005 that upgraded the ships, replaced the old 57mm hood ornament with a more modern 1960s 40mm Bofors, and other improvements.

Once the Cold War thawed, there were other missions, and the class was sent to the Med to help in the EU’s counter-migrant operations there, with Tyr saving over 400 souls in one 2015 incident alone off the South East Coast of Italy.

Icelandic Coast Guard Tyr on EU fisheries duty in the Med

Class leader Ægir was retired in 2012, after a new construction OPV, Thor, was commissioned.

Now, with the South Korean-built Freyja joining the Icelandic fleet late last year, Tyr has recently hung it up as well.

Icelandic Coast Guard Tyr, 2021

Perhaps she will be saved as a museum. One could only hope.

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 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.

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022: It’s Easy As 1-2-3

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022: It’s Easy As 1-2-3

(Shorter WW this week as I am traveling to Vegas for SHOT. We’ll be back to our regular programming next week).

Naval History and Heritage Command NH 94372

Here we see the Oregon-City class heavy (gun) cruiser USS Albany (CA-123), in her original condition, just off her birthplace as seen in an aerial beam view from the Boston Lightship, 19 January 1947– some 75 years ago today.

And a following three-quarter stern view shot, taken the same day as the above. Note the advanced Curtiss SC Seahawk floatplanes, the last of the Navy’s “slingshot planes.” They were retired in 1949. NH 94373

Albany, the fourth such U.S. Navy warship to carry the name of that Empire State capital city– the fifth is a Los Angeles-class attack submarine (SSN-753) commissioned in 1990 and still in active service– was laid down during WWII at Bethlehem Steel’s Quincy, Massachusetts yard. However, she only commissioned nine months after VJ-Day, joining the fleet on 15 June 1946 in a ceremony at the Boston Navy Yard.

The brand new 13,000-ton warship became something of a Cold War-ear “peace cruiser,” and as far as I can tell, she never fired her mighty 8″/55 (20.3 cm) Mark 12s in anger.

Although in commission during Korea, she spent the 1950s alternating “assignments to the 6th Fleet with operations along the east coast of the United States and in the West Indies and made three cruises to South American ports.”

Decommissioned in 1958 after 12 years of service, she was sent back to the Boston Navy Yard for an extensive reconstruction and conversion to a guided-missile cruiser, landing her 8-inchers for MK 11 (Tartar) and MK 12 (Talos) GMLS missile launchers, only retaining a couple of 5″/38s for special occasions.

In 1962, she emerged with her hull number rightfully changed to CG-10.

She looked dramatically different.

A great period Kodachrome of USS Albany (CG-10), conducting sea trials on October 18, 1962. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Image: 428-GX-KN-4076.

USS Albany (CG-10) became the first ship to fire three guided missiles simultaneously when she launched Tartar and Talos surface-to-air missiles from the forward, aft, and one side of the ship while in an exercise off the Virginia Capes, 20 January 1963. U.S. Navy photo, Boston NHP Collection, NPS Cat. No. 15927

Missing Vietnam, she would continue to make cruises to the Mediterranean, later operating from Gaeta, Italy, where she served as flagship for the Commander, 6th Fleet, for almost four years.

Decommissioned for the last time on 29 August 1980, she was stricken five years later and, when efforts to turn her into a museum never came to fruition, Albany was sold in 1980 for her value in scrap metal.

The USS Albany Association has an extensive amount of relics from the vessel and the NHHC has a nice sampling of photos curated on the lucky warship.

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find.

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Big Joe, on the approach

In the following beautiful three-shot sequence, credited to PH1 Michael D. P. Flynn, who was likely aloft in a thumping helicopter, we see the U.S. Navy Belknap-class “destroyer leader” turned guided-missile cruiser USS Josephus Daniels (CG-27) in the Strait of Magellan on the transition to Punta Arenas, Chile, during Unitas XXXI joint fleet exercises between the U.S. and nine South American states, July 1990.

These photos are in the National Archives, 330-CFD-DN-SC-92-02912, 330-CFD-DN-SC-92-02913, and 330-CFD-DN-SC-92-02916, respectively.

Note the “single-ended” Joe’s big Mark 10 launcher for Standard SM-2 ER missiles forward along with the associated SPS-48 3D air search radar and two SPG-55 directors, the massive SPS-49 radar on the after mack, and quad Harpoon canisters & CIWS replacing the original 3″/50 AAA guns she was commissioned with. Her class were extremely capable air defense vessels in their day, surpassed only by “double-ended” CGNs and the Ticos.

Daniels is named for the notorious newspaper editor and publisher who, appointed SECNAV by President Wilson in 1913 (whose ASECNAV was a young FDR), instituted a bunch of “reforms” that included banning alcohol on naval vessels. This, of course, led to the “Cup of Joe” label for coffee.

1 June 1914, General Order 99, signed by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, prohibited alcohol aboard naval vessels. 

Our destroyer/cruiser, originally DLG-27, was built at Bath in Maine, sponsored by two granddaughters of the late SECNAV, and commissioned 8 May 1965. Earning three Vietnam Service Medals and playing lots of near-miss “Cold War” games in the Med with Soviet surface ships, she was instantly converted to a cruiser in 1975 to close the “cruiser gap” with the Russkies.

The above shots were among Joe’s swan song, as she was decommissioned and struck on the same day cold January day in 1994– 28 years ago this week– then sold for scrapping before the decade was up.

NARA has a huge stock of high-rez color photos of Joe’s Unitas cruise online.

35 Years Ago: WWII Meets Cold War

A beautiful port bow view of the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41, ex-CVB/CVA-41) “somewhere in the Philipine Sea” as she is underway with Carrier Air Wing 5 (CARAIRWING FIVE) embarked, early January 1987.

Laid down on 27 October 1943 at Newport News as the lead ship in a class designed to carry a whopping 137 aircraft to fight the Empire of Japan, Midway was a week and a day too late for her intended task, commissioned on 10 September 1945.

Much modified with an enclosed bow and an angled flight deck in a three-year conversion in the mid-1950s, she would continue to operate in the jet era, largely with CVW-5 embarked. Midway took CVW-5 to Vietnam twice (April 16, 1971 – November 6, 1971 and September 11, 1973 – October 5, 1973) then continued to operate the wing, forward deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi, until August 1991.

Notably, her 1987 deployment was the first for Midway to carry the F/A-18A/B Hornet. VF-151 of CVW-5 had, on 25 March 1986, conducted the final carrier launching of a Navy fleet F-4S Phantom II off the carrier during flight operations in the East China Sea, closing out an era.

She carried three F-18 Hornet squadrons, as she was unable to operate F-14s for an extended amount of time and the F-4 had been retired.

Her Hornet squadrons included VFA-195 (Dambusters,) VFA-151 (Vigilantes) and VFA-192 (Golden Dragons) between 1986 and 1991. NARA DN-ST-93-01289 CVW-5

Decommissioned 11 April 1992– only five years after the above image– Midway is currently the largest naval museum ship in the world, and the only aircraft carrier commissoned after WWII that is preserved and open to the public. With all of the Navy’s conventional flattops now consigned to the scrappers, she will likley hold on to both of those titles.

Meanwhile, CVW-5 is still around and still in Japan, attached to forward-deployed Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 and flagship USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)— and yes, they still fly Hornets, albeit of the Super type.

Used F-4 Phantom, Half Off!

Via Platinum Fighter Sales, not a joke:

“Price Slashed. 1959 McDonnell F4H-1F Phantom II. Restoration is 80-85% complete. The airframe has undergone a complete IRAN per U.S. Navy standards. Everything has been overhauled to 0-time condition. Needs engines overhauled, avionics, and ejection seats. Was $2,950,000. Now asking $1,500,000. Trades considered.”

F4H-1F BuNo 145310 was one of the first dozen pre-production Phantoms

History of the aircraft:

F4H-1F BuNo 145310 was delivered to the Navy in 1959 and was the 11th pre-production aircraft built. 1961 was a memorable year for the jet. On 22nd April 1961, it carried a very impressive 22 Mk83 500lb bombs on various hardpoints under the aircraft and dropped them on a range at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This demonstration was the deciding factor for the United States Air Force to also order the aircraft.

In August 1961, 145310 was one of three F4H-1F Phantom II’s used by the U.S. Navy to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of U.S. Naval Aviation. 

Later, during a weapons test, 145310 had part of the undercarriage door and pylon were burnt by a Sidewinder missile and later that year, the aircraft suffered an engine failure. Thankfully landing safely. The aircraft last saw use in September 1964 when the Navy retired their test aircraft. It had completed 461 hours.

Never demilled, 145310 has been under restoration to airworthy condition for the past 10 years by Aircraft Restoration Services LLC at the French Valley Airport, CA. It is being offered for sale “As Is, Where Is.”

Thunderchiefs and Skyhawk

It just doesn’t get much prettier than this.

Official caption: “Three Republic F-105B Thunderchief aircraft from the 508th Tactical Fighter Group, U.S. Air Force Reserve, and two U.S. Navy McDonnell Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk aircraft from Fleet Composite Squadron VC-1 flying in formation off Oahu, Hawaii (USA), on 25 January 1978.”

Source U.S. DefenseImagery photo VIRIN: DN-SC-82-02245 Author PH3 (AC) T.J. PFRANG. Via the National Archives.

Of note, both types saw extensive service in Vietnam with their respective branches, taking heavy losses in both cases. The photo was close to their swan song, as they were both set for imminent retirement. 

Fly By Night Outfit: Spooky does it

Official caption: “Air War In Vietnam, 1966: Crew of US AC-47 plane firing 7.62 mm GE miniguns during a night mission in Vietnam.”

The trio of General Electric GAU-2/M134 miniguns carried by the gunship was able to lay down a total of 6,000 rounds of 7.62 NATO per minute, or 100 per second.

The night attack of a U.S. Air Force Douglas AC-47D Spooky gunship over Saigon in 1968. This time-lapse photo shows the tracer round trajectories. National Museum of the U.S. Air Force photo 120517-F-DW547-001

Going well beyond the “whole nine yards”

AC-47 Spooky by Stu Shepherd

With less than 40 AC-47s of all types used by the USAF’s 3rd and 4th Air Commando Squadrons between 1964-69, few remained in U.S. inventory as most flyable examples were passed on to Southeast Asian allies (i.e. Cambodia, Laos, RVN, Thailand) after the much more capable AC-130 gunship entered service.

However, there is one that I happen to visit every time I head to Destin, located at the USAF Armament Museum, although it is actually just a modded C-47K Goony Bird (S/N 44-76486).

The AC-47D depicted emulates SN 43-49010 which was one of the first 20 C-47Ds converted to its AC-47D configuration by Air International at Miami, FL. The original was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron, 14th Special Operations Wing, flying out of Udorn RTAFB, Thailand during the Vietnam War from 1969-1970.

The Mighty B Comes Home for a Visit

Official caption: “The Almirante Didiez Burgos (PA-301), a Dominican Republic navy’s Cutter, sails into Museum Park Marina in Miami, Florida, Nov. 10, 2021. The Dominican Republic’s navy visited Miami to enable the next generation of Dominican commissioned officers to learn about U.S. Coast Guard.”

Not too shabby for being 78 years in service. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Estrada)

If you are a fan of WWII USCG vessels, Burgos is immediately recognizable as a 180-foot seagoing buoy tender of the Balsam/Mesquite-class.

We’ve covered them before in past Warship Wednesdays and they gave lots of service during not only the war but well into the 1990s. 

Built as USCGC Buttonwood (WAGL-306/WLB-306) in Duluth, Minnesota on the Great Lakes, she commissioned 24 September 1943– heading almost immediately for the Pacific.

USCGC Buttonwood tied up after her commissioning- 27 September 1943. Her wartime armament included a 3″/50, two Oerlikons, depth charge tracks, two Mousetraps, four Y-guns, an SL-2 radar, and WEA-2 sonar. Not bad for a 900-ton auxiliary that had a top speed of 13 knots. USCG Historian’s Office photo

She arrived at Guadalcanal in May 1944 and alternated her aids-to-navigation duty with salvage and survey work, often under fire as she moved forward with the fleet. “Mighty B” endured a reported 269 attacks by Japanese aircraft, including 11 air raids in one day, being credited with downing two enemy aircraft with her AAA guns.

On Christmas 1944, she went to the assistance of the burning Dutch troopship Sommeisdijk, which had been hit by a Japanese torpedo, and rescued 182 men.

M.V. SOMMELSDIJK. Built for the Holland America Line and used as a Troopship, the SOMMELSDIJK is shown arriving at San Francisco, California, about 1943. After the war, she returned to commercial service for the line until her scrapping in 1965. Description: Catalog #: NH 89834

Other than her WWII service, Buttonwood had a very active Cold War– providing aids to navigation for military tests sites throughout the Pacific– and the War on Drugs.

USCGC Buttonwood underway in 1960. Note she still has her 3″/50 over the stern but now has a black hull, a common feature of ATON ships in USCG service even today. USCG Historian’s Office photo

For instance, during Korea:

At the outbreak of the Korean War, Buttonwood was re-equipped with sonar gear, guns, and depth charges. Though she was never directly involved with combat, Buttonwood was prepared and trained with the Navy by participating in “war games”. These games often seemed like “cat and mouse” where Buttonwood was tracked by Navy submarines and she, in turn, tried to detect the submarines with sonar equipment. The K-guns and depth charges were subsequently removed in the mid-1950s.

Buttonwood served with the Coast Guard until 2001, and was extensively surveyed for posterity before she was turned over to the Dominicans, who seem to have taken good care of her over the past two decades.

Santa Barbara pokes out

Passing through Mobile last week, I saw this big grey beast emerging.

The future USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32), rolling out of her assembly bay. (Photo: Austal)

The 16th Independence-class littoral combat ship was laid down last October and, with the rollout, is nearing her official launching and christening. There are only three more of her class on the schedule.

While replacing frigates on the Naval List, they are being named instead after small cities, a tradition used for light cruisers, gunboats, and transports/auxiliaries. The previous two Santa Barbaras have been of the latter type.

The first, a 13,000-ton single-screw freighter, was taken over from the Atlantic & Pacific Steamship Co. in 1918 and served with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) during the Great War.

USS Santa Barbara (ID # 4522) “Crowded with homeward-bound troops, while arriving in a U.S. East Coast port in 1919.” The original image is printed on postcard (AZO) stock. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2008. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 106367

Returned to her owners, she continued in the merchant trade as SS American until she was sunk by U-504 off Belize in 1942.

Ammunition ship USS Santa Barbara (AE-28) underway with the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) battle group. The ship, which is part of Task Group 24.4, is in an 18-ship formation that is transiting the North Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. 8.12.1988 DN-ST-89-01280 by PH2 William Lipski

The second Santa Barbara— and the first ordered by the Navy– was the Kilauea-class ammunition ship (AE-28). Commissioned 11 July 1970, she was transferred to the MSC in 1998 as T-AE-28 for another seven years of service with a civilian crew.

She was sold for scrap in 2007.

With that, it will be kinda nice that the third ship named for the California city that is, in turn, named after the patron saint of artillery, will be carried by a warship, even if it is an LCS.

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