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.

The 411 on the new FN High Power (not the Browning Hi-Power)

I dropped by FN’s booth at SHOT Show in Las Vegas this week to get the scoop on the new FN High Power pistol line.

Not just a restart of the old FN/Browning Hi-Power, the new 9mm guns have a 21st-century flair to them, with a 17+1 magazine capacity, ambi controls, texturing on the frame, better ergonomics, and FN 509-pattern dovetail sights. They will be available in three variants including the standard black model, one in FDE– sure to be a hit with modern FN owners who collect that genre– and a true stainless steel model. 

Each will ship with two sets of grips.

More in my column at

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.

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Finns Roll Their own AR-10s for DMR, Sniper Work

The Finnish military, a force long renowned for its snipers– has selected the M23 series rifle from Sako for precision work.

Sako, a historic Finnish rifle manufacturer that recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, has a long connection to the country’s sharpshooters. Samo Haya, widely regarded as “the world’s deadliest sniper,” used a Sako-made Mosin M/28 during the country’s 1939-40 Winter War with the Soviet Union.

Sako’s new M23 AR-10 platform, frolicking in the Karelian forests. (Photo: Finnish Defense Force)

The new rifle, based on the AR-10/SR-25 style platform, is the Sako-made M23 in 7.62 NATO. It will be fielded in two formats, the Kivääri 23 (KIV 23) — a designated marksman rifle for use in infantry squads– and the Tarkkuuskivääri 23 (TKIV 23), a dedicated sniper rifle, with the differences largely being in the optics. Both guns are shown in Finnish Army photos with Steiner glass, no surprise as both Sako and Steiner are owned by Beretta.

The M23 will replace the Finnish Army’s aging Cold War-era Dragunov marksman rifles and the newer TKIV 85 bolt-action sniper rifle, the latter a much-upgraded Mosin action. Both legacy platforms are chambered in 7.62x54R.

The KIV 23 variant is for use as a DMR at the squad and platoon level, replacing the Dragunov SVD. It is expected to mount an LPVO and is intended for use to 600 meters. (Photo: Finnish Defense Force)

Meanwhile, the Sako TKIV 23, outfitted with a Steiner M7Xi 2.9–20×50, will replace an accurized Finnish-made Mosin, the TKIV 85, in a sniper role out to 800 meters. (Photo: Finnish Defense Force)

The upside of this is the possibility that we could see a high-quality AR-10 from Finland imported via Beretta USA’s channels at some point. Which is a win for everybody, I think.

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.

After taking a half-decade off, FN has Re-entered the Hi-Power Game

FN America on Tuesday announced they are returning to the Hi-Power market in force with a new generation of 9mm pistols in three different variants. 

FN was the initial maker of the classic last handgun design conceived by John Moses Browning and realized by Dieudonné Saive, the latter the father of the FN 1949 and FN FAL. The company ended the line in 2017 and others have gone on to clone the iconic 9mm. 

To set the record straight, FN has returned the Hi-Power/High Power to production in an updated format with improved internals, a modern barrel lockup, a 17+1 flush-fit magazine capacity, and the ability to run hollow points.

Featuring ambidextrous controls and the elimination of the oft-detested magazine disconnect, the new High Power is available in stainless, FDE, and black finishes, retaining a single-action trigger that breaks crisply and cleanly.

More in my column at

Supersonic Navy!

The Vought F-8 Crusader, whose quartet of Colt Mk12 20mm cannons gave the supersonic air superiority fighter the nickname of “The Last of the Gunfighters,” certainly looked the part of Atomic-era modernity on the posters.

Painting, Acrylic on Illustration Board, by Joseph Binder, C. 1960, Unframed Dimensions 26H X 20W. Naval History and Heritage Command Accession #: 68-084-A-07

Withdrawn from service starting in the late 1960s as the F-4 Phantom replaced it– a plane that initially did not have any gun armament– the Navy Air fighter jocks of the time, many who cut their teeth on 20mm cannon-armed jets like the F2H Banshee, F9F Panther/Cougar, F3D Skyknight, F4D Skyray, and F7U Cutlass, saw the Crusader’s departure as the end of an era.

When you’re out of F-8’s, you’re out of fighters…

Galil? Galeo!

For those who are curious, the Galil was introduced in 1972 by the Israelis after having bad experiences in the deserts with their FN FALs while at the same time seeing how well captured AK-style guns handled in the sand and moondust of the Siani and Golan Heights. Borrowing from both Kalashnikov and Stoner’s design philosophies and mixing a dash of FN to the stew, Israeli developers Yisrael Galili and Yakov Lior blended the best of both worlds to deliver the finished product. The Israelis milled out a forged steel receiver, rather than the simple stamped sheet metal receivers of the Kalash family.

Available in both 7.62 and 5.56 NATO variants, it was gas-operated with a piston, used a rotating bolt, and proved rugged and reliable, remaining in front line service until the year 2000 when it was replaced by U.S.-supplied M16s which, with their aluminum receivers, were lighter and more versatile, especially in later models.

Still, the Galil proved popular enough to be license-produced in Italy by Bernardelli, South Africa by Vektor as the R4, and in Sweden as the FFV 890. Galil variants have been used by no less than 50 countries as diverse as Columbia, Portugal, and Nepal. Meanwhile, the only Israeli-produced Galil these days is the Galil Ace platform in three different calibers including 7.62x39mm.

The gun is so commonly encountered overseas that it is part of the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Course at U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, seen here in a fam fire course in November 2021 (Photo: U.S. SOCOM)

With IWI/IMI Galil sporters non-existent as imports after about 1993, this led to in-house “kit builds” made in the U.S. with new receivers and barrels coupled with surplus kits from overseas. The Century Arms Golani Sporter hit the market over a decade ago and then disappeared a few years ago. To fill this void are the often tough-to-find James River Armory Gallant and ATI’s Galeo that appeared in 2019.

I’ve been kicking around one of these Galeos for the past couple of months and, I gotta say, it is a faithful clone that may actually be better than the original.

The ATI Galeo uses a new American-made 4140 steel receiver and a 4150 steel 18-inch 1:7 twist barrel with a 5.56 NATO chamber. Other than that and the U.S.-made magazine, everything else is carefully harvested and refurbished IMI-made surplus parts. (Photo: Chris Eger)

See more in my column over at

Used Corvettes on the Pacific Rim Second Hand Market

The Republic of Korea Navy closed out 2021 by decommissioning nine warships vessels from active service.

ROKN Fleet Command closed the books on three Pohang-class Patrol Combat Corvettes (PCC) and five Chamsuri-class patrol boats (PKM) while the Incheon Naval Sector Defense Command decommissioned one Chamsuri-class patrol boat.

The three decommissioned PCCs are the ROKS Wonju (PCC-769), ROKS Seongnam (PCC-775), and ROKS Jecheon (PCC-776), all of which are Flight-IV PCCs.

This leaves just seven Pohangs in service with the ROKN as they are being quickly replaced by new, much more capable, Incheon-class guided-missile frigates.

Cranked out in the mid-1980s to early 1990s, two dozen of these hardy little 1,200-ton, 289-foot corvettes were constructed. Powered by a CODOG suite that included a single LM2500 turbine to hit 32+ knots and two fuel-sipping MTU diesels for an economical 15 knot cruising speed for patrol work, they mount a couple of 76mm OTOs along with some smaller mounts as well as ASW torpedo tubes and a four-pack of Harpoon ASMs.

ROKS Bucheon PCC 773 and ROKS Sokcho PCC 778, Batch IV and V Pohangs. Note the twin 76mm OTO Meleras and twin Breda DARDO 40 mm/70 CIWS mounts. They can also carry Blue Shark ASW torpedos and Harpoons.

These three most recently retired 25-year-old corvettes will likely be donated to Southeast Asian and/or Latin American countries as military aid. Last year, two corvettes were donated to Colombia and Peru while the Philippines already has one, and Vietnam has two.

The Peruvian Navy just received its second donated Pohang, ROKS Suncheon (PCC-767), from South Korea recently. The vessel had been decommissioned in 2019 and will become BAP Guise (CM-28). Like its sister ship BAP Ferre (CM-27), the Guise will be outfitted with Peru’s indigenously-developed VARAYOC combat management system and the Mage QHAWAX electronic support-measure system. 

My bet is that the PI will get one or two of these Pohangs as South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries is already making (and supporting) a pair of 2,600-ton Jose Rizal-class light frigates for the country to a modified version of the shipbuilder’s HDF-2600 design. Two new Rizals and three scratch-and-dent Pohangs, along with three Del Pilar class offshore patrol vessels (ex USCG 378-foot Hamilton-class cutters), make the PI more a player in the South China Sea against increasingly muscular ChiCom moves in the area. Such a fleet is a quantum leap from the PI’s circa 2015 fleet, which was made up of WWII-built minesweepers, LSTs, and PCEs, often of third-hand lineage. 

The recycled Pohangs are a logical counter to China’s recent moves to upgrade relations with Indo-Pacific countries via the export of Ming (Type 035, redesigned Romeo) and Yuan-class (Type 039A) diesel submarines. 

A Closer Look at the FFG-62 Class

PEO USC this week gave an unclassified presentation to the Surface Navy Association of the Constellation-class Guided Missile Frigate (FFG 62) program thus far. The PowerPoint included a few interesting slides, repeated below for posterity.

Big likes of mine on the 7,300-ton, 496-foot frigate, is that it has almost 50,000shp, a “Baby AEGIS” phased-array system, and a fit for 16 anti-ship missiles. The AAW/missile defense is taken care of by a 32-cell VLS (which can be expanded with the use of quad-packed ESSM Sea Sparrows) coupled with a 21-cell RAM, 57mm Bofors (which can be used to good effect in such a role with its 3P shells) and soft kill systems.

Big dislikes: USW/ASW is limited to an SQQ-89 combat system, an unnamed VDS and towed array, and a single MH-60 type helicopter. The only “hard kill” option is the possibility of a couple of VLS-ASROCs (unlikely when headed into the Westpac against a heavy AShM threat) while soft kill is the elderly Nixie device. At least the Perrys had Mk.32s with a big torpedo magazine and twice the rotary-wing. Even the Knox class of the 1970s and 80s had the 8-cell ASROC “Matchbox” launcher while the SpruCans— which were almost the size of the planned FFG-62s– had the Matchbox (with space for two full reloads), Mk. 32s, and same-sized helicopter capacity.

I guess I just miss Matchboxes, and I am not ashamed to say it.

USS Bronstein (FF-1037) firing an ASROC rocket from her Mk-16 box launcher, circa 1980s NHHC S-550-G

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