Rear Adm. Frank S. Virden, Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet, served as the principal speaker as the ship was commissioned. Harry Bronstein, her namesake’s brother, presented an oil portrait of Lt. (j.g.) Bronstein, MC, USNR. Bronstein and her sister ship, McCloy (DE-1038), were built as the prototypes for a new generation of antisubmarine warfare ocean escorts with a large bow-mounted AN/SQS-26 sonar to detect and track enemy submarines, and an eight cell RUR-5 Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC) launcher to attack and sink them. The design included a ‘mack,’ which combined the mainmast, with its vital radar and radio antennae, and the smokestack. In addition, a minimal flight deck and hangar were to accommodate a Gyrodyne QH-50C drone anti-submarine helicopter (DASH). The drones were still in the development and testing stage, however, and the ships did not initially receive any.
Although otherwise innovative, the single screw ships proved slow for battle group operations. Furthermore, their top heavy design and large sonar domes caused them to trim by the bow, especially at high speeds. Bronstein and McCloy crashed down into the swells with a thunderous shudder and rolled unmercifully in heavy seas, and crewmen learned to hang on precariously when the ships heeled 30° — or more. “The foc’sle was always awash, even in moderate seas,” Capt. Richard S. Callas, who served as McCloy’s assistant navigator, recalled. “Yet despite her poor design and poor sea-keeping qualities, McCloy consistently ‘steamed,’ operating from the ice flows in the Arctic to the Caribbean to the Mediterranean Sea. I think as a result, the ship produced some very proficient and seasoned ship handlers.” Callas’ observations apply equally to Bronstein, and her sailors’ often sardonically quipped “Rock and Roll!” when heavy seas pounded the ship. Bronstein’s forward twin 3-inch gun turret was enclosed and somewhat sheltered her Gunner’s Mates (GMs) from the elements, but the aft gun mount remained exposed and salt spray invariably drenched the GMs.
Bronstein could steam nearly 4,000 miles at an average speed of advance of 15 knots, which enabled her to cover most projected convoy routes without extensive supplies. In order to reduce logistic requirements she was designed to carry 140,000 gallons of fuel, 20,000 gallons of fresh and feed water (replaced at a rate of 10,000 gallons per day), and stores for a period of up to 45 days. In practice, however, her evaporators for 1A and 1B Boilers rarely provided enough fresh water for all of the crew’s shower needs when the men operated in the tropics and veterans quickly learned to detest the unique scents provided by their comrades. In addition, the laundry often broke down during her later years at sea, and consequently soiled uniforms became a burden for the sailors. Finally, her stores quickly grew stale in the hot weather and the men learned to live on powdered eggs and other unsavory delicacies.
The ship completed fitting out at Charleston, and stood down the channel for her new homeport of Naval Station (NS) San Diego, Calif. (30 August–17 September 1963). She passed through the Panama Canal and visited Acapulco, Mexico, during her voyage to the west coast. Upon reaching the Pacific Fleet, Bronstein began administratively serving with Escort Division (CortDiv) 32, and spent the next two months undergoing tests and trials. The Pacific Section of the Board of Inspection and Survey carried out her final acceptance trials on 3 and 4 December, and the ship completed her post shakedown availability during the holidays.
Bronstein carried out refresher training with Fleet Training group San Diego (13 April–8 May 1964), a grueling regimen she normally accomplished after yard work or prior to a deployment. The ship followed that training with sonar calibration trials at Dabob Bay near Seattle, Wash. (20 May–16 June 1964), and then (27 July–6 August) a restricted yard availability at Long Beach Naval Shipyard, Calif. The escort ship participated in Pacific Fleet exercise Hard Shot (9–20 September), an Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3 operational readiness exercise in Hawaiian waters (23 October–10 November), and rounded out the year by conducting operational sonar tests in the mid-Pacific (26–29 November 1964).
Early in the New Year on 1 January 1965, Bronstein relieved Hooper (DE-1026) as the flagship of Escort Squadron (CortRon) 3, and shifted from the administrative control of CortDiv 32 to CortRon 31. The ship completed a restricted yard availability at Long Beach (14–29 January), and then set out for Cruise 1 of F/O 185, a Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) antisubmarine warfare project (8–26 March). A sonar equipment failure, however, compelled the ship to put in for repairs at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, Calif. (10–15 March). Bronstein completed additional work while alongside a tender at San Diego (27 March–9 April), and then (13–24 May and 25 June–2 July) accomplished the second and third cruises of the project in the waters off Baja California. The ship completed her DASH installation and trials inport and at sea during most of the remaining summer (3–25 July and 28 July–13 August, respectively). Following a brief (14 August–2 September) restricted yard availability at Long Beach, the ship returned to sea for a series of exercises in the eastern Pacific: Composite Training Unit Exercise (CompTuEx) 17-65 (13–16 September); antisubmarine hunter killer HukASWEx 8-65 (20–24 September); and First Fleet exercises Ragweed (1–7 October) and Baseline and HukASWEx 9-65 (23–30 October). Additional yard work at Long Beach (23 November–13 December 1965) prepared the ship for her impending deployment.
Bronstein sailed on her maiden deployment during a voyage with Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3 to the western Pacific (7 January–26 July 1966). The ship served as the flagship for CortRon 3 during the westward cruise (7–11 January), visited Pearl Harbor, Hi., and then trained in Hawaiian waters (23 January–6 February) and resumed her voyage. After a brief (17–20 February) visit to Yokosuka, Japan, the group steamed under the command of the Seventh Fleet to Yankee Station and entered the Vietnam War. The Americans created Yankee and Dixie Stations as carrier operating areas from which to prosecute the war. Aircraft carriers operated against the North Vietnamese primarily from northernmost area in the Gulf of Tonkin — designated Point Yankee and then Yankee Station. In April 1966, they shifted Yankee north to an area 125 miles east of Dong Hoi at 17º30’N, 108º30’E. The move reduced the distance that aircraft flew to reach North Vietnamese targets, but Yankee subsequently returned to its original position in 1968. When intensive bombing resumed in 1972 it shifted northward, designated as North, Mid, and South at 19º, 17º, and 16º N, respectively.
While Bronstein operated on the ship’s first line period on Yankee Station, she participated in extensive antisubmarine exercises and several antiaircraft gunnery shoots. She then came about and accomplished voyage repairs alongside repair ship Markab (AR-23) in Manila in the Philippines (26 April–9 May 1966). The escort ship alternated between in port time at Kaohsiung, Taiwan (12–16, 21–26, and 28–30 April), and patrolling the Taiwan Strait during a fleeting sojourn northward (12 April–7 May). Bronstein returned to Manila for a restricted availability, but Typhoon Irma swept across western Luzon as it cut a deadly northerly path toward Japanese waters, and the ship emergency sorted to escape the tempest (17–21 May). The ship then took part in Sea Imp, an extensive Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) fleet exercise involving multiple allied ships and aircraft (22 May–5 June). She followed that by visiting Bang Saen, Thailand (6–9 June), and then carrying out advanced antisubmarine training and hunting for East Bloc submarines while en route (9–17 June) to a visit to Hong Kong (18–23 June). Bronstein returned to Yankee for what turned out to be the ship’s second and final line period of the tour (25 June–2 July), before she came about and made for Yokosuka, where she completed upkeep (8–14 July) and then set out for home.
After returning from her maiden deployment, Bronstein accomplished a tender availability alongside Jason (AR-8) in San Diego (3–17 September 1966), took part in a series of combined air, surface, and submarine exercises designated Holdowns 6-66, 7-66, and 8-66 (18–23 September, 22–25 October, and 12–18 November, respectively), and in the First Fleet’s Ex 9-66 Baseline II (13–21 October). These high tempo operations customarily too their toll on the ship, and she carried out another availability alongside destroyer tender Dixie (AD-14) at San Diego (26 October–11 November), and additional work at Long Beach (19 November–19 December). The ship began the New Year by participating First Fleet exercises Snatch Block and two more training exercises in southern Californian waters (5–12 January, 18–27 January, and 13–24 February 1967, respectively).
Following a slight delay because of a change of orders, Bronstein deployed in company with Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3, Rear Adm. Harry L. Harty Jr., in command, to the western Pacific (27 March–28 October 1967). Antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Hornet (CVS-12) and eight other destroyers and escort ships also comprised the group, and Cmdr. Robert E. McCabe, Commander CortRon 3, broke his flag in Bronstein during this voyage. After battling heavy seas during readiness training in Hawaiian waters and carrying out upkeep at Pearl Harbor (9–17 April 1967), Bronstein set out with four additional ships that reinforced the group — destroyers Taylor (DD-468) and Walker (DD-517), antisubmarine destroyer Jenkins (DDE-447), and escort ship Davidson (DE-1045). The ships crossed the Pacific without incident and reached Yokosuka for a transitory visit (29 April–4 May).
Bronstein then coordinated antisubmarine training with Japanese and South Korean forces in the Sea of Japan (4–17 May 1967). On 10 May, Walker relieved Taylor of screening duty for Hornet from Soviet Kotlin class destroyer (DD-022), as the Russian warship attempted to close Hornet and harass the group. The ships collided and sustained minor damage. The next day, Walker again screened a Soviet ship, and late that afternoon, a Soviet Krupnyy class destroyer (DDGS-025) maneuvered in an attempt to close Hornet; but Walker effectively turned the intruder away. The Soviet destroyer than signaled a left turn. Walker signaled “do not cross ahead of me,” but the other ship came left and collided with Walker, causing minor damage to both vessels. Following that dramatic Cold War confrontation Bronstein visited Sasebo, Japan (18–19 May).
The ship then sailed for Yankee Station, a “generally uneventful” voyage southward, Lt. Cmdr. Watson, the commanding officer, wrote to the crew’s families, but added that the ship “encountered moderately rough seas for the first time since leaving the Hawaiian area.” The sea calmed “quickly” as the ship passed Hainan Island, and McCabe coordinated antisubmarine training among ships and aircraft operating in the Gulf of Tonkin (26 May–25 June 1967). During their rare moments off watch some of the crewmen played volleyball on the flight deck, and others developed a boxing team and competed against allied vessels. The escort ship completed upkeep during rainy weather at Subic Bay in the Philippines (28 June–4 July), where the crew held a two day ship’s birthday party on Isla Grande, the island that guarded the mouth of the bay. Bronstein visited Manila (7–9 July), and then conducted a series of gunfire, communication, and antisubmarine exercises in Philippine waters. Following the warm-up phase she anchored in Lingayen Gulf, where the ships company enjoyed their first swim call of the cruise (16–17 July). Bronstein joined Australian, Filipino, New Zealand, Thai, and U.S. ships and aircraft escorting a convoy to the Gulf of Thailand during SEATO exercise Sea Dog (17–25 July). Following the exercise she anchored at Bang Saen (26–27 July) and proceeded up the Chao Phraya, which journalists colorfully dubbed the “River of Kings,” to Bangkok, Thailand (27–29 July).
After another tour in the Vietnam War (3–13 August 1967), the ship made for Hong Kong, though Tropical Storm Iris delayed her arrival several hours (16–19 August). The stormy weather continued to plague Bronstein and Tropical Storm Louise compelled to the ship leave the British Crown Colony a day earlier than planned. Because of their unexpected departure, the Americans left behind several hundred dollars-worth of goods that they had ordered and expected to claim later that day. The ship visited Kaohsiung (21 August–10 September), where she dispatched Ens. Brian Bailey, the Supply Officer, back to Hong Kong by air where, in a matter of two frustrating days, he gathered all of their purchases and mailed them back to the ship. Tropical Storm Joan and Typhoon Kate, however, slammed into the region and interrupted the ship’s time at Kaohsiung, driving her out to sea for a day in the midst of the visit, because the storms “couldn’t decide quite in which direction they should head,” Watson noted to the families. The ship returned to the Gulf of Tonkin for her last line period of the deployment (14 September–6 October), and then came about and visited Yokosuka (13–15 October) on her long voyage home.
Bronstein joined guided missile escort ship Schofield (DEG-3 — not yet commissioned), and destroyers James E. Kyes (DD-787) -- which became the flagship -- Everett F. Larson (DD-830), Frank E. Evans (DD-754), and Walke (DD-723) in Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 23 on 1 February 1968. Five days later Bronstein was assigned Long Beach as her new home port, and then completed an overhaul there (5 February–11 October). Following the ship’s refresher training, she took part with Antisubmarine Warfare Group 1 in exercise HUKASWEx 12-68 off Baja California (2–8 December 1968).
The escort ship began to regain her stride that winter when she worked with Antisubmarine Warfare Group 1 in First Fleet antisubmarine exercise Bell Curve, and in tactical development exercises Uptide 1A and Uptide 1B, off southern California (8–16 January, 3–9 February, and 25 February–5 March 1969, respectively). Bronstein deployed as part of Antisubmarine Warfare Group 1, Rear Adm. Jerome H. King Jr., in command, and also comprising Kearsarge (CVS-33) and DesRon 23, to the western Pacific (29 March–21 November 1969). The ships carried out readiness training in Hawaiian waters while en route (7–14 April), and stopped briefly (26–30 April) at Yokosuka. Bronstein conducted her first line period in the Gulf of Tonkin (4–14 May), completed voyage repairs at Subic Bay (17–20 May), and then hosted thousands of visitors at Manila while representing the U.S. during the opening ceremonies of SEATO Operation Sea Spirit (22–26 May).
Rear Adm. King broke his flag in Bronstein when he sortied the Australian, British, Philippine, New Zealand, Thai, and U.S. ships from Manila into the South China Sea for Sea Spirit on 26 May 1969. During the mid watch on 3 June, however, Frank E. Evans (DD-754) and Australian light aircraft carrier Melbourne (R.21) collided while operating in the South China Sea, killing 74 of the destroyer’s men and sinking the forward section of the ship, though Australian and American sailors valiantly rescued the survivors. Bronstein joined allied ships that escorted Melbourne to Singapore for urgent repairs following the tragic collision, and then accomplished additional upkeep at Subic Bay (7–8 June).
Bronstein put in to Kaohsiung (11–16 June 1969), and the next day while en route from that port to Yankee Station, she responded to a distress call from Taiwanese fishing vessel Lung-Chiang, which had been adrift for five days. The escort diverted and made for the area, and took the stricken fishing boat in tow to safety at Kaohsiung. Bronstein returned to Yankee Station (19 June–3 July), but the sea proved a harsh mistress and she came about and carried out emergency repairs to the sonar dome while in dry dock at Sasebo (9–18 July). The ship then hunted allied submarines in company with Japanese and U.S. ships in Beach King (19–21 July). Following that exercise she returned to Sasebo (22–23 July), and then (26 July–7 September) joined the Taiwan Patrol, operating independently under Seventh Fleet command in the Taiwan Strait, and taking a brief respite from her attentiveness to visit Keelung (26–29 July and 3–5 and 18–20 August) and Kaohsiung (10–13 and 25–27 August and 3–6 September) in Taiwan, and Hong Kong (8–12 September). Bronstein worked with Schofield and James E. Kyes in ASWEx 2-70 off the east coast of Japan (18–29 September). The following day while steaming toward Kaohsiung, the ship was diverted to shadow and gather intelligence on an “out-of-area” Soviet task group operating in the Philippine Sea. Bronstein quickly refueled at Yokosuka and then served under the control of Task Force (TF) 34 in the Marianas (1–12 October) and then (12–17 October) the Seventh Fleet. The busy ship refueled at Sasebo on 17 October and Kaohsiung on 21 October, made another tour on Taiwan Patrol (21–24 October), the following day refueled at Kaohsiung, and completed maintenance in dry dock at Yokosuka (28 October–5 November 1969) before she sailed for home. She continued to serve under the administrative command of Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla 3 and DesRon 23, but shifted to Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 232 on 1 January 1970.
The ship returned to her usual inter-deployment cycle of training and maintenance, participating under the control of Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3 in comprehensive submarine hunting exercises in southern Californian waters (7–13 January 1970), followed by HUKASWEx 1-70, which emphasized developing coordinated air and surface skills against submarines (28 January–8 February). She then (3–4 and 10–14 March) joined submarines of Submarine Flotilla 1 in a series of holding exercises followed by HoldEx 2-70 with the other ships of DesRon 23, in which they attempted to detect and track their elusive foes. Bronstein completed a shipyard restricted availability at Long Beach (15 March–15 June), and many of her crewmen attended schools and training ashore in the San Diego area during the first week of July.
The veteran escort operated as a plane guard for Ticonderoga (CVS-14) and tracked U.S. submarines while working with Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3 and DesRon 23 and HUKASWEx 2-70 off southern California (3–11 August and 24 August–1 September 1970, respectively). Nearly 40 ships and submarines took part in the First Fleet’s RopEval 4-70 off southern California (23 September–1 October). The exercise integrated antisubmarine forces in a multi-threat environment during a simulated East Bloc attack, and at times Bronstein escorted carriers and amphibious assault ships. The ship utilized electronic support measures, deception devices, and extended range sonars while training with Ticonderoga, Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3, and DesRon 23 in HUKASWEx 3-70 and 4-70 (12–16 and 21–29 October, respectively).
While Bronstein took part in one of these exercises, her DASH controller lost radar contact with the ship’s drone. Lt. Cmdr. Edward B. Baker, the commanding officer, directed the drone’s pilot, a young lieutenant, junior grade, that Baker recalled as a “competent” DASH operator who understood the idiosyncrasies of the system’s electronics, to command the aircraft to hover. Some of Bronstein’s consorts then joined her in searching for the wayward drone, though Ticonderoga opened the range in order to recover her own aircraft without interference. Baker offered the incentive of three days’ leave to anyone who could spot the drone and an “eagle-eye” chief quartermaster sighted the aircraft hovering above the swells, and the escort recovered the drone. The crew took special pride in operating DASH, but losing the expensive ($125,000) drones provided an added incentive to recovering them. “I was very young and wet behind the ears,” Baker explained his passion for the unmanned program, “and we [the crew] had a lot of spirit, we wanted to be the best with DASH, and we were.”
In addition, during HUKASWEx 4-70, Bronstein aided sailing vessel Dawn Hunter, whose mariner became lost in poor visibility while sailing from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor. The escort ship obtained a “fix” on Dawn Hunter and determined that the sailboat had drifted nearly 200 miles from her intended course, and guided the inexperienced boater to safety. The warship closed the year by taking part in CompTuEx 20A-70 with ships from DesRon 23 and DesRon 19 (16–19 November 1970). The Navy meanwhile cancelled the DASH program, however, leaving Bronstein with a flight deck and hangar that her crew normally used only for vertical replenishments with helicopters from other ships or shore stations -- the manned helos did not operate from the frigate -- and for captain’s calls and musters, as well as workouts and cookouts.
Bronstein began the year preparing to deploy to the western Pacific on 7 January 1971, but just two days before the ship was to deploy, she received a major change to DesRon 23’s operational schedule that would enable her to return early from the deployment to the eastern Pacific to take part in a First Fleet exercise. At 0930 on 7 January, Schofield, James E. Kyes, and Bronstein set sail for Hawaiian waters (7 January–6 February). The remaining ships of the squadron, guided missile destroyer John S. McCain (DDG-36) and Meyerkord (DE-1058), deployed in company with Ticonderoga earlier as part of Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3. Bronstein’s historian reported that the ship and her consorts meanwhile battled their way through an “opposed transit,” and then rendezvoused with the carrier and her screen, and the combined group fought through the enemy defenses “into the confines of Pearl Harbor.” At 0800 on 15 January, the group got underway for HUKASWEx 1-71, which was designed to test new antisubmarine detection and deception tactics. The ship turned to increasingly tense readiness antiair and antisubmarine drills, and then the UpTide portion of the exercise began at noon on 17 January. The escort towed a “noise indicator”, a device that introduced acoustic signatures common to aircraft carriers steaming through the waters north of the Hawaiian Islands, to simulate a carrier in order to deceive attack submarines Haddock (SSN-621) and Plunger (SSN-595) away from Ticonderoga, while the carrier operated as silently as possible. Bronstein concluded the exercise and entered Pearl Harbor on the morning of 25 January, but resumed the training briefly (28–29 January) before returning to Long Beach.
The warship’s sonar dome issues continued to plague her, however, and the system required repairs while the vessel entered Dry Dock No. 3 at Long Beach for ten days of work, beginning on 9 February 1971. Following the yard work, she took part with U.S. and Canadian ships and aircraft in First Fleet exercise Admixture about 250 miles west of San Diego (23 February–4 March). Bronstein and Meyerkord shifted from DesDiv 232 back to DesRon 23 on 1 April. Bronstein deployed in company with Ticonderoga and Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3 to the western Pacific (11 March–5 July). Some of the ships company attended briefings at Pearl Harbor (17–19 March), and the escort resumed her westward voyage. Bronstein steamed in the Gulf of Tonkin, during which photojournalists briefly (25–26 March) boarded the ship and interviewed some of her crewmen for a clip subsequently released to their families at home. The warship came about and accomplished upkeep at Subic Bay (7–11 April), and then stood down the channel for Singapore. Bronstein’s shellbacks initiated more than 90% of their shipmates into Neptune’s Realm when they crossed the equator on 15 April. The following day the ship refueled at British Naval Base Singapore (at Sembawang), passed through the Java Sea, and then (19–23 April) trained with Caiman (SS-323) in the Andaman Sea. While the ship steamed through the Sunda Strait the following day, her sailors manned the rail and laid a wreath in honor of the Allied crewmen who died when heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30) and Australian light cruiser Perth (D.29) were sunk fighting the Japanese in the Battle of Sunda Strait on 1 March 1942. Bronstein and Meyerkord next anchored in Man of War Anchorage at Singapore Roads (26–30 April).
Bronstein turned her prow northward, visited Hong Kong while en route to Japanese waters (5–11 May 1971), came about and performed an antisubmarine barrier patrol with Grayback (SS-574) in the Gulf of Tonkin (13–14 May), and took part in an air gunnery exercise off Okinawa. The ship put in to Yokosuka (18–25 May), and U.S. and Japanese observers embarked during ASWEx 3-71, a combined submarine hunting exercise against U.S. and Japanese submarines operating in the Sea of Japan (26 May–4 June). Bronstein and the other ships steamed through heavy fog in the Tsugaru Strait while they rounded the southern flank of Hokkaido and northern Honshū on 28 May, all the while attempting to outfox the ‘enemy’ submariners. The Soviets increased the tension when they monitored the operations, the first phase of which culminated in the allies establishing a barrier patrol to block submarines from penetrating the strait. Bronstein completed an availability alongside Dixie at Sasebo (5–16 June), during which some of her sonar components received an overhaul at Yokosuka. On 17 June Antisubmarine Warfare Group 3 became Task Group (TG) 70.4 and began a silent run into northern Pacific waters. Multiple Soviet ships and aircraft -- and very likely submarines -- shadowed the U.S. ships but gave the American crewmen valuable experience in electronic warfare operations. The group steamed through part of the Bering Sea (27–28 June), and John S. McCain and James E. Kyes detached to refuel at Adak, Alaska, before the ships rendezvoused and completed their voyage back to Long Beach.
The ship carried out her usual post-deployment standdown, and on 1 September, John S. McCain, Schofield, James E. Kyes, Bronstein, and Meyerkord were transferred from Long Beach to San Diego. Bronstein took part in another RopEval in early September, accomplished an availability alongside Piedmont (AD-17) and additional work ashore (17 September–12 October), and then (12 October 1971–17 May 1972) replaced Mount 31 with another twin 3-inch gun turret forward, converted the ship’s propulsion plant to Navy Distillate Fuel, overhauled the sonar system, and upgraded her communication capabilities during the overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Repeated problems encountered in overhauling the sonar, however, extended her time in the shipyard beyond the originally scheduled completion date of 13 March 1972.
In addition to sea trials before the end of the overhaul, the ship then (22 May–2 June 1972) carried out a series of tests at sea exercising her weapons and ensuring the correct alignment of the sonar system to the Main Battery Director. More than 3,000 people toured Bronstein when she served as the visit ship at Fleet Landing at the foot of Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego (16–18 June). Bronstein followed that ephemeral respite by completing refresher training under the operational command of Fleet Training Group San Diego (19 June–10 August). During the planned five weeks of training the ship (eventually) passed all of the required exercises, however, she failed the last of the three battle problems, necessitating scheduling of a repeat problem at a later date. The escort also took part in other operations, including SinkEx-72. A hulk was towed to a selected position, and explosives experts detonated a satchel charge beneath her keel. The ship broke in two immediately but did not sink, and Bronstein fired an ASROC, a torpedo, and 51 rounds of 3-inch projectiles to sink her. The warship also participated in CompTuEx 16A72 (7–10 August).
The ship set out as part of Task Unit (TU) 15.8.2, also consisting of guided missile frigate Jouett (DLG-29) and Ramsey (DEG-2), across the Pacific for the rigors of the Vietnam War again (19 August 1972–3 March 1973). The trio carried out gunnery training exercises, antisubmarine exercises, maneuvering drills, and damage control drills during their voyage, and reached Subic Bay on 11 September 1972. Upon arrival, the task unit was disestablished and Bronstein fell under the command of TF 75. The ship sailed from Philippine waters on 16 September, and two days later rendezvoused with attack aircraft carrier Oriskany (CVA-34) and TG 77.4 to operate as a mutual support ship. SA Peter Chan fell overboard from Oriskany on 25 September, and Bronstein closed and helped search for the man for 12 hours, but high seas and approaching darkness hindered the search and the searchers failed to find Chan. After that tragedy Bronstein resumed operations in the area, and on 28 September began serving as the mutual support ship for America (CVA-66) and TG 77.6. Typhoon Lorna compelled the ships to steam south at high speed for three days to avoid the tempest, and Bronstein completed upkeep alongside Piedmont at Subic Bay (9–22 October).
She returned to sea and began supporting Midway (CVA-41) and TG 77.3 on 22 October 1972. Bronstein stayed with the carrier through 33 grueling days, and then visited Hong Kong for a much-needed rest (25 November–5 December). The ship served as the senior officer present afloat (SOPA) in the first week of December until James E. Kyes relieved her, and then set a course for Subic Bay. Fighting continued in the Vietnam War, however, and the warship received orders while en route on 6 December to come about and make for the Gulf of Tonkin, where she assumed duties as the gunline command ship with TG 75.9, Capt. Creighton D. Lilly in command, the following day, who broke his flag in the ship. Bronstein fired her guns for the first time in anger during these tense days, and shot all of her 3-inch ammunition while providing naval gunfire support for the hard-pressed allied troops fighting ashore (7–8 December). A shortage of prepositioned 3-inch rounds in the region delayed Bronstein while the ship awaited reloads, and she then faithfully returned to the gunline and resumed blasting enemy soldiers on 14 December. On that same day the escort refueled a helicopter experiencing an emergency, the ships company utilizing helicopter inflight refueling techniques. Bronstein fired again at enemy troops ashore on 17 December, and that day received her first taste of counterbattery action when the enemy fired six rounds at the ship, all of which missed. The veteran escort disembarked Capt. Lilly and his staff two days later, and came about and rejoined TF 75, but suffered a casualty to 1A Boiler that impaired her mobility, and repaired the boiler alongside Bryce Canyon (AD-36) at Kaohsiung into the New Year (22 December 1972–1 January 1973).
The ship returned to the Gulf of Tonkin and supported Oriskany and TG 77.4 (2 January–1 February 1973). On 27 January, the Vietnam cease-fire, announced four days earlier, came into effect. Bronstein subsequently joined a number of ships of TF 77 for a series of photographs of the powerful force at sea including: America; Enterprise (CVAN-65); Oriskany; Ranger (CV-61); Cone (DD-866); Corry (DD-817); William C. Lawe (DD-763); and Fanning (DE-1076). The ships maneuvered at an average distance of 500 yards from each other in a tight formation. Bronstein escorted Oriskany to Subic Bay on 1 February, but the following day she steamed independently to Sasebo, where the ship completed voyage repairs and upkeep (6–14 February). Bronstein then steamed to Yokosuka and formed up with Cochrane (DDG-21), Preble (DLG-15), and Rathburne (DE-1057) as TU 70.0.7 and set out for home three days later on 17 February. The four ships joined the Third Fleet as TU 35.9.9 two days later, stopped at Midway on 22 February, and reached Pearl Harbor three days further on. Bronstein then detached and returned to San Diego individually.
Bronstein accomplished an extensive overhaul early in 1973, during which her aft 3-inch gun and captain’s gig were removed and replaced with the AN/SQR-15 Towed Array Surveillance System (TASS). The experimental system comprised more than 6,000 feet of 1.25-inch coaxial cable and hydrophones that could be streamed from the fantail to allow for passive sonar operations. Ocean Systems Technicians (OTs) operated a bank of AN/AQA-5 wide-band acoustic processors that processed the acoustic information from the TASS, from within a large equipment van installed into the hangar. The ship routinely operated independently or in company with only a single TASS-equipped companion while streaming the system to reduce the noise from other ships, usually extending the cable at distances of up to a mile from her fantail. The OTs proved adept at utilizing the system to detect East Bloc submarines at considerable ranges and depths, and their experience helped the Navy further develop similar systems and tactics. The ships company largely viewed TASS and their hunt for submarines with pride, and referred to the system as “The Tail.” While hunting for their elusive quarries, the commanding officers would often pass the word over the 1MC main circuit public address system that they intended to “Drop The Tail” when they streamed the system. The Operations Specialists (OSs) painted the door into the Combat Information Center (CIC) with a picture of the ship streaming her cable, which turned into a King Cobra dripping blood from its fangs, the blood in turn becoming oil, while at the bottom a Soviet Yankee class ballistic missile submarine sank, her hull cleanly showing two fang holes leaking oil. In order to stream the system and properly analyze the data, however, the ship had to slow to barely steerageway, which caused the crew hardship in heavy seas. In addition, the ship received a satellite navigation system and the OMEGA radio navigation system.
In company with Somers (DDG-34) and Rogers (DD-876) the ship took part in the Seattle Seafair (27 July–20 August). Bronstein was originally scheduled to depart with her consorts on 7 August, but a casualty to one of the forced air blowers delayed her departure. Bronstein joined Lockwood (DE-1064) as Task Element 184.108.40.206 for operations off San Clemente Island, following which they made for Pearl Harbor (4–10 September). The pair of escorts joined Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and U.S. ships and submarines in RimPac 73 (11–20 September) before returning to Pearl Harbor the following day. Bronstein and Horne (DLG-30) returned together to San Diego, reaching their home port on 28 September. Bronstein took part in CompTuEx 12-73 in southern Californian waters (29 October–4 November).
The ship deployed in company with Kitty Hawk (CVA-63), Bainbridge (DLGN-25), Schofield, Kirk (FF-1087), and Lockwood as TG 37.5 to the western Pacific (23 November 1973–25 May 1974). The task group reached Pearl Harbor at the end of the month, and Bronstein, Schofield, and Kirk detached and participated in CompTuEx 13-73 off Oahu. Bronstein returned to Pearl Harbor on 3 December, and the next day stood down that channel in company with Schofield, Kirk, and Lockwood as TU 35.8.3 and resumed the westerly voyage. The ships refueled at Midway four days later, reached the Seventh Fleet as TU 75.5.2 on 11 December, and Bronstein set off on her own and refueled at Apra (14–17 December). The escort used TASS to search for Soviet submarines in the area, and then made for Philippine waters, spending the holidays at Subic Bay, beginning on 22 December 1973.
She operated locally with Kitty Hawk and Lockwood, and in TASS operations with antisubmarine aircraft, Kitty Hawk, and Blueback (SS-581), in January 1974. Bronstein set out for Taiwanese waters and a brief visit to Keelung (14–26 January), where she operated with Kitty Hawk, Horne, and Kirk. The escort observed tropical working hours while she visited Manila (5–8 February), and then set sail with Kitty Hawk, Somers, and Kirk as TG 77.7, Capt. Robert C. Conolly II, in command, for the Indian Ocean. Bronstein began the trip as a plane guard astern of the carrier. Mispillion (AO-105) joined the formation, and Bronstein conducted TASS and passive sonar searches while they crossed that ocean. The ships deployed to the area largely to “counter the ever increasing presence of the Russian fleet in Indian Ocean waters,” Lt. Cmdr. Marvel H. Loy, the commanding officer, noted to their families back home, adding that the determined Soviets “impressed” the Americans.
The ship moored to a pair of buoys at Kilindini while she visited Mombasa, Kenya (20–26 March 1974). Many crewmen took safaris into the national parks and witnessed a variety of wild animals, and particular thrilled spotting elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffes, and zebras at the Tsavo Game Reserve. In addition, Bronstein crossed the equator during her time in that region. “King Neptune and his royal court,” Lt. Cmdr. Loy explained, “as played by our experienced, trusty, revered, knowledgeable, magnificent shellbacks…[turned the] miserable, slimy, scaly pollywogs into old salts.” From time-to-time, the ship also held swim calls, lowering the motor whaleboat with lifeguards and allowing the men to dive into the balmy tropical water. Fast combat support ship Sacramento (AOE-1) relieved Mispillion and the latter came about for home. The task group turned their prows eastward on 12 April, rendezvoused at one point with White Plains (AFS-4), and Bronstein moored at Rivera Pier at Subic Bay on 27 April. Badger (DE-1071), Bronstein, and Lockwood shaped a homeward course on 4 May, refueled at Apra on 9 May, spent 15 days at Midway refueling and carrying out upkeep before they resumed their voyage, stopped for barely six hours at Pearl Harbor on 18 May, and then returned to San Diego. Following the usual post-deployment standdown, the ship celebrated Independence Day at Eureka, Calif., and briefly stopped at San Francisco en route her return (1–10 July 1974). Bronstein trained with Coral Sea (CV-43), Enterprise, and Coral Sea again off southern California (6–9 and 14–26 August and 27–31 October, respectively). Canadian destroyer St. Croix (DDE.256) meanwhile visited San Diego on 27 September, and the two wardrooms ate lunch together at the Officer’s Club at 32nd Street on the naval station, while the senior enlisted men held a reception for their allies at the less sedate Acey-Deucey Club. The ship wrapped up the year by training with Kirk and Lockwood (2–6 December 1974).
Bronstein took part in a TASS exercise with Albert David (DE-1050) and Darter (SS-576) off southern California (5–11 January 1975). Albert David also received TASS in 1973, and the two ships often worked together hunting Soviet submarines. Bronstein put her “tail” in the water during another TASS exercise later that month (27–31 January). Early the next month, Capt. Donald P. Roane, Commander DesRon 23, presented Lt. Dean A. Knuth and Lt. Matthew F. Moran the Navy Commendation Medal for the “skillful and innovative” doctrines they conceived while testing TASS on board Bronstein. The ship was one of the first to receive TASS in the Navy, and the two men worked tirelessly developing the tactics and procedures to operate the system.
The ship next returned to the western Pacific (25 February–7 October 1975). She joined TU 170.7.2 for Rim of the Pacific (RimPac) 75, a multinational exercise involving 30 American, Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand ships and submarines. The escort operated with aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk (CV-63) and eight other ships en route to Hawaiian waters, and on 7 March detached with O’Callahan (DE-1051) and oiler Ponchatoula (AO-148), and Bronstein moored starboard side to Horne at Pearl Harbor. Following the ship’s transitory visit, she stood down the channel for RimPac 75, and carried out antiair and electronic exercises, and dual TASS operations with Albert David in Hawaiian waters (11–21 March).
Bronstein resumed her westward voyage two days later and on 26 March 1975 refueled at Midway Island. “We participated in a record (of sorts) on Midway,” Lt. Cmdr. Loy observed in a letter to their families back home. “The day we refueled was the coldest maximum temperature on record; 55 degrees F. Even the thousands of nesting “gooney” birds, for which Midway is famous, were quiet.” Lt. Lee Clark, CHC, the squadron’s chaplain, performed Easter services on the flight deck on 30 March. “The grandeur and immensity of the sea that attracts a man,” Loy compellingly summarized, “was particularly potent that morning.” The ship continued independently and on 2 April stopped at Guam. Brief afternoon showers cooled the average temperatures that soared into the 90s, and many of the crewmen who were sailing on their first deployment marveled at the “clear and brilliant turquoise” sea. The ship held a picnic ashore, and coconuts that littered the beach provided a welcome repast for the men.
The ship performed operations locally, and then refueled on 10 April 1975 and continued to Philippine waters, accomplishing voyage repairs and maintenance at Subic Bay (14–19 April). The escort stopped briefly on 23 April to refuel and to pick up TASS parts at Okinawa, and then operated in the East China Sea. The ship was scheduled to stop at Pusan (Busan), South Korea, but a small yet significant gear in an oil pump broke, and she refueled and had a new gear manufactured at Sasebo (28 April–4 May). The crew enjoyed the liberty in spite of the daily rain showers and the high prices, and then Bronstein set out as part of TF 75 for operations off the Marianas Islands. She thus missed Operation Frequent Wind — the evacuation of Americans and allied nationals from Saigon, South Vietnam, on 29 April, but when Bronstein visited Apra, Guam (8–19 May), the crew witnessed multiple ships carrying thousands of refugees enter the harbor. About 30 crewmen volunteered to help some of these ships disembark their passengers, and move them to Operation New Life, a camp located on the naval station that ultimately housed as many as 37,000 people and acquired the nickname of “Tent City”. A number of South Vietnamese aircraft that also fled the collapse of the country and flew to Thailand were unloaded ashore in proximity to the ship.
Bronstein conducted operations in the area, stopped again at Apra (24–27 May and 2–5 June 1975), and utilized TASS to search for Soviet submarines lurking in those waters. The ship pulled out independently as TG 72.0 and steamed to Hong Kong, mooring to Buoy No. 2 at Victoria in company with amphibious assault ship Okinawa (LPH-3) for a week (12–18 June). Crewmen shopped for ivory, furniture, clothes, and embroidery, though some sailors complained about the exorbitant prices. In addition, a Department of Defense program existed for reduced international air fares, and some of the men’s wives flew out to tour the British Crown Colony with their husbands. Bronstein steamed singly to Subic Bay, stopping to refuel and replenish on 20 June, before returning to sea for local operations with TU 75.4.1, comprising Gridley (DLG-21), Horne, Lang (DE-1060), Meyerkord, and Kawishiwi (AO-146). The ship visited Subic Bay into the following month. Bronstein was reclassified to a frigate (FF-1037) on 30 June 1975.
The newly designated frigate operated as part of TF 72 with TU 77.3.7, consisting of Hancock (CV-19) and Brewton (FF-1086), plane guarding the carrier and continuing onward to operate near Taiwan, before coming about for the now familiar port of Subic Bay (9–24 July 1975). The crew “fought back with umbrellas and raincoats,” Lt. Cmdr. William J. Flanagan Jr., the new commanding officer, dourly wrote to their families as torrential monsoon rains belted the area, adding that “when it’s not raining, it’s very hot and humid”. Bronstein trained with Kitty Hawk as part of TG 77.7, coordinating TASS operations with the carrier and the other ships of the task group (8–13 August). The frigate returned to Subic Bay to have a hole in her shaft repaired while on the blocks in non-self-propelled medium auxiliary floating dry dock AFDM-6 (14–22 August). Bronstein moored at Rivera Pier at Subic Bay to examine the efficacy of the repairs, carried out sea trials, and then resumed towing her TASS while operating with Kitty Hawk during a major Seventh Fleet exercise that required her crew to double their watches and man their battle stations “at all hours of the day and night” (25 August–2 September). The following day Bronstein visited Subic Bay for the last time during the deployment and then turned her prow toward home, completing maintenance at Apra (8–21 September) and hunting for Soviet submarines near Rota before returning to Apra the next day. She then resumed the voyage to the United States, escorted a U.S. submarine part of the way, refueled at Midway on 28 September and on the first of the month at Pearl Harbor, and moored portside to Kirk at Pier 3 NS San Diego at 1100 on 7 October. On 9 December, the ship got underway again for the first time since returning from her deployment and trained with Tang (SS-563). Nearly 1,000 people visited Bronstein when she moored to Broadway Pier on 12 December, and the ships company held a Christmas party for 30 children from families receiving welfare benefits.
Bronstein streamed TASS while hunting Barb (SSN-596) during an exercise off southern California (21–23 January 1976). She evaluated the system during another cruise (4–6 February), and then (1–12 March) used it as TU 177 while taking part in multinational fleet exercise Valiant Heritage. The ship received many accolades and hosted VIPs during her career, but on 1 April Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf II, boarded and presented her with the coveted DesRon Battle Efficiency “E”. The frigate shifted her home port from San Diego to Long Beach on 3 May, and fleet ocean tug Mataco (ATF-86) took her in tow to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Long Beach (10–11 May). On 17 May the ship was towed to Bethlehem Steel’s San Pedro yard on Terminal Island for a $5 million overhaul that included installing fuel oil overflow piping, a shipboard sewage holding system, and a first class petty officer’s mess.
The ship conducted sea trials early in the New Year, and shifted her home port back to San Diego on 17 January 1977, moving there shortly thereafter (31 January–2 February). Following the yardwork she took part in a series of training exercises in southern Californian waters: refresher training (4 April–6 May); antisubmarine training in Hawaiian waters (4–27 August); Pacific Fleet exercise FleetEx 2-77 (16–25 September); in company with John Paul Jones (DDG-32) for Baja 23, which included a brief visit to Acapulco (11–26 October); tracked U.S. submarines during Cast Op (7–8 November); and wrapped-up the year with two more Pacific Fleet evolutions — Tac Ex and ReadiEx 1-78 (14–17 November and 6–15 December 1977, respectively).
Bronstein entered the next year by participating in a CompTuEx (16–21 January 1978), and then (24 January–2 February) ReadiEx 2-78, serving with Enterprise (CVN-65) and TU 176.1.5. The doughty frigate resumed training with the ships of that task unit during Sharem 24, an antisubmarine readiness evaluation and measurement (13–18 February). Bronstein deployed to the western Pacific (4 April–29 October 1978), operating with allied ships including Melbourne during RimPac 78 in Hawaiian waters through 22 April. The ship visited Pearl Harbor (23–24 April), steamed west and put in to Subic Bay, but on the evening of 25 May the frigate learned that her visit was cut short by a couple of days in order to carry out special operations. The ships company worked feverously to wrap-up the remaining upkeep and she set out on time the following morning. Bronstein steamed at high speed to the area and began monitoring and tracking her East Bloc prey. The tense situation helped her men better understand their systems and tactics, and the operation ended with the ship in northern waters, so she visited Pusan (25–29 June) and then (2–18 July) Yokosuka, where the availability of shore steam enabled the crew and yard workers to complete repairs to the boilers.
The ship sailed around Honshū and entered the Inland Sea to visit Kure (21–23 July 1978), where some of her officers visited the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Academy at Etajima. A detachment of American midshipmen had boarded the ship in Yokosuka, and they exchanged with seven of their Japanese counterparts, who embarked during the return voyage to Yokosuka. Bronstein visited the South Korean naval station at Chinhae (10–11 August), and then (12–15 August) took part in Sharem 26. After another brief (16–18 August) stop at Chinhae, the ship headed for Keelung, but Typhoon Carmen delayed the warship’s arrival by a day. The ship originally intended to follow that visit by putting in to Hong Kong, but the weather continued to interfere and Typhoon Elaine tracked toward the colony, so the Navy ordered the ship to stay at Keelung through the end of the month. Bronstein thus missed visiting the popular liberty port but entered Kaohsiung instead (1–3 September). The ships company sharpened their active submarine hunting skills while working with 16 U.S. and Nationalist Chinese ships and submarines in Sharkhunt XXVII (4–6 September). The Americans wrapped-up some briefings with the allies during a visit to Kaohsiung (7–8 September), and then completed an availability to work on the boilers at Subic Bay (10–20 September). Bronstein encountered navigation issues maneuvering around merchant ships and numerous fishing boats while working with two carriers and their screens during ReadiEx 1-79 (21 September–1 October). Upon concluding the exercise, she carried out special operations at the behest of the Seventh Fleet (2–10 October). After a short stop at Guam for maintenance, Bronstein joined John Paul Jones, Hull (DD-945), Albert David, combat store ship Mars (AFS-1), and replenishment oiler Roanoke (AOR-7) for the return voyage. Mars and Roanoke were detached on 26 October and proceeded to San Francisco, while the rest of the ships continued to San Diego.
After the usual post-deployment standdown, Bronstein streamed TASS in southern Californian waters during two exercises designed to achieve her maximum state of readiness in the event of a war against the East Bloc, a series of TASS operations and then TASSEx 1-79 (9–16 January and 16–21 April 1979, respectively). The ship next turned northward and plowed through heavy seas off northern California and southern Oregon while en route to the Portland Rose Festival (4–15 June). She embarked visitors at Astoria, Ore., and crewmen proudly guided the people through tours of the ship. Well-wishers waved to the sailors from passing boats and ashore, and some women held up signs with their phone numbers, as Bronstein steamed up the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, a bright red rose painted on the port side of her bridge. Fireboats shot geysers of water skyward while crowds thronged the bridges and cheered as Bronstein and the other ships of the ‘Rose Squadron’ moored along Portland’s riverfront. People invited sailors and marines into their homes for dinner, or purchased drinks for the men with the friendly reprimand: “Put your money away, it’s no good here.” Many crewmen considered the Portland Rose Festival the best liberty of the year, and compared the warm welcome the people of the Pacific Northwest gave them against the alienation they often felt from the people of southern California, where many Californians continued to resent veterans following the turmoil of the Vietnam War.
Following that liberty the ship resumed working up for her forthcoming deployment, and streamed the “tail” during TASS Op 1-79 (8–27 July 1979) and Sharem 32 (6–11 August). The pounding at sea took its toll, however, and she completed repairs to the rudder post in dry dock at Long Beach (17 August–9 September). Bronstein fought heavy seas while operating with U.S. and Canadian ships, including Canadian destroyer Gatineau (DDE.236), during multithreat exercise Kernel Potlach II in the north Pacific (24 September–6 October). The ship took what many men hoped would be a welcome respite from the harsh weather and sailed up the Fraser River to visit New Westminster, British Columbia (7–9 October). Fog blanketed the area, however, and she narrowly avoided colliding with a merchantman when the navigation team momentarily failed to visually identify prominent navigational marks in the dense soup, and watchstanders could not cut a reliable radar fix. The merchantman careened past to port with bare feet to spare, her siren blaring a warning. Upon mooring, however, the crew of Gatineau hosted some of the men from Bronstein on board their destroyer, the Canadians’ bar proving a special favorite with their allies.
Bronstein deployed to the western Pacific (13 November 1979–1 May 1980). The ship’s schedule included taking part in nearly two weeks of training exercises, but on 4 November 1979 a mob of Iranian revolutionaries seized 66 Americans, including a naval aviator and 14 marines, at the U.S. Embassy and the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehrān, Iran. The revolutionaries’ demands included the return to Iran of deposed Shah Mohammad R. Pahlavi, who was in the U.S. The tensions between the two nations increased, and while Bronstein steamed toward a training rendezvous during a mid watch she received an urgent message to cancel the training and make for Hawaiian waters. The ship steamed quietly up the darkened channel into Pearl Harbor to briefly refuel and rearm during the second dog watch on 21 November. Some of her men helped load supplies and then slipped off to a nearby bar that surreptitiously served them into the wee hours and they returned greatly relaxed to man their stations, despite Navy regulations to the contrary, as the ship set out again shortly after daybreak.
The frigate and her consorts resumed their westward journey and approached the Marianas while taking part in a TransitEx — an opposed exercise designed to test their abilities to surprise the enemy during a war. The stealthy ships steamed with emission control procedures that reduced their radar and radio signals, intending to bypass the opposing forces without being detected. As they neared Guam on 30 November 1979, however, four USAF McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs suddenly hurtled past at low altitude, the “enemy” jets thunderously announcing that the ships failed to gain tactical surprise. Bronstein refueled at Apra the following day, and then continued through heavy seas to the Philippines, carrying out upkeep at Subic Bay (9–10 and 13–31 December) in between local operations. The ship spent 113 days at sea and 252 in port in 1979.
As Bronstein entered the New Year 1980 the ship received orders directing her to relieve other vessels deployed to the western Pacific, so that those ships could steam to the Indian Ocean to operate in the hostage crisis with the Iranians. The frigate correspondingly remained in Philippine waters and the South China Sea, alternating her time at sea with brief periods of upkeep at Subic Bay (1–4, 7–9, 14–27, and 29–30 January 1980). During one of these times at sea Bronstein determinedly tracked an intrusive Soviet submarine until a storm overtook the ship with heavy rain, wind, and swells. “Attention in the pilothouse,” Lt. (j.g.) David Dunning, the communications officer, ominously alerted the watchstanders, “Stand by for heavy rolls”, as a series of mountainous waves crashed into the ship. The men clung desperately to their stations as the frigate plunged down into each trough, shaking as she defiantly rose toward the crest, only to repeat the nerve-wracking process, until she finally conceded defeat and broke off pursuing the Russian boat and turned from the gale.
Early the following month the ship stood out with Long Beach (CGN-9), Worden (CG-18), and Albert David to visit the bustling crossroads of Singapore. Albert David suffered a main engine casualty and under tow of the cruiser and later Military Sealift Command-manned fleet ocean tug Ute (T-ATF-76) returned to Subic Bay. The other ships continued the voyage, and proceeded past merchantmen and fishing dhows up the crowded Johor Strait and moored at Sembawang (11–15 February). Bronstein then set out for the Philippines but temporarily diverted southward so her shellbacks could initiate nearly two-thirds of the crew into their exalted order as the ship crossed the equator on 16 February, before returning to Subic Bay for upkeep (21 February–2 March). The ship then charted northerly courses and took part in Sharem 35 (3–8, 10–15, and 17–20 March), refueling briefly in between her operations at Buckner Bay, Okinawa. She completed the exercise and returned to Okinawa, and set sail on 22 March for Korean waters. Many crewmen shopped in the International Market Place at Pusan when Bronstein visited that port (24–26 March). Some of the men purchased stereos and motorcycles at competitive prices compared to those listed in the U.S., and they laboriously loaded their finds on board and secured them in the hangar for the return voyage.
The ship held briefings with South Korean crews while at Chinhae (27–28 March), and then (29 March–2 April) joined her allies for Proud Spirit 80. The USN had transferred some Gearing (DD-710) and Allen M. Sumner (DD-692) class destroyers to the Republic of Korea Navy, but did so without ASROC, so that the ships relied primarily on Mark 11 Hedgehog antisubmarine projectors to battle submarines. The World War II-vintage weapons could only fire circular patterns out to about 200 yards, and at one point, an East Bloc submarine shadowed the allied ships. Some of the South Korean destroyers maneuvered aggressively, closing the range dangerously to pit their antiquated Hedgehogs against the shadowing boat. Soviet bombers, likely Tupolev Tu-16 Badgers or Tu-95 Bear-Ds, flew a long range mission from their Siberian airfields and harassed the ships on another occasion. Harsh weather also plagued Proud Spirit 80 and Bronstein once set an ice watch because of reports of pack ice spotted in the area. Bronstein wrapped-up the exercise and completed repairs at Sasebo (3–8 April), and then turned homeward, refueling briefly at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and stopping at Pearl Harbor (25–26 April), before returning to San Diego. Bronstein received her fifth consecutive Battle Efficiency E during 1980, and crewmen proudly painted a gold E on the ship.
The ship next completed an extensive overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard (30 September 1980–5 October 1981). A large non-self-propelled repair, berthing, and messing barge --YRBM(L) -- moored 50 feet aft of Bronstein during the overhaul. The barge could accommodate up to 257 men and included a galley, wardroom, laundry, barber shop, classroom, workshop, offices, and a storage area. Despite the Navy’s attempt to provide reasonable accommodations for the men, they largely grumbled about the incessant dust that permeated their eyes and nostrils, and the din that prevented sleep by all but the hardiest sailors. The frigate returned to sea on 6 October, and carried out a series of sea trials and upkeep in the San Diego area, but required further work at Long Beach (2–20 November). She then trained intermittingly off southern California and performed upkeep in San Diego into the following spring.
Bronstein deployed to the western Pacific (26 May–10 December 1982). She visited Pearl Harbor (8–11 June), and upon entering the western reaches of the Pacific accomplished a series of submarine hunting exercises (8–11 July) and ReconEx 82-3 (13–14 July), interspersed by periods of upkeep at Subic Bay (28 June–8 July and 11–12 and 15–22 July). The ship then repeated her previous deployment obligations and turned to northerly courses, and completed some voyage repairs and upkeep at Sasebo (26 July–4 August). Bronstein operated with Midway (CV-41) in Japanese waters (4–8 August), returned to Sasebo, and then helped escort Peleliu (LHA-5) in the Sea of Okhotsk (19–31 August). After another brief visit to Sasebo, the ship set out for Korean waters and held briefings at Chinhae (5–8 September) before joining the South Koreans for Tae Kwon Do 35 (8–12 September). The ship detached from the exercise for a two day search and rescue mission, completed upkeep at Sasebo (15 September–1 October), and then (2–5 October) visited Fukuoka on the northern coast of Kyūshū. Bronstein’s unique systems made her in high demand and the warship hunted Soviet submarines (5–10 October), following which she visited Kure (11–16 October). Multiples 83-1K consisted of another exercise with the South Koreans, and the frigate consequently put in to Pusan (18–23 October) and Chinhae (23–25 October), and then participated in the evolution (25–27 October). The ship set out for Hong Kong and on the way shifted from the administrative control of DesRon 23 to DesRon 13 on 1 November. Bronstein visited the British colonial enclave (1–6 November), and came about and completed upkeep at Subic Bay (8–11 November). She then plotted a course for home, carrying out upkeep and provisioning and refueling at Guam (18–21 November), and refueling at Kwajalein on 27 November and at Pearl Harbor on 2 December on her eastward journey.
The veteran frigate trained in southern Californian waters, including ReadiEx 83-5 and ReadiEx 83-6, and accomplished upkeep and maintenance in San Diego during the first two thirds of 1983. Bronstein deployed to the western Pacific (4 October 1983–30 April 1984). She refueled at Pearl Harbor on 12 October, trained off Kaui (13–14 October), and refueled and provisioned again at Pearl Harbor (15–17 October) before resuming her cruise. The ship made her traditional stop at Guam at the beginning of the month (1–2 November), accomplished voyage repairs at Subic Bay (8–20 November), took part in two Sea of Siam exercises with Thai ships, and then returned to Subic Bay for additional upkeep (25 November–5 December). She headed northward and visited Chinhae (11–12 December) and took part with the South Koreans in Tae Kwon Do 36 (13–16 December). Following a stop at Pusan (17–19 December), she spent Christmas at Hong Kong (24–27 December), and ended the year at Manila (30–31 December 1983). Bronstein then visited Bacolad in the Philippines and Subic Bay early in 1984, came about and refueled at Apra, and then set out on a voyage across the South Pacific. The ship visited several Australian ports, along with Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and Suva in the Fiji Islands, during her exotic return venture. Bronstein worked with Australian, Canadian, Japanese, and New Zealand ships during RimPac 84 in Hawaiian waters in June. She returned to the administrative control of DesRon 23 on 1 September. In November 1984, she visited San Francisco, and shot naval gunfire support qualifications at San Clemente Island, Calif. The ship’s mission changed dramatically when TASS was removed during the mid-1980s, and she spent the subsequent years reverting to her original antisubmarine role utilizing her sonardome.
The ship shifted from DesRon 13 to DesRon 9 on 1 April 1985. She took part in ReadiEx 85-2 and Behavior Criterion 85-5 (22–28 May and 3–6 June, respectively), and her crewmen then joyfully enjoyed the Portland Rose Festival, where an estimated 3,000 people toured the ship (7–10 June). Following that all too fleeting stop, Bronstein took part with Enterprise, battleship New Jersey (BB-62), and Okinawa and their screens in Kernel Usher 85-4 and 85-5, designed to prepare the participants for battle group operations, off the southern California coast (22–27 June and 23–32 July, respectively). The ships company renewed their friendships with the people of the American and Canadian Pacific Northwest when they took part in the 75th anniversary of the Naval Service of Canada (later Royal Canadian Navy) during a visit to Esquimalt, British Columbia (30 August–8 September). Bronstein participated in combined antisubmarine and sea control exercise MarCot 85-2 in those waters (9–20 September), and rounded out the voyage by putting in to Seattle (21–23 September). The ship concluded her training that year by taking part in ReadiEx 86-1 (8–21 November 1985).
Bronstein began the year by taking part in CompTuEx 86-2 and ReadiEx 86-2 in southern Californian waters (22–31 January and 20 February–7 March 1986, respectively). The DesRon 13 staff embarked on board during an intra-squadron exercise (24–28 March). The ship took a brief break from training and visited San Francisco (12–15 June). Bronstein shifted from DesRon 9 to DesRon 33 on 1 September, and ended the year by accomplished a selective restricted availability, mostly in drydock, at nearby Southwest Marine Shipyard (7 July–10 October 1986), where workers supplemented the usual repairs and maintenance by installing an AN/SLQ-25 Nixie torpedo decoy system. Commercial tanker Exxon Long Beach (439) broke free from her tugs and struck the pier and Bronstein’s bow on 7 November, however, the ships did not sustain serious damage or report casualties.
The warship fought heavy seas while en route to take part in a series of exercises in Hawaiian waters (14 January–18 February 1987). She visited Pearl Harbor (22–27 January, 29 January–6 February, and 9–11 February, respectively), test fired her guns off Kahoolawe Island on 27 January, hunted a U.S. submarine acting as an East Bloc aggressor boat the following day off Barking Sands, and anchored off Maui (6–9 February). Bronstein participated in an antisubmarine exercise off San Clemente Island on 4 March, a Middle East Force exercise (9–11 June), and assisted Reuben James (FFG-57) hunting a U.S. submarine off San Clemente (16–17 June). During the mid-summer (22 June–20 July), the frigate embarked some midshipmen and turned northward for the increasingly familiar Pacific Northwest, practicing electronic warfare, air tracking, and air traffic control drills en route, celebrating Independence Day at Vancouver (1–6 July), and visiting San Francisco on her return voyage (10–14 July). Bronstein repeated the cruise with embarked midshipmen (11 August–2 September), again visiting Vancouver (19–24 August) and San Francisco (27–31 August).
Following these less operational cruises, the ship began supplementing her hunts for submarines by patrolling the eastern Pacific for narcotics smugglers. She embarked a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment and set out for Blue Pennant 6, a patrol off Baja California, Mexico (26 October–2 November). Problems with the ship’s fuel tank obliged her to return to San Diego for repairs, but she then (5–21 November) resumed the patrol, but temporarily breaking her vigilance by a visit to Mazatlán, Mexico (10–13 November). The ship altogether tracked more than 500 vessels, intercepted 36, and dispatched her boarding party to board and inspect seven. The boarders did not arrest anyone but cited multiple mariners for minor infractions, such as expired registrations. Bronstein competed against other frigates, many with reservists embarked, in Varsity Player 88-1 (11–13 December). Poor visibility, gale force winds, and high seas drove the planners to cancel one phase after another, and Bronstein ended the exercise by anchoring in San Diego Bay. She replaced Mount 31, the forward twin 3-inch gun turret, with a new one (17 December 1987–January 1988).
The ship set out for a planned two day cruise (12–14 January 1988) to test the gun installation, but shortly after clearing Ballast Point on Point Loma, her engineers heard “loud banging” emanating from the shaft. The ship returned to port but her crewmen and inspectors failed to determine the cause when they examined “shaft alley” the following morning, but the noise persisted when they rotated the shaft. The frigate stood down the channel again on 20 January, and after making multiple course and speed changes off San Diego, she returned and workers replaced the strut bearing, believing it to be “wiped”. Bronstein began refresher training in port but on her first day out to sea on 1 February, sailors determined that sea weed apparently became entrapped between the rope guard and strut bearing, causing a temporary loss of cooling water. The men believed that the damage would not prevent the ship from completing the training and she gamely persevered (25 January–19 February).
Bronstein followed that training with a series of training exercises and maintenance ashore, including acting as a Soviet ship stalking a carrier battle group during FleetEx 88-2 Kernel Usher, an evolution that gave her bridge and CIC watch teams additional experience in locating and targeting ‘enemy’ ships in an emissions control environment (22–28 April). Following the exercise, the ship headed for her crew’s anticipated visit to Newport, Ore. Upon reaching that port, however, the men discovered to their disappointment that a logger onloading for a voyage to Japan occupied the only deep draft berth, and the berth that the harbor authorities offered did not suffice for the frigate to moor safely because it was too shallow -- 25-feet at high tide -- the 75-foot pier proved two short, and the seven knot current flowing from the Yaquina River and the submerged cables precluded dropping the anchor underfoot. The ship therefore came about, and her crewmen waited an additional two days fighting heavy seas off San Diego before proceeding into port (28 April–2 May). Her men received some consolation when the ship celebrated the annual “Sea Festival” at Vancouver, British Columbia (8–23 July — visiting the port 12–17 July). Following what her historian summarized as “the great liberty” among the hospitable Canadians, the veteran frigate offloaded her ordnance at Naval Magazine Indian Island, Wash., on 19 July, and returned to San Diego on 23 July. She then completed a $1.5 million availability at Southwest Marine Shipyard (8 August–4 November), making a “deadstick move” (without full power and assisted by tugs). Following her yard sea trials, Bronstein set out for a series of sea trials and engineering drills and to support Coast Guard law enforcement efforts on 7 November 1988, but that evening a casualty to the steering motor forced her to return to port. After incurring delays because of the complexity of the repairs to the steering motor (pump), she onloaded ordnance at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif. (15–16 November). The ship finished the year by taking part in MEFEx 89-2 in southern Californian waters (12–16 December 1988).
While Bronstein took part in a readiness exercise, designed to train and evaluate battle groups in preparation for their deployments, in the eastern Pacific (10–21 January 1989), she carried out a small boat transfer with Francis Hammond (FF-1067) on 15 January. Shortly after setting out on 13 February for refresher training, Bronstein suffered a steam leak to the main steam strainer, which prevented the frigate from completing the training and she returned to port. The ship’s historian noted with dismay that the incident began “a long series of repairs” to the strainer.