The USCGC Eagle is in Port Canaveral
This week, ship enthusiasts and military buffs in and around Port Canaveral are getting a treat. For the first time since 2004, “America’s Tall Ship” arrived in Port Canaveral for a five-day stop. The USCGC Eagle docked in Cruise Terminal 3 on May 31st to the delight of Port Canaveral and Brevard residents. From May 31st through June 3rd, the barque will have free, self-guided tours available to the public. On their second day, we grabbed some pictures and talked to a few of the crew (before the rain hit!). This is definitely an exciting, beautiful, and impressive sight to see, and I hope everyone who can will take the opportunity to visit the Eagle.
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The USCGC Eagle
Moving through the ship, you’ll see several informational signs set up to tell you more about the ship. The crew posted on deck will also be happy to tell you what they know about it, too. At 295 feet long with three masts, this barque is the biggest sailing ship sailing under the Stars and Stripes. Those aboard the barque manage over 22,000 square feet of sails and 5 miles of rigging. With a steel hull and deck, she is as sturdy as she is sleek. It is also the only American square rigger and the only active commissioned sailing ship. So, yes, this is something you won’t see just anywhere!
The Eagle is used by the United States Coast Guard Academy to train cadets and future officers. While they sail on this more traditional vessel, Coast Guard cadets learn some of their most vital skills. Topics learned from the standing, enlisted crew and officers on-board include navigation, seamanship, ship repair, and other necessary skills for life at sea. One female cadet spoke about navigating by charts, celestial navigation at night, and sextant use only.
The Eagle’s Beginning
While the Eagle is a training ship for the Coast Guard today, it began as a training ship for Germany’s sailors during World War II. After it was built by the Blohm & Voss Shipyard in 1936, the ship was commissioned Horst Wessel and trained German cadets until 1945. Following the end of WWII, the United States took the Horst Wessel as war reparations and commissioned it as the Eagle in 1946. From that point onward, the Eagle sailed as a training cutter for the US Coast Guard. She sails each summer to train cadets, up to 150 cadets at a time. Recently, the semi-annual Coast Guard Officer Candidate School classes have taken place aboard the barque during the spring and fall.
“America’s Tall Ship”
The US Coast Guard Cutter barque Eagle has another role besides training. It also travels around, visiting national and international ports as a public relations effort. She visits ports as far away as Australia and takes place in international events such as Velas Sudamerica of 2010. The Eagle also returned to Germany several times for races and goodwill visitations. Overall, she is a well-traveled and well-known vessel that has earned the nickname “America’s Tall Ship” for her distinctive masts and sails.
The next couple of days, the USCGC Eagle will still be in port. If you have time, take a couple minutes to walk through this amazing piece of history visiting our port. You won’t be disappointed!
Photography courtesy of Collin Marcoux.