In a crowded West India Dock we welcome another interesting arrival in the shape of an American tall ship with a intriguing past. The USCGC Eagle is a 295-foot (90 m) barque that is used as a training ship for future officers of the United States Coast Guard. Like many other training ships for other navies, the Eagle is used for training cadets and performs a public relations role visiting ports around the world as a goodwill ambassador.
The Eagle has a standing permanent crew of seven officers and 50 enlisted members; on training missions, she takes on a variety of temporary crew and sails with an average complement of 12 officers, 68 crew, and up to 150 trainees.
The Eagle was built for the German Navy under its previous name of the Horst Wessel, it was launched in 1936 at the famous Blohm and Voss yard in Hamburg.
The Horst Wessel was considered a ship of the Gorch Fock class and has many similarities with the famous German Sailing ship. The Horst Wessel was named after a murdered Nazi activist and the launch was attended by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi dignitaries. From its launch it was used to train future officers of the German Navy until 1939 when the ship was decommissioned. In 1942, the ship was recommissioned and had a number of weapons installed throughout the decks. At the end of the war, four German sailing vessels were distributed to various nations as war reparations. The ship only ended up in the United States by the Americans winning a drawing of lots for the ship with the Russian and British navies.
In 1946, the ship was commissioned into the United States Coast Guard as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. Since that date she has been used in training generations of potential officers and is known “America’s Tall Ship.” and is a familiar sight at various Tall Ship races and events. The ship is based at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut and in the ships time in the United States Navy has been visited by a number of Presidents including Kennedy, Nixon and Truman.
It is reported that the Eagle will be open for free public tours from Thursday, June 9 to Monday, June 13.
Regular contributor Eric Pemberton managed to photograph the Eagle leaving the dock on the 14th June.