The 295-foot, three-masted sailing vessel Eagle will make a port call in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 7 to 10. The public is invited aboard to tour this majestic and historic vessel.
Captain Eric C. Jones, commanding officer of the USCGC Eagle, describes the vessel's upcoming mission: "As America's Tall Ship and the U.S. Coast Guard's primary afloat training platform, Eagle sails each summer in support of the Coast Guard Academy and the Coast Guard Leadership Development Center. Each year, over 600 cadets and officer candidates sail Eagle, getting their initial taste of life on the ocean and developing their professional seagoing skills on the decks of a square rigger."
To sail the Eagle, cadets handle more than 20,000 square feet of sail and five miles of rigging. There are over 200 lines that must be handled during a major ship's maneuver and cadets are tasked with learning the name and function of each and every line.
The present day Eagle is the seventh in a long line of cutters to bear this name, the first dating back to 1792 two years after the Revenue Cutter Service – the forerunner of today's Coast Guard – was founded by Nevis-born U.S. Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton.
Today's Eagle was built in 1936 at the Blohm & Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany as a training vessel for German Naval Cadets. Adolf Hitler christened her the Horst Wessel. Following World War II, the United States took the vessel as a war prize and commissioned her into the U.S. Coast Guard in 1946. Afterward, the Eagle was sailed from Bremerhaven, Germany, to its homeport in New London, Connecticut.
Captain Jones says, "In 2010, Eagle is fortunate to be able to voyage to the Caribbean Sea while taking part in a South American Tall Ships regatta called "Vela Sudamerica" which is celebrating the bicentennial of the independence of many South American nations. No visit to the Caribbean would be complete without a stop in historic San Juan, where we'll be able to open Eagle to the residents of Puerto Rico and, at the same time, allow the Coast Guard Academy classes of 2011 and 2013 to experience the famous hospitality and beautiful surroundings of 'La Isla de Encanto.'"