Eagle Lands in St. Thomas

United States Coast Guard Cutter Eagle under full sail in the Caribbean Sea. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard Cutter Eagle under full sail in the Caribbean Sea. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard

It’s not every day that an opportunity presents itself for a behind-the-scenes tour of a 295-foot three-masted sailing ship. In fact, most would call it a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially when it’s the Eagle, the largest tall ship flying the American flag and the only active square-rigger in U.S. government service. Yet that’s just what 230 Ivanna Eudora Kean and Charlotte Amalie JROTC cadets and Boys & Girl’s Club Marine Vocational Program (MVP) students did in May when some of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets onboard as part of ‘America’s Tall Ship’s’ 2018 summer patrol led guided tours.

“The Eagle experience offered a chance for our cadets to interact with the Coast Guard cadets and we were pleased with that,” says Col. Alfred Francis (ret), senior instructor at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School JROTC. “Many of our cadets go into the marines, army and air force. However, I encourage them to consider all the services. After all, all of the U.S. Armed Forces offer unique training and skills and gives students an opportunity to see the world beyond the Virgin Islands.”

A phenomenal experience is how Jacqueline Brown, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of St. Thomas sums up her student’s reaction. “On Eagle, our MVP students were able to talk to the cadets about the ropes and knots they saw onboard, the rules they followed and to ask several questions. It was very educational and linked closely with what our students have learned in the MVP program.”

Ivanna Eudora Kean and Charlotte Amalie JROTC Cadets take the helm on a tour of Eagle. Photo: Dean Barnes
Ivanna Eudora Kean and Charlotte Amalie JROTC Cadets take the helm on a tour of Eagle. Photo: Dean Barnes

After completing their behind-the-scenes tour, the JROTC cadets joined senior Coast Guard officers and representatives of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for a ceremony and flag laying at Western Cemetery in honor of Virgin Islands veterans. Meanwhile, the Boys & Girls Club MVP Students joined a group of Eagle cadets in community service activities at the Coral World Ocean Park and Coki Beach. Both events enabled JROTC cadets and MVP students to learn about careers in the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The activity at Coral World was very educational. The students toured the park and ate lunch with the cadets. It gave them yet another opportunity to interact. In fact, two of the students, one male and one female, are interested in joining the Coast Guard,” says the Boys & Girls Club’s Brown.

Eagle was open for free public tours during its May 25 to 28 port call. Over 3500 Virgin Islands residents and visitors toured the ship. 

The crew of 180 U.S. Coast Guard women and men onboard Eagle, which included cadets, officers and enlisted, had an opportunity to visit ashore in St. Thomas – many for the first time. Local businesses such as the Pirate’s Treasure Museum and the SkyRide to Paradise Point hosted the guardsmen and women. 

The non-profit Virgin Islands Centennial Foundation and 340 Group VI, LLC provided community integration planning and logistics support for the ship while it was in Charlotte Amalie. 

Gary Brown
Gary E. Brown is the Editorial Director of All At Sea Caribbean. He is a presenter on Island 92, 91.9 FM, St. Maarten, and the author of the thriller/sailing adventure Caribbean High. For more information, visit: garyebrown.net