The US Coast Guard has continued to employ a sailing school ship, as have the naval and merchant services of many other nations, to train its future officers. "America's Tallship" is the 295 ft-long barque, Eagle.
After almost 50 years, the Eagle revisited Curaçao during her annual summer cruise for a four-day stay. On board were 216 crew members, including 70 women, according to Commander Eric Jones who welcomed a select group of journalists and visitors after the ship moored at Mathey Wharf. The arrival yielded spectacular images. The mooring did not go entirely smoothly, despite the assistance of the ocean tugs Ocoa and Jaro II, however no damage was done.
According to the original, well-kept copper plate amidships, the Eagle was built as "Schiff (ship) 508" in 1936 in Germany at the Hamburg shipyard Blohm and Voss, where the famous Bismarck also was launched. It's a remarkable fact that Bismarck followed the Eagle with the building number 509.
Although the visit was coordinated by the American consulate, officials of the Curaçao Sail Foundation finally saw twelve years of lobbying for the Eagle's visit to Curaçao crowned. The Eagle, which was in Puerto Rico earlier this summer, came rather unexpectedly to the island because a visit to Caracas was canceled.
Many locals and tourists took advantage of the open house sessions during all four days the ship was in port to take a close look at the beautiful and extremely well maintained details on deck. The cadets in return enjoyed diving, snorkeling and sightseeing on the island.
Els Kroon is a Dutch former teacher who now lives and works as an award-winning free-lance photojournalist on Curaçao.