In anticipation of the celebration for the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is scheduled to arrive in Boston from June 30 to July 5.
Currently underway in the Atlantic Ocean, the Eagle’s crew complement of 52 permanent crew, 141 Coast Guard Academy cadets and 20 temporarily assigned crewmembers, Eagle serves as a training ship for cadets and officer candidates throughout the year.
While onboard, cadets will apply the navigation, engineering and other training they receive in classes at the Academy. As upper-class cadets, they perform the leadership functions normally handled by junior officers. As junior cadets, they fill positions normally taken by the enlisted crew of the ship, including helm watch at the brass and wood wheels used to steer the vessel. In addition, cadets will handle more than 20,000 square feet of sail and 5 miles of rigging as a team. More than 200 lines must be coordinated during a major ship maneuver, so cadets must learn the name and function of each line.
The Eagle is a three-masted sailing barque with 21,350 square feet of sail. It is homeported at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. It is the only operational commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services.
“Participating in the bicentennial of the War of 1812 in Boston and celebrating such an important part of our Coast Guard’s history is an honor for the crew of the Eagle,” said LT Kristopher Ensley, the ship’s navigator. “Boston has been the site of many of the key events of our nation’s history and we couldn’t be more proud to be celebrating these milestones in this city.”
While in Boston, Eagle will be moored at the Charlestown Navy Yard next to the USS Constitution and be open for free public tours on the following dates and times:
June 30: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
July 1: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
July 2: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
July 3: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Eagle serves as a seagoing classroom for hundreds of cadets and officer candidates from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. It is on the decks and rigging of the Eagle that the young men and women, who will one day serve as the leaders of the Coast Guard, get their first taste of salt air and life at sea. From this experience they develop a respect for the elements that will be with them throughout their lifetime. They are tested and challenged, often to the limits of their endurance. Working aloft they meet fear and learn to overcome it. The training cadets receive under sail has proven to be an invaluable asset during their subsequent Coast Guard careers.
Built at the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1936, and commissioned as Horst Wessel, it is one of three sail-training ships operated by the pre-World War II German navy. At the close of the war, the ship was taken as a war reparation by the U.S., re-commissioned as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle and sailed to New London, Connecticut, which has been its homeport ever since. Eagle has offered generations of Coast Guard Academy cadets, and more recently officer candidates, an unparalleled leadership experience at sea.
Eagle is the seventh U.S. Coast Guard cutter to bear the name in a proud line dating back to 1793. In 1809, the third Eagle was commissioned, but was captured by the British during the War of 1812. The British brig Dispatch, a much larger and more heavily armed vessel, fought valiantly with the Eagle in 1814. The Eagle’s crew managed to beat back the Dispatch’s launches and they attempted to escape the warship by sailing through the shallows. The warship’s heavy guns soon forced Eagle to beach off Friar’s Head, a 160-foot-high bluff 15 miles northeast of Port Jefferson, New York. The crew and volunteers removed the Eagle’s cannons and hauled them up the bluff and took the Dispatch under fire. Local militia, already entrenched on the bluff, also commenced fire. The Eagle was eventually lost to the British, but not until after the crew had run out of ammunition and held out for more than a day under heavy fire.