Tall ship home again after dockside refit

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The Coast Guard cutter Eagle returned to her home mooring Thursday at Fort Trumbull in New London, Conn., after a three-month dockside maintenance project was completed at the Naval Submarine Base across the Thames River in Groton.

Eagle arrived Sept. 26 for the $3.4 million dollar project that included a complete renewal of the 132-foot mizzen mast, an overhaul of the main steering station, significant structural refurbishments and major berthing area modifications. 

Now back at Fort Trumbull, the Eagle crew will finish the ship’s required annual maintenance period and begin preparing for the spring and summer training deployments. 

As part of the preparations, Eagle will undergo the bi-annual Command Assessment of Readiness and Training and Tailored Ships Training Availability inspections to ensure the ship is safe and the crew is properly trained for all operations.

After being away from homeport for more than 265 days during fiscal year 2012, Eagle was able to remain in Southeastern Connecticut and complete all required maintenance. 

“Without the much-appreciated assistance from our friends at the Groton SUBASE, Eagle would have needed to return to the Coast Guard Yard facility in Baltimore this winter in order to complete this necessary maintenance,” said Capt. Raymond Pulver, Eagle’s commanding officer.

At 295 feet, the Eagle, known as “America’s Tall Ship,” is the largest tall ship flying the stars and stripes and the only active square-rigger in U.S. government service. 

Constructed in 1936 by the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and originally commissioned as the Horst Wessel by the German Navy, the Eagle was taken by the United States as a war reparation following World War II.

With more than 23,500 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging, the Eagle has served as a floating classroom to future Coast Guard officers since 1946, offering an at-sea leadership and professional development experience. 

A permanent crew of six officers and 50 enlisted personnel maintain the ship and guide the trainees through an underway and in-port training schedule, dedicated to learning the skills of navigation, damage control, watchstanding, engineering and deck seamanship.

Once completed with the maintenance availability, Eagle will embark officer candidates in March and sail to Savannah, Ga. During the summer of 2013, Eagle will embark cadets and sail from the Caribbean to Canada, including port calls in Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Aruba; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Bermuda; St. Pierre, France; Halifax, Canada; and Boston.

To follow the Eagle’s summer cruise, visit the ship’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/coastguardcuttereagle.