UNDERWAY ABOARD BARQUE EAGLE – The Coast Guard Barque Eagle successfully completed its first week of 11 of the cadet summer training deployment in the Atlantic Ocean, Saturday, May 18, 2013.
Eagle left its homeport in New London, Conn., and sailed more than 600 miles headed to the Caribbean while under sail power and using celestial navigation. Serving as an afloat training platform for more 140 Coast Guard Academy cadets at a time, Eagle’s summer deployment spans 11 weeks, visiting at nine port calls in five countries, with four different groups of cadets training onboard.
"The Eagle crew has challenged these future officers, especially the upper class cadets, to assume the leadership roles of junior officers while sailing the Barque, and they have truly taken ownership of this responsibility, said Capt. Wes Pulver, Commanding Officer of Eagle. “Upperclass cadets are leading the rising sophomores during navigation, engineering, bridge, and deck watches, and are helping them understand how a Coast Guard cutter operates while at sea. The challenges of living aboard and manning a square-rigger on the open ocean are building the teamwork, character, and leadership skills necessary for success as officers in the Coast Guard."
There are currently 24 upper class cadets from the Coast Guard Academy and 120 cadets who just completed their freshman year.
The cadets have faced a myriad of challenges since stepping aboard Eagle working through nearly 12-foot seas to set and handle the 23 sails onboard as thet acquire their sea legs. They have climbed the barque’s 147-ft. tall masts through harsh weather and stood bridge, command in control, and engine room watches in the 24-hour classroom. Cadets are learning and training in fire fighting, celestial navigation and weather forecasting. The ship’s navigator secured all means of electronic navigation, leaving the cadets to ensure they arrive at their next portcall with only a sextant and the stars.
“Eagle has been a good introduction into the Coast Guard and has given us the opportunity to apply many of the things we've learned at the Academy,” said 4th Class cadet Townsend Hirst.
With more than 23,500 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging, Eagle has been a classroom at sea for future Coast Guard officers since 1946, providing in-depth leadership and professional development experience.
A permanent crew of seven officers and 50 enlisted personnel maintain the ship throughout the winter and are now guiding the cadets in an extensive underway and in-port training schedule. Instruction is focused on teaching the skills of navigation, damage control, watchstanding, engineering and deck seamanship.
The Eagle is on schedule to arrive at its first foreign port call of St. Martin, Friday, May 24.
At 295 feet, the Eagle 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.