Eagle will dock at Mallory Square
She is the only active commissioned sailing vessel, and one of only two commissioned sailing vessels in American military service. On Friday, May 22, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Eagle is set to sail into Key West Harbor at 9 a.m..
“It’s the flagship of the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Lt. Pete Bermont at Coast Guard Sector Key West.
After leaving her home in Baltimore on May 3, and a short stop in Connecticut, the Eagle will arrive with a full contingent of Coast Guard Academy cadet trainees and officer candidates.
It’s something to see. Originally constructed in 1936, the 295-foot vessel features three masts: two at 147 feet tall and a third at 132 feet. It’s reportedly the tallest of the tall ships.
Although Bermont hasn’t trained on the Eagle, he knows a lot of people who have. “So many officers have served and trained on this ship through the years, it’s a real piece of history.”
“Eagle provides an unparalleled at-sea leadership and professional development experience for future officers of the U.S. Coast Guard,” said USCG Captain Raymond “Wes” Pulver, Commanding Officer of the Eagle, in a prepared letter. “Eagle routinely sails with over 230 hands on board.”
Eagle takes to the elements for which she was designed, gliding under full sail at speeds up to 17 knots. To maneuver Eagle, the crew must handle more than 22,000 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging. More than 200 lines control the sails, and every crew member must become intimately familiar with the name, operation, and function of each line. When porting, the two anchors weigh in at almost 8,000 pounds.
“Eagle offers future officers the opportunity to put into practice the navigation, engineering, and other professional theory they have previously learned in the classroom,” said Pulver in the statement. “More importantly, the challenges of living aboard and working a large square-rigger at sea build the teamwork, character, and leadership skills necessary for success in the Service.”
According to the United States Coast Guard Academy, Eagle is the sixth U.S. Coast Guard cutter to bear the name in a line dating back to 1792. The ship was built in 1936 in Hamburg, Germany, and was originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy. The ship was taken as a war prize by the United States after World War II.
Eagle will be open for free public tours during her stay, on Friday from 1 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. She will also be a part of the sunset celebrations at Mallory Square all weekend, leaving on Memorial Day. Her travels will take her to the Bahamas, and then back up the East Coast.
“I think it is phenomenal that the ship will be here over Memorial Day weekend,” Bermont said. “So many people will be in the Keys, and there is such a military presence that it really shows what Key West is about.”