Coast Guard Cutter Eagle Takes a Trip Down the Bay

 The Coast Guard Cutter Barque Eagle, nicknamed "America's Tall Ship," is leaving her temporary home port of Baltimore for an eight-month deployment. But she'll make one last stop before leaving the Bay: a public visit to Norfolk this weekend.

 USCG officer candidates prepare to climb Eagle's mast. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Brahm

USCG officer candidates prepare to climb Eagle's mast. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Brahm

The Eagle is set to arrive in Norfolk Friday, April 6, docking at Nauticus Pier into the weekend. The public will have the chance to come aboard for tours on Friday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Later, the cutter will set off for her summer 2018 deployment, destined for 20 ports including Barbados, Santa Domingo, San Juan, Roatán, Cartagena, and Curacao.

The 295-foot-long vessel is the largest American tall ship and the only square-rigger still active in U.S. government service. Built in 1936, she was commissioned by the German Navy, but the U.S. claimed her as a war reparation after World War II.

Today the Eagle is a training ground for Coast Guard officer candidates. They get on-the-job lessons in navigation, damage control, engineering, and deck seamanship. A permanent crew of eight officers and 50 enlisted members maintain the ship and train up to 150 cadets at a time.

The cutter has 22,300 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging. When her sails needed to be replaced, a Deltaville, Virginia sailmaker not only made them, but sailed 330 nautical miles on board to make sure they were just right. To read Chesapeake Bay Magazine's feature on that epic test sail, click here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano

Megan Viviano