USCGC Eagle (WIX-327)
USCGC Eagle is the sixth U.S. Coast Guard cutter to bear the name in a proud line dating back to 1792. The ship was built in 1936 by the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned as Horst Wessel. (Five identical sister ships were also built.)
Originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, the ship was taken by the United States as a war prize after World War II. In 1946, a U.S. Coast Guard crew - aided by the German crew still on board - sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to its new homeport in New London, Connecticut. Eagle returned to Bremerhaven for the first time since World War II in the summer of 2005, to an enthusiastic welcome.
Built during the twilight era of sail, the design and construction of Eagle embody centuries of development in the shipbuilder's art. The hull is steel four-tenths of an inch thick. There are two full-length steel decks with a platform deck below. The raised forecastle and quarterdeck are made of three-inch thick teak over steel, as are the weather decks.
Eagle eagerly takes to the elements for which she was designed. Effortlessly and gracefully, she drives under full sail in the open ocean at speeds up to 17 knots.
When in homeport in New London, Eagle rests alongside a pier on the Thames River near the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The Academy was originally founded in 1876 when nine students boarded the Revenue Cutter Dobbin. A series of cutters followed the Dobbin and, in 1932, a permanent shore facility was established at its present site on land donated by the New London community. Approximately 1,000 men and women attend the Academy, all of whom sail at one time or another on America's only active duty square rigger.