PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The US Coast Guard cutter barque “Eagle” arrived at Penn’s Landing this morning on the first stop of its 75th-anniversary tour across the Atlantic.
The ship was ushered up the Delaware River at low tide by an entourage that included the Philadelphia fireboat “Independence” and two Moran tug boats.
The tall ship’s anniversary tour includes a visit to its birthplace in the German port city of Hamburg, where the ship, originally the “Horst Wessel,” was built in 1936.
The US recommissioned the vessel in May 1946 after it was claimed as a war reparation from Germany. About 230 US Coast Guard Academy cadets, over the course of two sessions, will undergo training aboard it.
Two of the original crew members of that post-World War II voyage, Horst Boettge and Emil Babish, will attend an evening reception hosted by the Coast Guard Foundation at the Independence Seaport Museum later Friday.
Also aboard are Capt. Eric Jones, the Eagle’s commanding officer, and the ship’s permanent crew of 55. Additionally, 41 officer candidates, members of the USS Constitution, cadets from the Merchant Marines, New York Maritime, and Texas Maritime and guests are aboard the vessel.
The Eagle was built with the heaviest steel to manage ice in the Baltic Sea and engineered to withstand the wind and waves of Cape Horn, off South America. Jones believes the ship has 50 more years of service in her.
“She’s very well-built, and we work like crazy to take care of her,” Jones said. “Just like anyone who owns a boat, they know that it’s a never-ending effort.”
The Eagle will be open for free public tours this weekend from 11 AM to 7 PM at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing.
(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)