2010-08-11 / Front Page

Coast Guard’s Tall Ship sails into Savannah

Submitted by Jan Calhoun

U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle in full sail U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle in full sail Cadets aboard the U. S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle called out a cadence Friday morning, July 29, 2010, as they worked as a team on the Tall Ship’s starboard side to slowly pull along the dock.

SWAB John Philip Tabb, son of Dr. Dozier and Nancy Tabb of Buffalo, Wyoming, and formerly of Colquitt, was among the cadets taking part in a week-long introduction to a Coast Guard’s life at sea. The cadets aboard hope to become commissioned officers one day upon completion of their education at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

When SWAB Tabb disembarked from the Eagle, he was met by his Aunt Cindy Mann from Waycross and Uncle Mike and Aunt Jan Calhoun from Colquitt, who braved the temperature of 117 heat in- dex for hours to enjoy a visit with their nephew. A friend, Zack Turner of Albany, also withstood the elements to visit with SWAB Tabb.

SWAB John Phillip Tabb comes into port on one of the most famous Tall Ships afloat. SWAB John Phillip Tabb comes into port on one of the most famous Tall Ships afloat. SWAB Tabb is the grandson of Georgia and Syd Kinne, Stokes Tabb, and W. H. and Doris Phillips. SWAB Tabb and another cadet and friend of Philip Tabb were treated to a meal at the Riverhouse Seafood Restaurant. While the relatives and friends enjoyed seafood, the cadets ordered up two hamburgers with french fries. It was an enjoyable and historical adventure for the aunts and uncles.

The Eagle is a “learning laboratory,” according to Jonathan Jefferson, a leader in residence aboard the vessel. “It’s where we train cadets at the academy on various skills.” Among the top skills targeted is leadership.

With a home port in New London, Conn., the Eagle is the only square-rigged ship in active government service. It was originally commissioned as the Horst Wessel in 1936 for duty as a German sail training ship.

According to the Coast Guard, the 74-year-old Eagle is a 295-foot, threemasted square-rigger with more than 23,500 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging.

Many tourists and family members watched the Eagle glide into her berth. Dozens snapped pictures and waited patiently in the heat to greet those aboard. Family and friends can discuss this historical adventure and share their pictures and experiences.

The Eagle is the only active commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services. She is one of five such training barques in world.

Today’s Eagle, the seventh in a long line of proud cutters to bear the name, was built in 1936 by the Blohm & Voss Shipyard, Hamburg, Germany, as a training vessel for German Navy cadets. It was commissioned Horst Wessel and served as a training ship for the Kriegsmarine throughout World War II.

Following World War II, the Horst Wessel, in the age-old custom of capture and seizure, was taken as a war prize by the United States. Initially, the Soviet Union selected Horst Wessel during the division of Nazi vessels by the victorious Allies. The four available sailing ships had been divided into three lots--two large merchant ships being grouped together. The Soviets drew number 1, Great Britain number 2, and the U.S. number 3. Before the results of the draw were officially announced, the U.S representative, through quiet diplomacy, convinced the Soviets to trade draws.

And so, on May 15, 1946, the German barque was commissioned into U.S. Coast Guard service as the Eagle and sailed from Bremerhaven, Germany to New London, Connecticut. On her voyage to the United States, she followed Columbus’s route across the mid-Atlantic.

One of the major controversies regarding the cutter was generated when the Coast Guard decided to add the “racing stripe” to her otherwise unadorned hull in mid-1976. She was the last cutter so painted, and many in the sailing community decried the new paint job. The sails can provide the equivalent of several thousand through-shaft horsepower. The ship readily takes to the task for which it was designed. Eagle’s hull is built of steel, four-tenths of an inch thick. It has two full length steel decks with a platform deck below and a raised forecastle and quarterdeck. The weather decks are three-inch-thick teak over steel. It is a work of art and craftsmanship.

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