Warship Wednesday Aug 5, 5015: 225 Years of Semper Paratus

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Aug 5, 5015: 225 Years of Semper Paratus

In honor of the Coast Guard’s 225th Birthday this week, this one is a no-brainer.

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Here we see the oldest vessel in the U.S. Coast Guard and one of the last ships afloat and in active service that dates from World War II (although from the other side), the Gorch Fock-class segelschulschiff training barque USCGC Eagle (WIX-327), America’s only active duty square rigger.

Designed by John Stanley, the Gorch Fock-class school ships, three master barques with 269-foot long steel hulls, 18,000 sq. feet of square-rigged sails fore and main and gaff rigged mizzens, were perhaps the best training ships built in the 20th Century.

Horst Wessel at sea 1938

Horst Wessel at sea 1938

First ordered to replace the lost Segelschulschiff Niobe, capsized in 1932, SSS Gorch Fock was ordered the same year from Blohm and Voss in Hamburg and completed in just 100 days. Then, with a need to greatly expand the German Kriegsmarine soon followed sisters SSS Horst Wessel in 1936, SSS Albert Leo Schlageter in 1937, Mircea for the Romanian Navy in 1937, and SSS Herbert Norkus in 1939.

Horse Wessel

The subject of our story, Horst Wessel was a happy ship, commissioning 17 September 1936, and spent summer cruises in 1937-39 roaming the globe with a crew of German officer cadets and craggy old chiefs and officers that dated back to the Kaiser’s time.

An excellent 37-page translation of her 1937 Cruise Book is online and makes for interesting reading as does as a 50-page photo album.

Crewmen on Horst Wessel performing a totenwacht over a dead comrade

Crewmen on Horst Wessel performing a totenwacht over a dead comrade

Horst Wessel

Horst Wessel

Her German Eagle figurehead

Her German Eagle figurehead

When war came, the training fleet was laid up with Herbert Norkus, never fully completed, sunk at the end of the conflict, Gorch Fock herself scuttled in shallow waters off Rügen in an attempt to avoid her capture by the Soviets, who raised her and used her anyway as the training ship Tovarishch for decades, Schlageter damaged by a mine then confiscated and sold in poor shape to Brazil and Horst Wessel with an interesting story of her own.

Armed with a number 20 mm flak mounts, Horst Wessel had shuttled around the relatively safe waters of the Baltic and came out of the war unscathed.

The Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE laying at a shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, 1946, being rigged and outfitted for her voyage to the United States. Note bombed out buildings in background

The Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE laying at a shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, 1946, being rigged and outfitted for her voyage to the United States. Note bombed out buildings in background

Won by the U.S. in a lottery of captured but still salvageable German ships, she was sailed to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy where she took the place of the 188-foot Danish merchant academy training ship Danmark, who, interned during the war, had trained thousands of USCG and Merchant Marine officers.

Horst Wessel arrived (under control of her volunteer German crew) and was commissioned 15 May 1946, as USCGC Eagle while Danmark was returned to her proper owner’s that September after Eagle was ready for deployment.

Since then she has been used extensively with a core USCG cadre crew of six officers and 55 enlisted personnel and as many as 150 cadets on summer and even yearlong cruises. During the past seven decades it can be said that she has sailed with over 10,000 swabs holystoning her decks and rigging her lines.

Eagle under U.S. Flag 1954. Note that she did not receive her distinctive red racing stripe until 1976-- the last ship in the Coast Guard to do so

Eagle under U.S. Flag 1954. Note that she did not receive her distinctive red racing stripe until 1976– the last ship in the Coast Guard to do so

She has been inspected by just about every sitting President since Truman to include JFK, a former Navy man.

August 15, 1962--President john F. Kennedy addressing Cadets while visiting on board the U.S Coast Guard Academy training bark EAGLE,

August 15, 1962–President john F. Kennedy addressing Cadets while visiting on board the U.S Coast Guard Academy training bark EAGLE,

Eagle gives future officers the opportunity to put into practice the navigation, engineering, damage control and other professional theory they have previously learned in the classroom.

ATLANTIC OCEAN - Photo of events aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle July 6, 2012.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

ATLANTIC OCEAN – Photo of events aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle July 6, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Upper class trainees have a chance to learn leadership and service duties normally handled by junior officers, while underclass trainees fill crew positions of a junior enlisted person, such as helm watches at the huge double wooden wheels used to steer the vessel.

The sails are set aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle Wednesday, July 27, 2011. The Eagle is underway on the 2011 Summer Training Cruise, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the 295-foot barque.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

The sails are set aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle Wednesday, July 27, 2011. The Eagle is underway on the 2011 Summer Training Cruise, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the 295-foot barque. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

Everyone who trains on Eagle experiences a character building experience gained from working a tall ship at sea.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Third Class Cadet Brandon Foy climbs the rigging Tuesday, July 12, 2011, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle.  Foy is one of 137 cadets sailing aboard the 295-foot barque during the 2011 Summer Training Cruise, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the ship. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Third Class Cadet Brandon Foy climbs the rigging Tuesday, July 12, 2011, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. Foy is one of 137 cadets sailing aboard the 295-foot barque during the 2011 Summer Training Cruise, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the ship. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

To maneuver Eagle under sail after her rerigging to a larger set of canvas than the Germans used, the crew must handle more than 22,000 square feet of sail and five miles of rigging.

The sails are set Saturday, June 25, 2011, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle in the Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and the United Kingdom.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

The sails are set Saturday, June 25, 2011, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle in the Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and the United Kingdom. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

Over 200 lines control the sails and yards, and every crewmember, cadet and officer candidate, must become intimately familiar with the name, operation, and function of each line.

The crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle work to take in the sails as the ship heads to Corpus Christi, Texas, July 2, 2010. Crewmen work in the rigging nearly 100 feet above the water. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle work to take in the sails as the ship heads to Corpus Christi, Texas, July 2, 2010. Crewmen work in the rigging nearly 100 feet above the water. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

While she has the nickname of “America’s Tall Ship” and is seen round the world waving the flag, her bread and butter is training cadets from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as well as NOAA Officer Candidates and the occasional Navy, Merchant Marine and foreign allied maritime officers as well.

The crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle work to take in the sails as the ship heads to Corpus Christi, Texas, July 2, 2010. Crewmen work in the rigging nearly 100 feet above the water. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle work to take in the sails as the ship heads to Corpus Christi, Texas, July 2, 2010. Crewmen work in the rigging nearly 100 feet above the water. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

And all those sails don’t raise themselves

These ships have proven durable, with Gorch Fock returning to Germany from Russia in 2003 and resuming her old name as a museum ship, Mircea entering her 77th year of service to the Romanian Navy this year, and Albert Leo Schlageter— sailing under the name Sagres III for Portugal since 1961– all still in active service.

Truth be told, only the sad Herbert Norkus, which never sailed anyway, has been lost from the original five ship class.

Further, since the war ended, another five ships have been built to the same, although updated, design. These include yet another Gorch Fock (built for West Germany in 1958), Gloria (1967, Colombia), Guayas (1976, Ecuador), Simón Bolívar (1979, Venezuela), and Cuauhtémoc (1982, Mexico).

In short, nine tall ships are running around the earth to the same general specs.

And the best traveled of the pack is Eagle, who is all ours and hopefully will see another 75 years under sail.

CARIBBEAN OCEAN - The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle transits the Caribbean Ocean under full sail Monday, June 7, 2010. Crewmembers assigned to the Eagle "America's Tall Ship" set sail from New London, Conn., in April for the annual Summer Training Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

CARIBBEAN OCEAN – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle transits the Caribbean Ocean under full sail Monday, June 7, 2010. Crewmembers assigned to the Eagle “America’s Tall Ship” set sail from New London, Conn., in April for the annual Summer Training Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

ATLANTIC OCEAN - The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails through dense fog, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. The crew of the Eagle take extra safety precautions when sailing through fog, such as sounding the foghorn and standing extra lookouts. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Swanson.

ATLANTIC OCEAN – The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails through dense fog, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. The crew of the Eagle take extra safety precautions when sailing through fog, such as sounding the foghorn and standing extra lookouts. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Swanson.

(June 26, 2005) ONBOARD THE USCGC EAGLE - A view from the bowsprit onboard the Eagle during a cadet summer training patrol.The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE, designated 'America's Tallship' is a three masted, square- rigged sailing vessel. She is normally homeported in New London, Connecticut, and sails each summer for months at a time, visiting ports around the U.S. and abroad. EAGLE has a long history in service as a training vessel. After she was built and commissioned in 1936, she served as training vessel for cadets in the German Navy. In the 1940s, EAGLE began service as a training platform for Coast Guard Academy officer candidates. Today, nearly all future officers have the opportunity to sail onboard the EAGLE, learning skills such as leadership, teamwork, seamanship, and navigation. (Coast Guard photo by Ensign Ryan Beck)

(June 26, 2005) ONBOARD THE USCGC EAGLE – A view from the bowsprit onboard the Eagle during a cadet summer training patrol.The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE, designated ‘America’s Tallship’ is a three masted, square- rigged sailing vessel. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Ryan Beck)

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (May 20)--The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails into Guantanamo Bay to spend the night.  The Eagle is involved in training exercises in the Carribean.  USN photo by FINCH, MICHAEL L  LCDR

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (May 20)–The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails into Guantanamo Bay to spend the night. The Eagle is involved in training exercises in the Carribean. USN photo by FINCH, MICHAEL L LCDR

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails through the ocean as the moon's reflection beams across the sea. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Shinn)

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails through the ocean as the moon’s reflection beams across the sea. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Shinn)

Seaman Katy Turner (right) of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Petty Officer 1st Class Ted Hubbard of West Springfield, Mass., work from one of Coast Guard Cutter Eagle's small boats to inspect and clean the hull prior to entering port Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009. Conducting small boat operations is one of the most dangerous evolutions for the crew because the small boats are lowered manually by crewmember, rather than by a mechanical hoist.

Seaman Katy Turner (right) of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Petty Officer 1st Class Ted Hubbard of West Springfield, Mass., work from one of Coast Guard Cutter Eagle’s small boats to inspect and clean the hull prior to entering port Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009. Conducting small boat operations is one of the most dangerous evolutions for the crew because the small boats are lowered manually by crewmember, rather than by a mechanical hoist.

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is seen on a foggy Sunday morning at the Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Nov. 17, 2013. The Eagle, a 295-foot barque home-ported in New London, Conn., is a training ship used primarily for Coast Guard cadets and officer candidates. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is seen on a foggy Sunday morning at the Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Nov. 17, 2013. The Eagle, a 295-foot barque home-ported in New London, Conn., is a training ship used primarily for Coast Guard cadets and officer candidates. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

ATLANTIC OCEAN - The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails through dense fog, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. The crew of the Eagle take extra safety precautions when sailing through fog, such as sounding the foghorn and standing extra lookouts. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Swanson.

ATLANTIC OCEAN – The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails through dense fog, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. The crew of the Eagle take extra safety precautions when sailing through fog, such as sounding the foghorn and standing extra lookouts. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Swanson.

Although she long ago landed her German eagle for an American one, which carries the Coast Guard seal (while the old one collects dust as a war trophy at the USCGA Museum) and her original wheel carries her Horst Wessel birth name, it also carries her new monicker as well.

Her original German figurehead is on display at the USCGA Museum

Her original German figurehead is on display at the USCGA Museum

The figurehead of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is seen on a foggy Sunday morning at the Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Nov. 17, 2013. The Eagle, a 295-foot barque home-ported in New London, Conn., is a training ship used primarily for Coast Guard cadets and officer candidates. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

The figurehead of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is seen on a foggy Sunday morning at the Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Nov. 17, 2013. The Eagle, a 295-foot barque home-ported in New London, Conn., is a training ship used primarily for Coast Guard cadets and officer candidates. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

(June 23, 2005) - ONBOARD THE USCGC EAGLE -  A U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet takes the helm during a summer training patrol onboard the Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE. The three masted, square-rigged sailing vessel is normally homeported in New London, Connecticut, and sails each summer for months at a time, visiting ports around the U.S. and abroad. EAGLE has a long history in service as a training vessel. After she was built and commissioned in 1936, she served as training vessel for cadets in the German Navy. In the 1940s, EAGLE began service as a training platform for Coast Guard Academy officer candidates. Today, nearly all future officers have the opportunity to sail onboard the EAGLE, learning skills such as leadership, teamwork, seamanship, and navigation. (Coast Guard photo by Ensign Ryan Beck)

(June 23, 2005) – ONBOARD THE USCGC EAGLE – A U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet takes the helm during a summer training patrol onboard the Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE. The three masted, square-rigged sailing vessel is normally homeported in New London, Connecticut, and sails each summer for months at a time, visiting ports around the U.S. and abroad.  (Coast Guard photo by Ensign Ryan Beck)

The helm of the Coast Guard Cutter Barque Eagle. Coast Guard photo by PA1 Donnie Brzuska, PADET Jacksovnille, Fla.

The helm of the Coast Guard Cutter Barque Eagle. Coast Guard photo by PA1 Donnie Brzuska, PADET Jacksovnille, Fla.

In celebration of the Coast Guard’s 225th, he commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle and the U.S. Postal Service will be unveiling a special edition stamp commemorating the Coast Guard’s birthday this week.

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In an oil painting on masonite, renowned aviation artist William S. Phillips depicts two icons of the Coast Guard: the cutter Eagle, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, the standard rescue aircraft of the Coast Guard.

The ceremony will take place Friday appx. 10:30 a.m. August 7 at the Oliver Hazard Perry Pier at Fort Adams State Park, Newport, R.I.

Eagle will be open to the public for tours at approximately 12 p.m. following the commemorative stamp unveiling ceremony.

In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place in the visitor center across from the pier.

In Newport, Eagle will be open for free public tours:

* Friday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
* Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 7 p.m.
* Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cutter Eagle by John Wisinski (ID# 90138)

Cutter Eagle by John Wisinski (ID# 90138)

If you cannot make Newport, the Eagle has her own social media account that is regularly updated and on a long enough timeline, she will be in a port near you.

Specs:

CGCEagleLength – 295 feet, 231 feet at waterline
Beam, greatest – 39.1 feet
Freeboard – 9.1 feet
Draft, fully loaded – 16 feet
Displacement – 1824 tons
Ballast (lead) – 380 tons
Fuel oil – 23,402 gallons
Anchors – 3,500 lbs. port, 4,400 lbs. starboard
Rigging – 6 miles, standing and running
Height of mainmast – 147.3 feet
Height of foremast – 147.3 feet
Height of mizzenmast – 132.0 feet
Fore and main yard – 78.8 feet
Speed under power – 10 knots
Speed under full sail – 17 knots
Sail area – 22,300 square feet
Engine – 1,000 horsepower diesel Caterpillar D399 engine replaced 700hp original diesel
Generators – two-320 kilowatt Caterpillar 3406 generators
Training complement – 6 officers, 54 crew, 20 temporary active duty crew when at sea, 140 cadets average.
Maximum capacity – 239 people

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

4 responses to “Warship Wednesday Aug 5, 5015: 225 Years of Semper Paratus”

  1. Peter Marx says :

    Christopher, the image of the CGC Eagle and the crane in the background at Bremerhaven brought to mind another example of war reparations paid by Germany at the end of WW-II – a 350 ton floating crane.

    The floating crane (the Titan) was designated YD-171 and assigned to the Long Beach, California Naval Shipyard. It served there for 50 years and was known affectionately as “Herman the German”. After 50 years, it was sold and towed to Panama where it’s used on Panama Canal construction projects.

    A google search for ‘Herman the German crane’ will yield many images of the crane and stories about her including lifting the “Spruce Goose”.

    http://portoflongbeach.blogspot.com/2011/04/herman-german.html

    Peter

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