A familiar sight has returned to the New London waterfront.
The Coast Guard barque Eagle returned to its port at Fort Trumbull on Thursday after spending about three months under renovation at Sub Base New London in Groton. The ship arrived at the sub base on Sept. 26 for a $3.4 million project including a renewal of its 132-foot mizzen mast, steering station overhaul, structural refurbishments, and modifications to the berthing area. The Eagle is in the midst of its required annual maintenance availability period and the crew will inspect the vessel prior to scheduled sails next year.
The 295-foot ship includes a permanent crew of six officers and 50 enlisted personnel. Since 1946, when the Eagle arrived in New London after it was taken from Germany as a prize of war, the tall ship has trained Coast Guard Academy cadets in areas such as navigation, engineering, damage control, and seamanship.
According to the Coast Guard press release, the Eagle typically takes shelter at the Navy base during hurricanes but this is the first time in more than 20 years that the ship has completed a major maintenance period there. The vessel was away from New London for over 265 days in the 2012 fiscal year. Eagle underwent another renovation in Baltimore earlier this year, returning in February before sailing to New Orleans to take part in OpSail 2012.
“Without the much-appreciated assistance from our friends at the Groton Sub Base, Eagle would have needed to return to the Coast Guard Yard facility in Baltimore this winter in order to complete this necessary maintenance,” said Capt. Raymond Pulver, Eagle’s commanding officer. “The Navy welcomed us with open arms and truly made us feel at home during our time in Groton. Their support was integral to being able to care for our crew and let them spend a little more time at home with their families before getting back underway for the 2013 training deployments. We are genuinely grateful for their cooperation in making life on Eagle a little bit more comfortable for the crew this year.”
Upon completion of the maintenance availability, the Eagle is scheduled to sail to Savannah, Ga. in March. The ship will also make a summer sail from the Caribbean to Canada with stops in Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Aruba; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Bermuda; St. Pierre, France; Halifax, Canada; and Boston.