Packed with cadets, enlisted officers, family members and guests, the Coast Guard barque Eagle sailed back up the Thames River on Friday morning. The ship returns to New London after 97 days out of port for a summer cruise to celebrate her 75th anniversary.
Captain Eric C. Jones said about 500 cadets trained aboard the tall ship in groups of 140 at a time. He said the crew had to endure some rough weather during the voyage, starting with a gale three days out of New London and continuing with two storms in Europe and one off the coast of Canada.
“The key is to have the crew on their game, knowing their lines and sails and working together as a team,” he said.
The Eagle and made stops in Ireland, Germany, England, Iceland, Nova Scotia, Boston, New Bedford, and New York City before returning. Along the way, the Eagle met with Connecticut visitors in Waterford, Ireland as part of a trip organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut; visited the , where the ship was built in 1936; laid a wreath at the site where the Alexander Hamilton, the , was sunk; sailed north of the Arctic Circle for the first time since the ship was built; and took part in a naturalization ceremony for 10 members of the military in New York. Several family members and guests were ferried out to the ship at the outlet of the Thames River for the final leg to the dock at the .
Rear Admiral Sandy Stosz, superintendent of the , said during a ceremony on deck that the Eagle and her crew contributed toward the international prominence of the United States with the journey. She said the trip also strengthened the leadership of cadets and enlisted crew alike.
“You’re going to remember some of the things you did this summer for the rest of your life,” she said.
“Any time you spend away from the pier is a fantastic time,” said Command Master Chief Lloyd Pierce of the Coast Guard Academy.