Luck of the Draw – Coast Guard Cutter Eagle

Los Angeles – She was commissioned Horst Wessel and served as a training ship for German naval cadets throughout World War II.  A translated-diary from a German naval cadet who trained aboard the Horst Wessel in 1937 is available.

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. A lottery of sorts was held between the former Soviet Union who drew number 1, followed by Great Britain, number 2, and then the United States, 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 on May 15, 1946, the Horst Wessel was commissioned into U.S. Coast Guard service as the Eagle. On her maiden voyage to the United States from Germany the Eagle followed Columbus’s route across the mid-Atlantic.

Since being commissioned in 1946 the Eagle has played a role in several historic and noteworthy moments in our country’s history including hosting OpSail in New York as part of the World’s Fair in 1964 and again she hosted OpSail in 1976 during the United States’ Bicentennial celebration. In 1986 she hosted the centennial celebration for the Statue of Liberty. Just this past week the Eagle served as a backdrop for the commissioning ceremony of the Coast Guard’s first National Security Cutter, Bertholf, in Alameda, California.

In addition to its ceremonial duties the Eagle primarily serves as a seagoing classroom for approximately 175 cadets and instructors from the Coast Guard Academy.

Starting on Friday August 15, 2008 the public will have an opportunity to not only see the Eagle lead the Festival of Sail parade into Los Angeles Harbor, but also get up close and personal by taking advantage of rare public tours until Sunday afternoon. “This is a very special opportunity for southern Californians to visit such a historic ship, the last time the Eagle was in port here was about four years ago. “ said Coast Guard Captain James Sommer, Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard base in San Pedro, California.

Free public tours of the football field long sail ship are scheduled to be held Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ship will be moored at the Port of Los Angeles, Berth 87 for the tours.

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