USS Constitution Sailors to Embark USCGC Eagle for Underway

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Story Number: NNS140321-14Release Date: 3/21/2014 11:05:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Victoria Kinney, USS Constitution Public Affairs

NEW LONDON, Conn. (NNS) -- Ten USS Constitution crew members are scheduled to set sail aboard USCGC Eagle (WIX-327) March 21.

Eagle, a 295-foot barque used as a training cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard, is scheduled to depart from its berth in New London, Conn. for a 15-day underway with a planned port visit in Morehead City, N.C. Constitution Sailors will be training alongside U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets as they learn how to sail and operate the 77-year-old square-rigger in the Atlantic Ocean.

"I'm so excited for this unreal, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Lt. Julien Geiser, Constitution's operations officer and Eagle participant. "I'm certain there are many who wish they were in my position today."

Constitution's crew members will work with cadets to learn many traditional sailing techniques while out to sea, including how to climb rigging, stand a proper lookout watch, haul lines, give line commands, set and furl sails, and navigate the ship by day and celestially at night.

The crew's mission is to take their experiences gained aboard Eagle back to Charlestown to share with fellow crew members of the 216-year-old square-rigger 'Old Ironsides'. The specialized sail training will help prepare the entire Constitution crew for the ship's upcoming 2014 underway season, which will be Constitution's last prior to entering a three-year dry dock availability in 2015 for restoration work.

"It's our hope that the 'Old Ironsides' crew will gain a superior knowledge of tall ships on the Eagle while us junior Sailors will get to learn what it's like to be on an underway," said Seaman Wesley Bishop, a Constitution Sailor participating in the Eagle voyage.

Eagle, originally named SSS Horst Wessel, was built by Blomm and Voss shipyard in Germany in 1936 and used by Nazi Germany as the flagship of their Kriegsmarine sail training fleet. The ship was then transferred to U.S. control after World War II as a war reparation, and was renamed and re-commissioned as an American training ship in 1946. Today, Eagle is the only active-commissioned steel-hulled sailing vessel in U.S. military service.

"USS Constitution may be (America's) oldest commissioned warship, but the Eagle is also one of the world's premier sailing vessels," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Christopher Haws, Constitution's sailing master, who trained aboard Eagle in 2012. "The crew that's going (in 2014) will gain more of an appreciation of what it's actually like to sail a square-rig vessel like Constitution back in her heyday."

Eagle will be docking in Morehead City, N.C. March 27-30 and will be available for free public tours during that time.

USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured destination on Boston's Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship's history and the importance of naval seapower to more than 500,000 visitors each year.

For more news and information on USS Constitution, visit www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution, www.facebook.com/ussconstitutionofficial and www.navy.mil/local/constitution/.

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