BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s known as America’s Tall Ship, but the cutter Eagle is much more than that. It’s where future officers in the Coast Guard learn the ropes, and right now, it is anchored at the Inner Harbor.

Mary Bubala takes us on board.

The cutter Eagle is certainly one of the most unique classrooms in America and it just wrapped up a summer of intense training.

They were raising sails by hauling lines hand over hand. It was one more way the Eagle seemed to be pulling everyone aboard into a bygone century when tall ships ruled the high seas. But the Eagle–nearly a football field long–is really a classroom at full sail. Its three masts rise 15 stories high. The full-time crew of 57 teaches Coast Guard trainees the fundamentals of seamanship.

One example: navigation without GPS. They charted a course the old-fashioned way.

Wes Pulver, a 26-year-old Coast Guard veteran, is captain of the Eagle. On this tall ship, he is headmaster and commander.

“It’s an opportunity to really take you back to the basics of how people navigated for hundreds of years before we had satellites in the sky,” Pulver said.

The Eagle was built as a training ship in 1936 for sailors in Hitler’s Germany. After World War II ended, the U.S. seized it as a war reparation and ever since, generations of Coast Guard trainees have literally learned the ropes.

Matthew Marler is halfway through officer candidate school.

“It was definitely an eye-opening experience and one we’ll always take with us,” Marler said. “I’ve never been so tired in my life.”

The teaching on board the Eagle is 24/7 in continuous four-hour shifts.

The Eagle averages four to five months a year at sea. It’s about to head into a couple of months of maintenance.

The trainees aboard will finish their officer candidate school and graduate in December.


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