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Coast Guard Cutter Eagle visits St. Pete, offers tours
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sailed into port in St. Petersburg today for a weekend of public tours and Coast Guard training. The Eagle is the largest tall ship and only square-rigger in U.S. government service. Built in 1936 at the twilight of the sail era, the ship features 22,000 square feet of sail and close to five miles of rigging.A permanent, year round crew of six officers and 55 enlisted personnel maintain the ship, which is used for training cadets and officer candidates. The Eagle is docked at the Port of St. Petersburg next to the Coast Guard station at 250 Eighth Ave. S.E., and will host free tours today from 2 to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking will be available in the USF St. Petersburg parking garage and surface lots for $5 or at the Al Lang Stadium parking lot for $4. Tours will not be held on Saturday when a new class of Coast Guard cadets moves onto the ship to begin a six-week training phase. Originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, the ship was taken by the United States as a war prize after World War II. In 1946, a U.S. Coast Guard crew, aided by the German crew still on board, sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to its current home port in New London, Conn., according to the Coast Guard Academy’s website.