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Tall ship makes storm layover off Brooklyn

America's tall ship, the 295-foot U.S. Coast Guard

America's tall ship, the 295-foot U.S. Coast Guard barque Eagle, seen here sailing past the Statue of Liberty on April 29, 2004, made a storm layover Saturday in Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn. Credit: USCG

The foul weather hitting the East Coast prompted the crew of a storied Coast Guard tall ship to moor in Brooklyn Saturday.

The layover in Gravesend Bay, a half-mile from shore, provided a rare winter glimpse of the Coast Guard barque Eagle.

The nearly 150-foot-tall, three-masted ship is bound for Baltimore and routine repairs. But as that city and other East Coast areas were socked with more than 2 feet of snow, the crew decided it was best to buy time in Brooklyn before heading south.

The ship arrived about midnight Friday from its home port in New London, Conn., said its navigator, Coast Guard Lt. Chris Nolan. It was supposed to head toward Baltimore this morning.

The same storm that buffeted Baltimore largely spared this area. That made the city a good port in the storm. "We wanted to avoid the worst of the weather," Nolan said. "So we stopped in New York."

But weather was cold, with winds at about 30 knots, or 35 mph, out on the water, Nolan said. The crew on deck had to wear insulated coveralls.

The trip to Baltimore will take about four days, at 10 knots, or 11 mph, Nolan said.

The Coast Guard's training ship usually sails these parts in the summer to lead the tall ships parade, which takes place every few years in New York City.

The ship has a permanent crew of 60 on board and is the only U.S. government-owned tall ship. The United States seized it from Nazi Germany after World War II as part of war reparations.

The ship, which spans 295 feet and weighs 1,816 tons, was built in 1936 in Germany and commissioned as the Horst Wessel, one of three sail-training ships operated by the pre-World War II German navy, according to the Coast Guard. In 1946, the U.S. recommissioned the Eagle and with the help of a German crew sailed it to New London, its home port ever since.

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