NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC)-- It is a true blast from the past.

Dating back 81 years when it was the German Navy warship "Hoerst Wessel," and taken as a war prize after World War II, the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle has spent the decades since serving as the seafaring classroom for the United States Coast Guard Academy.

In a high tech 21st century world, the lessons learned here are timeless.

Of course, one of the main ideas of the Eagle is to serve as a kind of floating laboratory for the cadets, to give them hands-on experience of what it's like to actually operate a working vessel at sea.

"And it's teaching fundamentals, mostly navigation and seamanship, and we do a lot of engineering and damage control, responding to emergencies," said the Eagle's commanding officer, Captain Matt Meilstrup "But the sailing part is the magnificent part."

For what seems like the umpteenth time in the 41year history of the Harborfest Parade of Sail, the Eagle was back, in all its glory.

As much of a treat as it was for onlookers, it was the pleasure and the honor of the Eagle crew to be here.

"It's sad because my time on Eagle is almost up," said Darden Purrington, a sophomore at the Coast Guard Academy. "But I've been looking forward to us getting to sail into my hometown. Because your home town is pretty special . So getting to sail in and say look, we're in the Coast Guard, we're on a big tall sailing ship and are proud of that, it's a really big deal to me."

The Eagle will be open for free public tours all weekend at the Otter Berth at town Point Park.