ABOARD USCG EAGLE - The Coast Guard Barque Eagle was the lead ship in Friday's Parade of Sail from Va. Beach to the downtown Norfolk/Portsmouth waterfront.

At 295 feet in length, Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the Stars and Stripes and the only active square rigger in U.S. government service.

It was built in 1936 in Hamburg, Germany, and originally commissioned as the Horst Wessel by the German Navy. The Eagle was taken by the United States as a war reparation following World War II.

With more than 23,500 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging, the Eagle has served as a floating classroom to future Coast Guard officers since 1946, offering an at-sea leadership and professional development experience.

A permanent crew of seven officers and 50 enlisted personnel maintain the ship and guide the trainees through an underway and in-port training schedule, dedicated to learning the skills of navigation, damage control, watchstanding, engineering and deck seamanship. Each training cruise is six weeks.

Elizabeth Furman is aboard as a cadet. She spent two years in Chesapeake at Great Bridge High School, graduating in 2011.

'I love it,' she says of being on The Eagle.

She adds her favorite thing about being in the Coast Guard is the people.

'Our number one mission is training young men and women to become seagoing professionals, to learn about our maritime heritage and how much we rely on the ocean and ports for America's strength,' adds Capt. Eric Jones.

Eagle willbe tied up at the East Otter Berth next to Nauticus, as part of their 2012 cruise celebrating Operation Sail 2012 and the bicentennial of the War of 1812. It will open for free tours.

Eagle tours:
- Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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