On Thursday 16 May, the US Coast Guard ship ‘Eagle’ will glide in to dock at the Cruise Terminal in Copenhagen, offering Copenhageners the chance to walk on its decks – completely free of charge.
Its three towering masts can hoist 23 sails with 9.7 km of rigging, and you will be able to see all of this up-close on the free public tours over the next three days (see below), courtesy of the US Embassy.
Under fire from the pirates
With a name like Eagle you might assume that this is the ultimate all-American ship – but there is more to this vessel than meets the eye.
Built in the 1930s, it began life as a German training ship – when most of the fleet were powered by steam, it must have been a little confusing for Allied bombers to come under fire from a boat more at home in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
But then the ‘Horst Wessel’ became ‘Eagle’ when it was taken by the US as reparations for World War Two.
Rather taken with ‘The Danmark’
The US had its reasons for wanting to take the Horst Wessel, having benefited from the use of a similar Danish ship – the Danmark – between 1942 and 1945.
The Danish officers on board provided excellent training to cadets, with 60 percent of them going on to become officers in the US Coast Guard and Navy.
And the Danish connection remains to this day, as the captain of Eagle, Matthew T Mielstrup, has an undeniably Danish-sounding name.