German Vessel Captured By US As 'War Prize' Visits Portsmouth

A US ship with a unique past has arrived at Portsmouth Naval base.

The historic US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle has come alongside in the city as part of continuing preparations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and was joined on the visit by the US Ambassador to the UK.

The USCGC Eagle is more than 80 years old and is used by the US Coastguard to train cadets.

Measuring 295 feet in length, it is a Barque (a three-masted tall ship) with over 20 sails and able to top under-sail speed of 19 knots.

US Coast Guard Eagle in in the UK ahead of the D-Day commemorations 304019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg

The Eagle's involvement in D-Day75 makes part of the ship's history even more interesting.

When the vessel was first launched in 1936 as the 'Horst Wessel', the captain was a German from the Kriegsmarine.

It was decommissioned three years later to allow for modifications to be made, before being recommissioned in 1942.

The Eagle was then used by Germany as a training ship until it was captured by the US in 1945.

The US Coastguard has itself used the ship for training since.

US Coastguard Eagle in the UK 304019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg

"She was built as a German vessel and we took her as a war prize at the end of the war," explained the current Captain of the vessel, Captain Matt Meilsturp.

"She was on the other side [of the war], so it is a little surreal.

"Going across to commemorate the brave men and women that participated in that great amphibious operation that was planned right here, and launched off from this area, that's incredible."

US Coast Guard use the Eagle to train cadets 304019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg

The ship's company were also busy getting everything ready for a special visitor.

The US Ambassador to the UK, Robert Wood Johnson, visited the vessel to ensure everything is prepared to commemorate D-Day:

"[The commemoration] is about the people back in World War Two.

"What drove them and what gave them the courage and perseverance."

US Ambassador to the UK returns from harbour tour 304019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The US Ambassador (centre) visited the vessel after a tour of the harbour.

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