Sunday, April 22, 2012

Those Magnificent Tall Ships

The day was overcast with intermittent showers as we drove across the Mississippi River Bridge to Algiers Point on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. I spontaneously (yes, really) broke into song, in my mind singing a duet with Johnny Horton:

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.*

The reason for the song is that New Orleans will serve as the inaugural city in a three-year national celebration commemorating the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner.

The U.S. Navy’s amphibious warship USS Wasp, along with other large navy vessels, will welcome Class A tall ships from countries around the world to New Orleans. All will join the U.S. Navy and OpSail 2012 for the celebration. The theme, “Our Flag Was Still There,” will mark the festivities in seven ports and across the country.

We had hoped to photograph the arrival of three tall ships for Navy Week from this vantage point, but we guessed wrong on the time of their arrival—choosing to go to lunch rather than waiting for the ships’ arrival during the lunch hour.

While we could not expect the ships to come up the winding Mississippi under full sail, we had hoped to witness a sight that was almost the equal of a full-sail arrival. Seeing cadets standing on the yards (fixed horizontally from the masts) is a magnificent sight—one that we, unfortunately, missed.

But, even docked, the Eagle (USA, left in the first photo above), the KRI Dewaruci (Indonesia, center), and the Guayas (Ecuador, right in photo) were impressive.

The USCGC Eagle is a 295-foot (90 m) barque used as a training cutter for future officers of the United States Coast Guard. She is one of only two active commissioned sailing vessels in American military service, the other being the USS Constitution. She is the seventh U.S. Navy or Coast Guard ship to bear the name in a line dating back to 1792.

I was struck by the amount of rigging (above photos) on my tour of the ship.

To one of the cadets, I observed: "You must have a lot of fun, but you must have a lot of work responsibility."

"But the work is fun," was his response.

Each summer, Eagle conducts cruises with cadets from the United
States Coast Guard Academy and candidates from the Officer Candidate School for periods ranging from a week to two months. These cruises fulfill multiple roles; the primary mission is training the cadets and officer candidates, but the ship also performs a public relations role. Often, the Eagle makes calls at foreign ports as a goodwill ambassador (

The KRI Dewaruci is a Class A tall ship used as a sail training vessel for naval cadets and is the largest tall ship in the Indonesian fleet. The Dewaruci also serves as a goodwill ambassador for the country of Indonesia to the rest of the world.

Construction on the Dewaruci began in 1932, but was suspended for 20 years. Her name and figurehead represent and display the mythological Indonesian god of truth and courage (

The Dewaruci is on a 277-day circum-navigation voyage that takes in four continents, placing Indonesia among the few countries in the world where the Navy still holds fast to the tradition of cruising the ocean on a sailing ship. The barquentine Dewaruci itself has become the only ship of its kind that can still sail the open oceans (Sapto Budiarso Report).

The carving on the ship's deck was extensive and extremely well-executed.

Given the detailed carvings on deck, we wondered how intricate any carving done in the captain's quarters would be.

The BAE GUAYAS from Ecuador is a three-masted barque. Ecuador’s tall ship is a 257-foot training ship for that country’s Navy.

At the time we were there, the Guayas crew were busy working on some of the ropes (left and below).

Others took time out to send us a greeting when they spotted the camera.

The English translation of the wording on the unfurled flag reads: "Creating a New World."

We wondered if Popeye would play some role in the realization of this goal.
* “Battle of New Orleans,” written by Jimmy Driftwood. (Pop Chart # 1 Apr. 27, 1959.)

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