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In 1877, the first cadets to enroll in the United States Revenue Cutter Service, the predecessor to the U. Coast Guard, undertook their training on board the Revenue Cutter James C. During the 1930s, the Academy did not have a resident sailing vessel for cadet training.
In 1939, the Danish Navy's sail training vessel Danmark was in New York City to take part in the 1939 World's Fair.
The cadets are arranged into watches, and in this capacity they are under the instruction of the officer of the deck, and are required to write up the remarks in the rough log, to observe carefully the making and taking in of all sail, to study the various evolutions of the vessel, transmitting and giving commands when directed, and, after reaching a certain degree of proficiency, they are exercised in charge of the deck, and in working ship in the important operations of tacking and wearing.
The object is to impress them with the duties and responsibilities of deck officers, and the strictest obedience to every detail is enforced.
Numerous weapons were installed throughout the decks, including two 20 mm anti-aircraft guns on the bridge wings, two on the foredeck, and two 20 mm Flakvierling quad mounts on the waist.
From late 1942 through early 1945, she sailed on numerous training deployments in the Baltic sea with cadets fresh out of basic training.
After World War II broke out, the ship was offered to the U. government and transferred to the Coast Guard Academy, where she was commissioned as USCGC Danmark and served as the cadet training ship until 26 September 1945, when she was returned to the Danish government.
(Mircea was also built in 1937 for the Romanian Navy, and work began on a fifth ship called Herbert Norkus, but was stopped with the outbreak of war.) Horst Wessel was commanded by Captain August Thiele, a previous Captain of Gorch Fock, and it was homeported in Kiel.She is the seventh Coast Guard cutter to bear the name in a line dating back to 1792, including the Revenue Cutter Eagle.Each summer, Eagle deploys 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. The primary mission is training the cadets and officer candidates, but the ship also performs a public relations role for the Coast Guard and the United States.In the three years before World War II, she undertook numerous training cruises in the North Atlantic waters, sailing with trainee groups consisting of both future officers and future petty officers.On 21 August 1938, Adolf Hitler visited the ship and sailed for approximately one hour before departing.
The vessel was given anti-aircraft armament and re-commissioned in 1942. Eagle commenced its existence in Nazi Germany as Horst Wessel, a ship of the Gorch Fock class.