Two of the world’s most majestic three-masted tall ships are in Portland Harbor this weekend on what just happens to be the anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Known as “America’s Tall Ship,” the Coast Guard’s 295-foot barque USS Eagle docked at Portland’s Ocean Terminal on Friday morning. The Eagle will be joined Saturday morning by the 200-foot sail-training ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, which was moored off Fort Allen Park on Thursday night. Both ships will be open for free, public tours throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday.

The event is sponsored by Tall Ships Portland – a nonprofit that promotes sailing experiences for high school-age teens – in conjunction with the Coast Guard, which coincidentally will be celebrating its 227th anniversary on National Coast Guard Day. The Coast Guard was founded by an act of Congress on Aug. 4, 1790.

“We are thrilled to bring these two storied vessels together for Tall Ships Weekend,” Alex Agnew, President of Tall Ships Portland, said in a statement. “We hope that the people of Portland and everyone in the area enjoy all that we have planned.”

“Portland has a strong maritime heritage, and I hope the entire community takes advantage of the opportunity to visit the ship and meet the cadets and crew,” said Capt. Michael Baroody, commander of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England.

The Eagle, based in New London, Connecticut, is the Coast Guard Academy’s training ship. It travels the world with cadets in the summer months, serving as a goodwill ambassador for the United States.

Baroody said cadets sail on the Eagle for one to eight weeks, along with instructors. The ship is commanded by Capt. Matthew Meilstrup.

“Maine has one of the oldest seafaring traditions in the country. We have depended on the Coast Guard for hundreds of years to protect our coast and the men and women who go to sea, so we are especially proud to welcome the Eagle back to Portland on Coast Guard Day,” Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said in a statement.

The Eagle is docked at Ocean Terminal on Portland’s waterfront, but will not be open to public tours on Friday. It will be open for tours on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Eagle was built in 1936 by a German shipyard. It was originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, but served as a reparation for the United States after World War II. It can operate on the ocean under full sail at speeds up to 17.5 knots.

Ritch said the Oliver Hazard Perry arrived in Portland Thursday and is currently anchored off the East End. That ship will be available for tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Ocean Terminal is located on the eastern side of the Maine State Pier near the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal.

The Oliver Hazard Perry was launched in 2013 – the first ocean-going full-rigged ship to be built in the United States in 110 years. It is named for the young Rhode Island hero of the Battle of Lake Erie. The steel-hulled vessel is 200 feet long, has a rig height of 130 feet and homeports in Newport, R.I.

The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is the largest civilian sailing school vessel in the United States. It can accommodate 32 people overnight in addition to 17 crew members.

It is owned and operated by Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, a nonprofit that provides education at sea programs aimed at promoting personal and professional growth.

“If you see the sails of SSV Oliver Hazard Perry appear over the horizon, you might easily believe she was a vessel from over two hundred years ago,” the nonprofit says on its website.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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