PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A massive military sailing ship docked in downtown Pensacola Thursday morning.

The Barque Eagle, the flagship of the U.S. Coast Guard, is docked in downtown Pensacola near Plaza De Luna.

“This by the way is the Eagles’ first ever visit to Pensacola, Florida,” said Dan McCort with the Pensacola Navy League. “So, this is a milestone event for this city and this ship.”

The 295-foot vessel, built before World War II, sailed into Pensacola Bay for the first time Thursday, June 2. Since 1946, every new Coast Guard cadet undergoing officer training has begun his or her career by learning to sail on the Eagle.

“Eagles’ mission is really twofold: to train the future generation of Coast Guard officers, so the cadets have had a taste of that, but it’s also our external affairs mission,” said Capt. Michael Turdo, the ship’s commanding officer. “We’re here to represent the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Academy, and an opportunity for all the crew and trainees to welcome the city of Pensacola on board and tell their story.”

The Eagle and its crew train up to 150 cadets or officer candidates at a time. The Eagle is the only active duty sailing vessel in the U.S. military.

“There’s 139 cadets aboard. They will spend their summer training these cadets as they prepare for the time they become commissioned and become officers in the Coast Guard,” said McCort. “They’ll learn everything from navigation, to seamanship to handling the sails. This ship gives them the opportunity to take a step in the past and really learn how to handle a ship at sea.”

Public tours of the ship are available Thursday until 7 p.m. Tours are available Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“For the first time, for the ship to be here (in Pensacola) is really special,” said Turdo.

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