SALEM — The Coast Guard’s tall ship returns this weekend.

The Barque Eagle, a 295-foot vessel operated by the U.S. Coast Guard as a training cutter for cadets, will pull into Blaney Street Wharf on Friday morning with 50 permanent crew and about 150 cadets.

Visitors will be allowed to tour the ship Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“She’ll be open to the public free of charge,” said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem. “People always love to come visit the Eagle. It’s a really nice ending to Heritage Days week.”

While in Salem, the ship will then go through a “swab phase swapout,” where the 150 cadets onboard will be released and another 150 will move onto the ship for its eventual departure from Salem on Monday morning.

“We have swabs, an incoming class (from the Coast Guard Academy) that is yet to be recognized,” said Salem Harbormaster Bill McHugh. “What they do is come on at different stages, and we are going to do a swapout in Salem.”

The Barque Eagle was originally built for Nazi Germany in 1936 and used to train cadets in the German Navy. The ship came into U.S. hands as part of war reparations at the end of World War II, at which point it left Germany and moved to its new home port in New London, Connecticut.

Since then, the ship has played a valuable role in Coast Guard training efforts.

“These aren’t the average enlisted Coast Guardsmen. These are the ones going to the academy,” McHugh said. “It’s part of their orientation.”

Late Saturday morning, three motorcoaches full of fresh cadets will arrive at Blaney Street Wharf to take their places aboard the ship, McHugh said.

The Barque Eagle was most recently in Salem in 2016, when it arrived at the tail end of July on a rainy day and docked alongside the Salem Harbor Footprint site, which was then under construction. The power plant is now up and running.  

Still, Blaney Street Wharf has the same security measures that existed the last time the Eagle landed in Salem.

“We don’t want any large bags going onboard, so people should keep their large bags, knapsacks (at home), just bring the absolute bare essentials,” McHugh said. “Be prepared to go through a security checkpoint. Anything that’s carried will be looked at and gone through.”

Fox encouraged anyone driving to Derby Street for tours to park at the South Harbor Garage just down the road, as parking near the site will be very limited.

The Eagle isn’t the only tall ship to visit Salem during Heritage Days. The weeklong festivities opened with the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel and the Viking ship Polaris. Both were in Salem for the Maritime Festival last weekend.

“Tall ships make nice bookends,” Fox said, adding that Salem’s tall ship, Friendship, is also home for Heritage Days for the first time since going into drydock for repairs in 2016.

“It’s great having Friendship back, and the tours that the National Park Service is doing daily. ... Even though she isn’t rigged, she’s still a fascinating vessel.


Public tour schedule: Friday, Aug. 9, noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 11, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Please note the following guidelines while touring the Eagle in Salem:

No large bags (i.e. large bags, backpacks, etc). Personal bags and purses are OK. Baggage checks will be conducted prior to boarding the Eagle. Travel light — there are no on-site storage lockers, and large bags will not be allowed onboard.

Limited parking. Visitors should use public transportation, private transportation or off-site parking, due to limited parking spaces at the Salem Ferry Terminal. 

Learn more about the Eagle at