Eagle’s unforgettable visit to the Big Apple

Eagle inbound Brooklyn

NEW YORK – The New York Fire Department vessel, Firefighter, honors the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle as it lies anchored at the Statue of Liberty, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. The Eagle arrived in New York, Thursday, Aug. 4, for the Coast Guard’s 221st birthday. It is the cutter’s last port call for the summer training cruise, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the 295-foot barque. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Erik Swanson

Napolitano helping the crew

NEW YORK - Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Burkell shows Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano how to set the anchor Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle in New York. Napolitano visited the crew of the Eagle in celebration of the Coast Guard's 221st birthday and the 75th anniversary of the Eagle. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

As Coast Guard Cutter Eagle transits north to New London, Conn., to complete its 75th anniversary voyage, the command and crew can reflect on a very busy, exciting, and successful visit to New York City.

On Aug. 5, 2011, a parade of partner agencies surrounded the 295-foot barque, fire hoses blasting in celebration, as Eagle transited New York Harbor with friends, family, and one very special guest: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Napolitano’s overnight visit to the ship began Aug. 4, Coast Guard Day, and ended with a pier-side naturalization ceremony for 10 U.S. military members. While aboard, Napolitano met with cadets, participated in mission and safety briefings, and even worked hard as a member of the crew.

During the inbound transit to Brooklyn, other Eagle guests roamed the decks, excited to learn more about the Coast Guard’s missions.

“It’s great to see the Coast Guard in action,” said Mike D’Antoni, head coach of the New York Knicks, as he and his family stood near the ship’s bow during the ride-in. “I really admire the teamwork and dedication of the crews who make this happen.”

Coach D'Antoni watches HH-65

NEW YORK - Mike D'Antoni, head coach of the New York Knicks, watches as an HH-65 Dolphin from Air Station Atlantic City conducts an overflight patrol of Eagle's inbound transit through New York Harbor, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. D'Antoni visited the crew of the Eagle in celebration of the Coast Guard's 221st birthday and the 75th anniversary of the Eagle. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lieutenant Joe Klinker

D’Antoni’s sentiments were shared by other passengers, including former crewmember Tito Holtkamp.

Holtkamp, who served aboard Eagle as a sailor in the Nazi navy, shared his insights with members of the media along for the ride. “For ten years it served in the German navy to train officers to make war, and the rest of the years, 65 years, it’s been a service of the United States,” said Holtkamp. “It’s trained people to save lives.”

Once moored in Brooklyn, Eagle hosted the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a naturalization ceremony led by Napolitano. Servicemen and women represented all five branches of the military and came from Burma, the People’s Republic of China, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, and Russia.

During her address at the ceremony, Napolitano expressed her gratitude for the duties U.S. military members perform.

“We are thankful for the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and their sacrifices to ensure the safety and security of our nation,” said Napolitano.

As Napolitano spoke, members of the duty crew were working silently, almost invisibly, to make sure Eagle was ready for the final leg of its 75th anniversary voyage.