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New London — Within the Coast Guard, it is the crew of the Coast Guard barque Eagle that is first to feel one of the earliest effects of sequestration.
The crew's port call in Savannah, Ga., later this month has been canceled. The barque planned to dock downtown March 15-18 with a Navy ship as part of Savannah Navy Week. The crew was going to host tours and a reception and participate in St. Patrick's Day festivities.
The Navy canceled many community relations events, including Savannah Navy Week, after the automatic spending cuts under sequestration were triggered. On Thursday, the Coast Guard announced that the Eagle would not go to Savannah either.
Instead, the barque will stop briefly at the Coast Guard base in Charleston, S.C., to pick up supplies and personnel before continuing on the 17-day spring deployment to train officer candidates from both the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Coast Guard has canceled the Coast Guard Band's tour of the South, March 6-15, because of budget reductions.
Capt. Raymond "Wes" Pulver, Eagle's commanding officer, said the crew was excited about Savannah.
"Savannah worked well with the Navy week, but we're pleased to go to Charleston as well," he said. "It's a different focus. It's not a large public relations event, but the primary reason for stopping was logistics, and we'll be able to accomplish that in Charleston."
The Eagle leaves for the training cruise Friday. The schedule change, Pulver said, will not affect the mission to teach the Coast Guard's future officers.
"We understand budget reductions are required and we remain committed to our highest priorities in providing academic and training excellence to the future leaders of our service," he said.
In Charleston, students from the Coast Guard boatswain's mate A-school in Yorktown, Va., will go aboard Eagle so that enlisted students and officer candidates can train together for the first time. The officer candidates will be expected to use what they've learned during the trip to Charleston to help guide the A-school students during the second week of the deployment.