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New London — The Coast Guard barque Eagle may go to Baltimore for extensive repairs so future officers can keep training on the ship for years to come.
The barque underwent a service-life extension at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Md., more than 30 years ago and it is due for another.
"The Coast Guard is looking at Eagle being the training vessel for cadets and officer candidates for hopefully another 40 years," said Capt. Raymond "Wes" Pulver, Eagle's commanding officer. "A final decision has not been made on the service-life extension project for Eagle but I'm optimistic we're going to do something to keep Eagle in very valuable service."
Cadets from the Coast Guard Academy and officer candidates would still sail aboard the Eagle in the spring and summer. But instead of returning to New London, the barque would spend the fall and winter in Baltimore for up to five years.
The Eagle may return to New London during that time to pick up cadets for the summer cruise or the cadets may travel to Baltimore to leave from there. Pulver said he thinks it would be a good idea for the Eagle to maintain its close ties with New London by visiting during the maintenance period but that would be up to the ship's future commander.
The last time it underwent a major renovation, the ship temporarily changed homeports so the families of the crew could move to Baltimore.
The ship needs to go to the yard because there are several maintenance projects that are too involved to be done at the pier in New London during the off season, such as replacing the main diesel engine and reduction gear, evaluating the hull and overhauling the masts, Pulver said.
The fall of 2014 is the soonest the yard would be free and funding could be available for the work to start. It would take up to five years to complete, he added.
Because the full scope of the work and the schedule has not been set, Pulver said he couldn't say how much the repairs could cost. He expects a decision from the deputy commandant for mission support sometime soon.
"It is a positive discussion," Pulver said, "but we are in the development stage."