Sunday, March 20, 2011

Penn’s Landing

The tug Jupiter, part of the Philadelphia Maritime Museum.

Tourist boat.

Philadelphia’s official tall ship, the 110-year-old barquentine Gazela Primeiro from Portugal.

The US Coast Guard training barque Eagle, the official US tall ship, which turns 75 this year. (For those who are interested: a barque has three or more masts with square sails on all but the last mast, the mizzenmast; a barquentine has them only on the foremast.) It was the WWII German Navy training ship Horst Wessel, given to the US as reparation in 1946. A sister ship, the Gorch Fock, went to the USSR and was renamed the Товарищ (‘toh-vah-reesh’, Comrade), then went back to Germany and its old name as a museum ship after the Russians ran out of money to maintain it. I think there was a third ship in this class.

Pilot house. The ship has an auxiliary engine (diesel?), hence the smokestack.

This boom used to lower the ship’s small boats as this Coast Guard officer candidate explains (OCs were the crew this time; sometimes Coast Guard Academy cadets are the crew).

As anti-war as I am, I’m not anti-military and like this discipline and attention to detail. If I’d been fit for service, the Navy might have been a good way to go. One of several reasons I like reading this blog’s resident retired officer in the comboxes. The Coast Guard has a good reputation and a good part of its mission as lifeguards/boat-safety inspectors/seagoing cops (as a libertarian I say: can’t local civilians do the same?) and, when needed, it can be transferred to the Navy Department, now part of DoD, to do anti-submarine warfare alongside destroyers (as it was in WWII, even manning some Navy ships). But its original mission was to collect revenue for the feds (the Revenue Cutter Service) and it enforced Prohibition (busting rumrunners’ boats); these days it enforces drug prohibition. For most of its history it was part of the Treasury Department before being moved to the then-new Department of Transportation in the ’60s. Now it’s part of the dreaded Department of Homeland Security. Isn’t homeland security what DoD’s supposed to do? Although I’ve been told some USCG forces were sent to Iraq (an abuse), the smaller of America’s two navies has largely stayed with its fine mission of literally guarding the coast.

Across the Delaware in Camden, the battleship New Jersey.

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