Coast Guard launches new sail training vessel

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morris_0603NEW LONDON, Conn. — In comfortable spring conditions under a clear blue sky, the first Morris Yachts-built Leadership 44 was christened and launched Thursday at the Coast Guard Academy.

Shearwater is the first of eight L44s that Trenton, Maine-based Morris Yachts is building to replace the four 46-year-old Luders 44 yawls in the academy’s Coastal Sail Training Program. David Pedrick designed the L44.

“The L44 is the centerpiece of our leadership development,” said Adm. J. Scott Burhoe, superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy. “Someday soon, cadets will be sailing these boats themselves.”

Cadets participate in 12-day leadership programs aboard the 44-foot boats, sailing the open waters of coastal New England. They rotate through watch captain, navigator, cook, helmsman and deckhand positions as they develop skills in sailing, navigation and seamanship, and small-boat operations. As many as eight cadets and a safety officer participate in the training missions and offshore passages.

“With these new boats, 100 percent of cadets will be able to participate in the coastal sail training program,” said Robert Hallock, chairman of the L44 procurement committee. About 40 percent of cadets previously could participate, he said.

Hull No. 1 was sponsored by the Class of 1953, and several members were on hand for the ceremony. Shearwater was christened by Burhoe’s wife.

Hull Nos. 2 and 3 are under construction, and $348,000 remains to be raised for hull No. 8, said Anne Brengle, president of the Coast Guard Foundation, an L44 campaign partner with the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association and the Coast Guard Academy Parents Association. The fund-raising effort took 30 months.

“The wonderful partnership between the Coast Guard Foundation, the Alumni Association and the Parents Association worked hard as a team on this project,” Brengle said.

The campaign is raising $6.5 million to build the eight boats.

Michael LaBella

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