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Award-winning filmmaker Gary Keith Griffin reminisced about his adventures sailing the world on US Coast Guard ships, while visiting the Eagle docked at the South Street Seaport in NYC in July 2023

GARY KEITH GRIFFIN is a Director, Director of Photography, Educator and an award-winning Cinematographer whose work includes Educating Peter (Academy Award 1992), Autism is a World (Academy Award nominee 2005), The Education of Shelby Knox (Sundance Cinematographer Award, 2005) and Miss Sharon Jones (Toronto Film Festival 2015). He holds an MFA from FAMU and is a Fulbright Fellow (South Africa, 2010). He is an Artist in Residence at the American University (D.C.), where he teaches cinematography and narrative filmmaking; a faculty member of the Prague Film School; and a faculty advisor at the CET-FAMU study abroad program for film students in Prague.  Instagram:@listopadfilm  FB:@garykeithgriffin


Built at the Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1936, and commissioned as Horst Wessel, EAGLE was one of three sail-training ships operated by the pre-World War II German navy. At the close of the war, the ship was taken as a war reparation by the U.S., re-commissioned as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE and sailed to New London, Connecticut, which has been her permanent homeport ever since.

USCGC EAGLE’s primary mission is training cadets and officer candidates, and makes calls at foreign ports as a floating goodwill ambassador for US diplomatic relations. EAGLE has hosted Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Truman. Learn more about the Eagle 

The USCGC EAGLE serves as a seagoing classroom for Coast Guard Academy cadets and instructors. Aboard the EAGLE, a barque-rigged tall ship, cadets are able to apply navigation, ship-handling and engineering training they have previously learned in the classroom. 

In this modern age of computers and global positioning satellites, it may look old-fashioned, but lessons learned sailing aboard a large square-rigger are invaluable. On the decks and in the rigging of EAGLE, young cadets are tested and challenged, often to the limits of endurance. Everyone depends on the others to know their job and do it. The old saying, “We’re all in the same boat,” comes from a ship like this. Because EAGLE is so labor-intensive, it’s a demanding trainer. It’s an intense, humbling experience that instills teamwork, builds confidence and conquers fear – all traits as welcome on board ship as in a corporate boardroom. Learn more about the Eagle experience

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Onboard the Eagle: L-R: Alice Arnold, documentary media maker and educator, Gary Keith Griffin, Nina Colosi (Streaming Museum)

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