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New London skyline from Fort Griswold

Homeport New London

It’s the ideal location for the National Coast Guard Museum, and the National Coast Guard Museum isn’t the only attraction bringing vibrancy to New London. The city’s revitalization initiative includes several projects aimed at boosting economic growth by delighting and educating visitors.

What Is It About New London, CT?

Located on Connecticut’s southern shore, the historic waterfront city of New London is home to charming seaside dining, vibrant public beaches, cultural attractions including the majestic Garde Arts Center, and centuries of history.

There’s a reason why New London was officially designated as Connecticut’s Coast Guard City—and designated by Congress as the home of the new National Coast Guard Museum. The city, along with the entire Southeastern Connecticut area, shares a rich history with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), making it a significant place for Coast Guard community members and visitors.

New London is also home to the Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center, the United States Coast Guard Academy, and the Coast Guard’s Leadership Development Center.

Destination New London

Conveniently situated between New York and Boston, New London offers visitors a taste of New England, all within easy access.

Accessible from all modes of transportation, the Museum also neighbors the region’s transportation hub—with plenty of garage parking and bus service—and New London’s Union Station, which offers daily Amtrak and Shoreline East commuter rail service.

New London – Then and Now

Formally established in the 1600s, New London became a prominent whaling city with its naturally deep harbor drawing mariners to its shores.

Two Revolutionary War-era forts now serving as Connecticut state parks overlook the entrance of the river: Fort Griswold on the eastern Groton bank and Fort Trumbull on the western New London side.

Today, New London continues to serve as an active New England port and hosts several Coast Guard commands, including the USCG Leadership Development Center, the USCG Research and Development Center, and the Coast Guard Academy.

In addition, Coast Guard Station New London, a unit attached to Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound within the First Coast Guard District is located minutes south of the National Coast Guard Museum’s future location.

A Port City Immersed in Maritime History

The city of New London has a long and fascinating heritage:

  • Built in 1761, the New London Harbor Light marks the entrance of the Thames River. It’s the Nation’s fifth-oldest light station and seventh-oldest lighthouse, and it’s both the oldest and the tallest lighthouse in Connecticut.
  • New London has served as a homeport for Coast Guard cutters since 1791, when the city was designated as the homeport of the United States Revenue Cutter Argus. The vessel is one of the original 10 revenue cutters authorized by the First Congress and President George Washington at the recommendation of Alexander Hamilton. With 13 years of active service, the Argus was the longest-serving of the original cutters for the United States Revenue Cutter Service, a predecessor of the USCG.
  • In 1910, Fort Trumbull became the third home of the United States Revenue Cutter Academy. In 1932, the Academy was relocated to its current campus on the west bank of the Thames River and is now known as the United States Coast Guard Academy, home to the Corps of Cadets and the Coast Guard Leadership Development Center.
  • Originally opened in 1909, the USCG assumed responsibility for the operation of Ledge Lighthouse at the mouth of New London Harbor in 1939. Today, it’s home to the Custom House Maritime Museum and a legendary ghost known as “Ernie.”
  • During the Rum Wars of the Prohibition Era, New London served as the location for the largest domestic Forward Operating Base in Coast Guard history. Cutters operated out of the waterfront of the Fort Trumbull Naval Annex, establishing significant legal and operational authorities as a result of this pioneering activity, including legal determinations developed that formed the basis for the future anti-narcotics operations.
  • In response to the military buildup of World War II, the USCG hosted a training center on leased land, now occupied by the University of Connecticut Avery Point Campus. This center included an Enlisted Processing Center as well as the Coast Guard Institute, which offered professional and technical development training materials for the entire USCG workforce through the 1970s.

Coast Guard Cutter Eagle arrives in Portland Maine

Riverfront Promenade

An expanded riverfront promenade and a pedestrian bridge will connect downtown New London with the waterfront.

Transportation Hub

Getting around New London will be effortless, thanks to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), which awarded New London $17 million for planned transit-related infrastructure improvements downtown.

The money is coming through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE), discretionary grant program funded by the federal infrastructure law Congress passed in 2022.

The grant money will go toward funding ADA improvements, the Water Street parking garage expansion, the new transit hub, a restoration project planned at Union Station including bus and train station integration, Cross Sound Ferry’s new high-speed ferry terminal, and seasonal water taxi service.

Plenty of Parking

Garage expansion and improvements will reduce pedestrian safety and congestion concerns in the area. Initial plans for the garage expansion will add an additional 400 to the current 910 and expand the garage over the existing surface lot adjacent to Water Street. A tourism center and transit hub for Southeast Area Transit (SEAT) buses will be accessible at the garage’s ground level.


A portion of the DoT funding is reserved for support of the $20 million state-funded pedestrian bridge that will link the Museum and the parking garage and carry visitors over Water Street and the railroad tracks.

America’s Tall Ship

Another draw for the city is the Coast Guard Barque Eagle, the only active duty sailing vessel in military service, which has secured priority docking at City Pier. A City Counsel license agreement with the United States Coast Guard approved a berth for the Eagle adjacent to the future National Coast Guard Museum. The Eagle, known as “America’s Tall Ship,” will be a prominent feature of New London’s waterfront for at least 20 years.