2012-06-07 / News

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry now official state vessel


The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry undergoing steel work at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown. The tall ship was recently named Rhode Island’s official Sailing Education Vessel by Gov. Lincoln Chafee. 
PHOTO BY RICK WILLIAMS The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry undergoing steel work at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown. The tall ship was recently named Rhode Island’s official Sailing Education Vessel by Gov. Lincoln Chafee. PHOTO BY RICK WILLIAMS On May 10, Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed legislation designating the soon-to-be-commissioned 196-foot SSV Oliver Hazard Perry the state’s official Sailing Education Vessel.

It was a large step for the smallest state in the Union – which calls itself the Ocean State – and possesses a rich maritime history and an economy closely tied to the marine trades. SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is a three-masted, squarerigged tall ship.

“The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will not only be a goodwill ambassador for our state while under sail, but also a platform for experiencebased education that supports and promotes tall ship training, marine trade workforce development and marine conservation and environmental stewardship,” said Chafee.

The nonprofit organization Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island has raised $5 million of the $7.5 million needed to complete the ship, which is currently berthed at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown, where major steel work is underway.

The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s steel hull, over which a three-story rig will eventually tower, was purchased by OHPRI in 2008 from a group in Ontario that had planned to build a dockside attraction. The hull arrived in Newport a few months later after being towed 892 miles from its former home.

Named after the Rhode Island native and American naval war hero who helped defeat the British in the Battle of Lake Erie, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will not sit idly at the dock. Instead, it will offer year-round experiential educational programs while at sea in New England and Canada during the summer, and in the Caribbean in the winter. It will be a documented, sailing school vessel, inspected and certified by the United States Coast Guard.

“The project has inspired generous support from philanthropic foundations, corporations and individuals, and it has garnered allimportant programmatic support from the marine industry, from schools and universities, from Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, and now, officially, from our government,” said Perry Lewis, vice chairman of the organization. “We are delighted that the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry has been designated Rhode Island’s Sailing Education Vessel, and we look forward to partnering with schools across the state to deliver a hands-on interactive maritime learning experience.”

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma and Rep. Peter Martin, with final passage in the House and the Senate in early May.

With an ocean-oriented approach, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s education programming will support and enhance academic achievement in STEAM courses for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, as well as leadership development and career pathway exploration. The tall ship will be built for education and equipped to serve students from middle school through college.

Plans for the ship include classroom and library spaces below decks and a science laboratory space on the main deck. Students will have access to state-of-the-art technology for navigation, communications and ship systems.

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