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Rhode Island’s Tall Ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry

Building a Floating Classroom, One Plank at a Time

OHP_Rendering_by_Paul_Fuchs.jpgPhoto Credit Artist Paul Fuchs/OHPRI - New color renderings of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry

NEWPORT, R.I. (July 21, 2010)—To steal a line from a Beatles song, Rhode Island’s Education at Sea Tall Ship, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, is coming right along with a little help from her friends: • Earlier this summer, a fund raiser held at Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., attracted 200 supporters--including Governor and Mrs. Carcieri, URI Dean Winnie Brownell and several other educators and state dignitaries--and raised almost $50,000 for the ship, named after Rhode Island’s famous war hero; • In June, the ship’s overseeing non-profit organization Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI) moved into its new offices at the namesake 1750 Buliod-Perry House on Washington Square, where a partnership with the Naval War College Museum and the Newport Historical Society will create a public presence for the historical significance of the ship and the Perry family;

OHP_testing1_credit_L_Maglott.jpgPhoto Credit L. Maglott - Benjamin Shulver of Ocean State Technical Services prepares for non-destructive hull testing of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry (background) currently at Promet Marine in Providence

• More recently, the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust has come aboard with a $100,000 grant, adding to a growing list of supporters that includes trade groups, individuals in the private sector, corporations, and educational institutions; • And last, but not least, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) just accepted the plans for going forward on modifications to the 130-foot steel hull of the ship, which is currently at Promet Marine in Providence. (An animated 3-D drawing of the ship’s hull can be found at

OHP_testing_2_credit_L_Maglott.jpgPhoto Credit L. Maglott - Benjamin Shulver of Ocean State Technical Services checks the quality of welds in the cavernous hull of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry

“We’re constantly making progress,” said OHPRI Chair Bart Dunbar. “We’ve hired our first staff member, Alden Tucker, who will run the OHPRI office, and with the ABS approval, we can proceed with necessary adjustments to the hull before additional work begins.” According to Captain (USCG Ret.) Rick Williams, who oversees the construction of the ship, ABS approval is a critical step along the way to complying with U.S. Coast Guard requirements and the national and international rules for shipping. “The ribs (steel longitudinal supports) have to be strengthened in some places, which we expected, and some of the existing welding needs to undergo non-destructive testing,” said Williams. “This is all good news from the perspective that it supports the original research we carried out before purchasing the hull.” OHPRI bought the hull from an organization in Ontario for $325,000. It had cost almost $3 million to build, but the Canadian group derailed before the ship--intended to be a replica of the British ship HMS Detroit captured by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the War of 1812--could be completed. That’s when Dunbar, Williams, and others, many of whom were responsible for bringing past Tall Ships Festivals to Newport, decided it was time for Rhode Island to have its very own Tall Ship to join the 75 Class A (largest category) ships engaged in experiential education worldwide. “The ship’s tie to the Rhode Island-born Commodore Perry came as an added bonus,” said Dunbar, “and already, with the help of the University of Rhode Island in hosting an Educational Symposium, we have engaged top educators in the state in discussing the endless possibilities for the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s integration into Rhode Island school curriculums.” After its decks and accommodations are completed and some of its systems installed, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will move—under its own power--to Newport’s Louis Jagschitz State Fishing Pier where it will be fitted out with masts, spars, rigging, sails, and electronics. Rhode Island workers will be employed (Dave Bonney of Bay Marine in Barrington is the ship’s naval architect), and in Newport, the ship will be a magnificent work-in-progress that can be followed by the public and enjoyed as an educational experience for all ages. “When it sails in 2012, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will be a 207-foot, three-masted, square-rigged tall ship and sailing school vessel, representing all of Rhode Island,” said Dunbar. ”It will be an experiential learning platform, used by secondary schools and universities, and a magnificent symbol of our maritime heritage.” For more information or to contribute to the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry project, visit or contact Vice-Chair Perry Lewis at OHPRI headquarters, Buliod-Perry House, 29 Touro Street, Washington Square, Newport, R.I., 401-841-0080.

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