Photo credit: Vancouver Maritime Museum

Photo credit: Vancouver Maritime Museum

3. Our Mission in the Arctic

January 31, 2017

While Oliver Hazard Perry has become a familiar sight on Narragansett Bay and throughout New England over the past two summers. We will be broadening our route down the east coast of the US and setting our sights for the open ocean in Spring 2017. As Oliver Hazard Perry is Rhode Island's official Sailing Educational Vessel and show cases our local marine trades who helped in her construction, the ship is licensed by the U.S Coast Guard to sail much farther afield. She is an ambassador for our state; however, she is also a vessel in which all Americans can take pride: America’s brand new Tall Ship--the largest of its kind to be built here in the last 100 years.

The mission of OHPRI is to provide innovative and empowering education-at-sea programs that promote personal and professional growth. We can’t think of a more innovative voyage than this new Tall Ship’s 2017 journey into the Arctic Circle. This journey is not only a historic event from which the world will gain powerful knowledge, but also an incredibly empowering experience for the individuals, professional crew and trainees, who get to be a direct part of it. Our Earth is rapidly changing, and therefore our curriculum regarding our planet must change. Those who are a part of this voyage will get a first-hand experience very few are given, to be able to inspect and influence this curriculum before it becomes a part of our textbooks. We hope that, as an educational vessel, we can bring an awareness to both our trainees and the public about the importance of learning more about this constantly changing environment.

Oliver Hazard Perry is an ocean-going ship, equipped for long voyages out into the open ocean. With her rigid steel hull, two water makers, black water treatment, massive dry food stores, 6 refrigerators/freezers and a large workshop area, her crew can be completely self-sufficient for weeks.. She is also equipped with the highest standard of navigation and communication systems to ensure the highest degree of safety and assurance for all aboard (e.g. GMDSS Sat-C, AIS, Navnet 3D, satellite compass, satellite phone/internet). But you also need people who know how to use all this gear: a minimum of 11 (usually more) of our 17 professional crew will always hold USCG licenses. In addition, our Medical Officer will be an EMT with wilderness medical training, so a highly skilled and trained bunch.

We are honored to be working with our long-time partners across Narragansett Bay at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography for one of the 4½  months expedition. Our relationship with URI began back in 2010 when they hosted a very well attended symposium to explore the vast educational opportunities the ship presented to the state. The partnership has continued on many levels over the years, and who would have thought back then we would be working so closely on a ground-breaking research expedition of national significance in 2017. Although the National Science Foundation grant received by URI stipulates the students chosen for this leg will come from minority serving institutions (Florida International University; University of Illinois, Chicago; California State University, Channel Islands; Texas State University; Virginia Commonwealth University and City College of New York), there will be at least one URI graduate student and a number of URI scientists aboard.

The construction of our vessel has only been possible through generous contributions from our community, which has always had high confidence in our mission. Although we will now take this ocean going vessel around the globe, we will never forget the port we call home. To continue our loyalty to the state we have specifically funded scholarships for 30 Rhode Island students on our programs since 2014.

One hundred and eighty four trainees will be given the once-in-a-lifetime experience to sail with us during the six legs of the Arctic Voyage; however involvement in this journey spans far beyond the berths on board. People can remain involved in the project through the live daily video broadcasts from the ship that will be shared online and at three science education institutions: the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the Exploratorium (San Francisco), and the Alaska Sea Life Center (ASLC). These broadcasts will go daily via the Inner Space Center from July 29 – August 26, 2017. Sixty of the trainees are being selected through URI, but 124 berths are available for anyone applying through the OHPRI programs. Although we hope to receive applicants from all over the country, we can’t say we aren’t proud of the fact that 50% of applicants so far have come from within our small state. 

Photo credit: Vancouver Maritime Museum

Photo credit: Vancouver Maritime Museum

Photo credit: Vancouver Maritime Museum

Photo credit: Vancouver Maritime Museum

Read more about our voyage to the Arctic

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