What is Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island?

OHPRI was founded 21 years ago as Tall Ships Rhode Island (TSRI). It was then and still is a 501(c)(3) non-profit education foundation. Its original mission was advancing sail training and sea education through Tall Ships gatherings in Rhode Island. By 2007, after four successful events, TSRI knew it was ready to create a more tangible program of its own to directly serve the mission of sail training and adventure education. In 2007 TSRI renamed itself as Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI) and the partially built hull for the ship was purchased. That hull has now become the Sailing School Vessel Oliver Hazard Perry.

What is the mission of Oliver Hazard Perry?

Our mission is to provide innovative and empowering education-at-sea programs that promote personal and professional growth.

Why is the ship named Oliver Hazard Perry?

Oliver Hazard Perry was a native son of Rhode Island. He was born in South Kingstown, educated in Newport and is buried in Newport Island Cemetery. A commemorative statue stands in Washington Square in Newport. He was a U.S. Captain and Naval Hero in War of 1812 and a Commander of the American Naval fleet that met the British forces in the Battle of Lake Erie. His most famous victory was over the British near Put-In-Bay where he declared “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

Where is the Oliver Hazard Perry now?

Please click here to Track the Ship through AIS

How long did it take to build the ship?

It took 8 years for OHPRI to complete the ship:

2008: Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI), formerly Tall Ships Rhode Island, purchased the steel hull from Canadian group in Amherstburg, Ontario. Our design called for enlarging the Canadian hull with an additional deck, replacing the bow and stern and enhancing the rig.  
2010: Steel work was performed on the ship at Promet Marine in Providence
2011: Ship moved to Senesco Marine in Quonset, North Kingstown for additional steel work. 
2012: Included loading of 6,000 bricks (weighing in at 331,650 pounds) of lead ballast  
2013: Extensive work was completed on her interior, including plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation, machinery installation and the supporting welding. On the exterior, the cap rails were added, the anchor hawse pipes and spurling pipeswere built, the bow sprit extended, a deck doubler for the anchor windlass was built, and various ventilation pipes were installed on deck.  
2014: Spars were shipped from Washington State where they were made to a workshop in Portsmouth, R.I., where a crew of riggers is working to complete the standing rigging.  Meanwhile Hood Sailmakers in Middletown, R.I. are finishing Perry’s sails, which the rigging team will bend on, to complete the ship’s rig. Summer programs began aboard a chartered vessel and around 250 students sailed with us.
2015: A hardy team of riggers and sub-contractors continued to work on the ship all winter, despite some brutal blizzards. All three masts have been stepped and her standing and running rigging has been attached and tuned. Considerable work has occurred below and the interior spaces are almost complete. Work continues on the Great Cabin and Engine Room, as well as wiring and electrical work. Fuel has been delivered from Newport Bio-diesel, one of our Marine Trade Partners, and the engines have now run. Summer programs continued on our chartered vessels with school partners and summer camp voyages embarking over 100 students. In August 2015 SSV Oliver Hazard Perry sailed for the first time, her maiden voyage was to Portland, ME for the Tall Ship festival. She also visited 4 other ports throughout New England and over 16,000 people came aboard during dockside events. 
2016: The ship was downrigged for the winter and spars stored at our neighbors; the Newport Opera House. The final contractors finished up and the crew continued to work on the final steps to commission the ship. in July 2016 the ship was ready for the final part of her USCG inspection process, and after the underway drills were performed she obtained her Certificate of Inspection and boarded her first ever trainees on July 31, 2016. 

How was the rig constructed?

One of the main tasks remaining is the construction and raising of the rig. This is the first time in over 100 years that a full-rigged ocean going ship has been built in the US - so it really is history in the making!

The wooden spars were turned and shaped at The Spar Shop at Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in Aberdeen, Washington; and the rigging in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The Spar Shop has the largest spar lathe in North America, if not the world and have built all 19 of the spars (Video here.)

According to Alan Richrod (from the Spar Shop), the jib boom required the largest piece of wood in terms of board feet (53 feet long and 16 ½ inches in diameter before shaping), and the largest of the yards made was the main course yard (lowest on the main mast); it was 12,000 pounds (weight before water evaporation) and was cut from a 65 foot log that only weeks ago was a tree standing in a forest.  

“In all, the spars we are making for the ship weigh more than 35 and 1/2 tons and total 25,182 board feet—that’s enough to build a house of over 3700 square feet!” said Richrod.

Is this ship a replica?

No. It's not a replica, it is built of steel and is not intended as a replica of any particular vessel, but it will bear a ‘family resemblance' to American naval vessels of the early 1800s. 

Why is she made of steel and not wood?

Wood is a wonderful material for the fabrication of small craft, but after seeing the wear and tear of wooden tall ships for several decades, we're confident that both safety and maintenance challenges are better met with a steel hull. Upper spars, pinrails, caprails on bulwarks, trim around deckhouses and more are executed in wood. Fire safety and other regulatory issues govern the use of wood throughout the ship's interior.

Who will be able to sail aboard the ship?

 Aside from crew and educators, the ship will embark up to 32 ‘trainees'---education at sea participants---sometimes referred to as ‘voyage crew.' While the majority of the ship's programs will be geared to youth---mostly middle, high school and college---there will be some general admission programs for adults and families. 

Can I be a passenger aboard the ship?

There are many opportunities to sail aboard SSV Oliver Hazard Perry but no passengers will ever be carried aboard the ship. Because she will be U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified under the Sailing School Vessel Regulations, all who sail aboard her will do so as members of the ship's company fully participating in the ship's operation.

What sort of experience will I need to sign up for voyage aboard the ship?

No particular experience or extraordinary fitness is required to sail aboard the ship. An individual of ordinary abilities ought to be able to participate in the ship's programs. Also, there will be some wheel-chair accessibility to the ship with programs crafted to meets the needs and abilities of wheel-chair occupants.

Will I have to climb the rigging? 

Due to the sail plan, working aloft is a relatively common operation, But climbing the rig is not required by every person aboard. 

A “ground school” lesson will always be held before anyone new to the ship will be allowed to go aloft. You will then be accompanied by a crew member as you climb aloft in an exercise we call “up and overs”.Correct use of a safety harness while working aloft is mandatory.

Willingness and some physical ability will be considered before allowing anyone aloft; decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis with an eye to the safety of both the ship and the individual.

Are there employment opportunities with the ship? 

Please take a look at our Employment Page for more information on opportunities

Of our 17 professional crew, a minimum of 11 hold USCG licenses. The crew will include captain, 3 licensed mates (minimum 500-ton auxiliary sail endorsed license); 1 licensed engineer (minimum designated duty engineer or 3rd assistant engineer), 1 assistant engineer, 6 able seamen (minimum able seaman/special/sail), cook, medical officer (EMT and wilderness medical training), program manager and 2 deckhands.

I want to build a model, how can I obtain plans or drawings of the ship? 

In time, plans and drawings may be made available but we must point out that the ship, its design and image will be trademark protected, so any material provided would be for private non-commercial use.

Are there opportunities for volunteers with the ship? 

Our volunteers are integral to our success, particularly at many of the events we attend. We always love to welcome new and existing volunteers to our team to help during open house events. We attend some great festivals up and down the east coast. To learn more please see our volunteer page here