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SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is the largest civilian Sailing School Vessel in the United States. Launched in 2015, Oliver Hazard Perry is the first ocean-going full-rigged ship to be built in the U.S. in over 100 years.  The ship is named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, native son of Rhode Island and the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.

In 2018, Oliver Hazard Perry was named the official flagship and tall ship ambassador of the state of Rhode Island.

Oliver Hazard Perry can accommodate up to 49 people overnight and up to 75 during the day. She is a US Documented vessel, inspected and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard. As a Sailing School Vessel, she carries no passengers; all aboard her are considered crew and are required to fully participate in the operation of the vessel.

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry meets or exceeds all safety requirements for a vessel of her size and class.





What is Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island?

OHPRI was founded 21 years ago as Tall Ships Rhode Island (TSRI), 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.

The ship that would become Oliver Hazard Perry's steel hull was purchased in September 2008, in Canada, for approximately $325,000 USD. It arrived in Newport in late October after being towed 892 miles from its former home in Amherstburg, Ontario (where a group there had intended to call its completed ship the HMS Detroit) and was berthed at Bowen’s Wharf. Further construction and rigging work was completed in Rhode Island. The ship made its first voyages in summer 2015 to to Portland, ME and New London, CT. Since then, she has made coastwise voyages around New England, as well as ocean voyages to Bermuda and the Caribbean, including Cuba.

Who was Oliver Hazard Perry?

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was a native son of Rhode Island, born in South Kingstown, educated in Newport and buried in Newport Island Cemetery. He is best known as an American naval hero of the War of 1812, victor of the Battle of Lake Erie, where he made history by defeating an entire British squadron and and causing their surrender. Read more about Oliver Hazard Perry here.

Is Oliver Hazard Perry a replica?

The ship was not built to be a replica, although she bears a “family resemblance” to American naval vessels of the early 1800s, similar to those that Commodore Perry would have commanded.  Bart Dunbar, former chairman of OHPRI's board and one of the visionaries behind the project, said the idea to name her after Perry originated only after the organization had located the ship's hull—a replica of HMS Detroit that had been under construction in Amherstburg, Ontario. It was then that Dunbar and the other founders discovered the hull’s “incredibly unique” connection to Rhode Island history: Detroit was one of the vessels Perry captured in his famous victory on Lake Erie in 1813.

“The name was chosen to highlight our determination that the ship would be a Rhode Island maritime symbol,” said Perry Lewis, who envisioned the ship along with Dunbar. “As the state’s most prominent naval hero, Commodore Perry was the ideal figure for us, especially as the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie was going to be in a few years.” This historical connection to Perry—of whom Lewis is a direct descendant—has proved crucial for publicity and fundraising. “When word of OHP spread, we began to attract interest from all sorts of historical groups and associations. Descendants of Commodore Perry, members of groups like the First Families of Rhode Island and numerous other groups began to contact us with interest.”

But while the link to 1812 has been forged “mentally and verbally,” Dunbar says OHPRI’s leaders decided against striving for historical accuracy in the ship’s design. Instead, the organization will be able to cater to the diverse educational needs of universities and schools, and educators will be able to use the ship to teach about a variety of historical eras and themes.

How was the rig constructed?

The ship's rigging was completed in Providence, Rhode Island, at Promet Marine Services. All three lower masts are made of steel; the top two sections are wooden. Our wooden spars were turned and shaped at The Spar Shop at Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in Aberdeen, Washington. 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.

Major mechanical work and additional work on the steel parts of the vessel were done at Senesco Marine in Quonset in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

How can I sail aboard the ship?

We are currently hiring professional crew for the 2020 sailing season. Visit our Employment Page for more information. If you are interested in becoming a sail trainee, please check back to our programs page for more information as programs for 2020 are announced! Or consider becoming a volunteer with us; volunteers who log 40 hours or more of time aboard the ship are eligible to come sailing with us this summer. 

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Our mission is to provide innovative and empowering education-at-sea programs to promote personal and professional growth.