The View from the Quarterdeck: September 2019

The signs of autumn’s arrival here in Rhode Island abound, and it is hard to believe that we are nearing the end of the sailing season for the OLIVER HAZARD PERRY.  In the coming weeks we will start to down rig the ship and launch into our ever-expanding list of projects for the offseason.  As I put on my favorite fleece for the first time in months, and breathe in the crisp northerly winds, I cannot help but reflect on how much we have accomplished since January, and how the vision of our future is coming together.

US Naval Sea Cadet Program

At the end of August, we welcomed aboard members of the US Naval Sea Cadets from across the country for a program focusing on leadership.  While incorporating the traditional experiences of our sail training programs aboard the PERRY such as watch standing, climbing aloft and seamanship lessons, the Cadets sailed the ship to Boston Massachusetts, where they then were treated to a tour of the USS CONSTITUTION led by Constitution Museum Public Historian Carl Herzog, and a meeting with the Executive Officer of the ship CDR John Benda.  I could not have been prouder of our crew as we set sail on our departure from Boston Harbor off the Charlestown Navy Yard, where the cadre from the Navy’s Senior Chief Petty Officer School were aloft on CONSTITUTION engaged in their own sail training experience.  Although I am slightly biased, I think that our trainees, getting to sail out of the harbor had the better time!

An important Port in a Storm

Experience has taught us that our pier at Fort Adams is no place to be when stormy weather and strong northerly winds are expected.  With the remnants of Hurricane Dorian moving up the coast after ravaging the northern Bahamas, it became clear that we needed to move to avoid damage to the OHP and/or the pier.  Through the assistance of the Quonset Development Corporation, we were able to arrange dockage at Terminal 4 in Davisville, and spent a lovely weekend getting to know our neighbors from the NOAA Ship OKEANOS EXPLORER, some of whom were former students of mine, and another who had worked aboard OHP last year.  It is moments like these that reinforce the importance of developing a well-connected maritime community here in Rhode Island, and how the OLIVER HAZARD PERRY can play a meaningful role in that process.

 Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival

Having returned from our adventure in Quonset, it was only a few days later that we departed in the early morning hours for New London, Connecticut and the 2019 Maritime Heritage Festival.  Joining the tall ship fleet consisting of ourselves, USCGC EAGLE, COLUMBIA, and MYSTIC WHALER, the event also featured the USS SIOUX CITY, and T/V KINGS POINTER.  Over one thousand people visited the ship over the three day event and we look forward to returning to New London in the future.  

USCG Annual Inspection

While we have had the pleasure of welcoming our colleagues from the United States Coast Guard aboard several times this year in conjunction with the foremast project, it was just this past Monday that we completed our annual Certificate of Inspection renewal.  We are fortunate that here in Sector Southeastern New England we have a team of inspectors that are deeply familiar with the vessel and her history and are so willing to work with us to help improve the way we operate.  For those unfamiliar with the process, the ship and crew are put through a series of drills, some of which included fake casualties or malfunctioning critical equipment, all to ensure that our trainees are getting underway aboard a well found ship, that meets or exceeds relevant safety requirements.  The OHP is cleared to continue operating and we are already working on improving our performance for next year.

Upcoming Events

As we look toward putting a wrap on the sailing season, we will be shifting our focus to the utilization of the ship for dockside programming and events.  On that note, be sure to come visit the ship at the 29th Annual Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival, October 19-20.  In addition to great food and drinks, there will be lots of family friendly activities aboard and a chance to win special OHP prizes!  

Don’t forget that Bowen’s Wharf will be the winter home for the OHP this year.  We are looking forward to hosting a variety of events aboard for families, and for adults throughout the winter months.  If you are interested in using the ship for an event, please call our office 401 841 0080 or email


Fundraising for our Future

This year has seen us revisioning our programming and heavily investing in infrastructure improvements for both the ship and the organization, and it is not a secret that these efforts take significant financial investment.  Tooling purchased for the mast project now allows us to handle much of our spar building and repair needs in-ship.  We have upgraded all of our climbing gear to industry best practice five point harnesses, and we will continue to replace and improve our safety equipment for going aloft in the coming year.  While it was an easy decision to make these investments, it did mean that we were unable to devote those funds to programming aboard the ship.  If you are interested in underwriting some of the purchases we have made to date, or would like to contribute toward necessary upcoming purchases, please visit the Wishlist section of our website or contact us at



The Perry Corp

In the coming months we hope to launch the Perry Corp, a year-round program that seeks to offer engaging introductory experiences for teenagers and adults that showcases opportunities in the Maritime Industry, Marine Trades, and Defense Sector, all while providing them tangible hard and soft skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.  Our goal is to have participants complete a programming cycle and emerge with industry recognized credentials in hand and ready to pursue further study, or to enter the workforce.   Under the umbrella of the Perry Corp we look to expand our relationships with our historic program partners such as Star Kids, Rogers High School, The Met, Warrior Sailing, among others.  

Captain Virginia Wagner Fund

If you have not been aboard the ship recently, I highly encourage you to stop by and admire your reflection in the recently restored ship’s wheel and wheel box, dedicated in memory of Captain Virginia Wagner, a role model to all, but particularly women pursuing careers in the maritime industry.  The Virginia Wagner Fund, which was established in her honor prior to her loss to cancer in 2015, historically funded student voyages aboard the PERRY.  With the restoration of the wheel box and wheel, we are looking to rededicate the fund to providing experiences and resources for women and girls that would like to pursue opportunities in the Maritime Industry through experiences aboard and connected to the OLIVER HAZARD PERRY and OHPRI.

Vice Admiral Thomas Weschler Fund

Named in honor of OHPRI’s founding Chairman, this fund has supported crew training and development.  This year we built a crew of fifteen people with only one having previous square rig experience and taught them how to sail a full rigged ship, now our goal is to make them into the best well rounded professional mariners as possible.  This means assisting with their USCG credentialing process, providing career counseling and most importantly developing and offering the high cost STCW required training that serves as an impediment to entry into the industry for many.  This will allow OHP to not only meet our own challenging manning requirements, but serve as leader to the rest of the tall ship community.

End of Year Celebration

Stay tuned for the announcement of our end of season celebration at the end October and other news about how you can get involved with the PERRY.


With deepest gratitude for your support,



Captain Jonathan Kabak

Chief Executive Officer